World-Creation Strategy: Characters?

On October 3, 2007 by Christy

During a discussion about game to film adaptations at a talk I gave recently at the Film and Television Institute in Perth, Graeme Watson commented that part of the success of Tomb Raider could be the prevalence of the character Lara Croft. I think Graeme is dead right, and here is a post by Jessie Jess, a student, that explains some of the attraction:

After reading this definition [Jenkins ‘transmedia storytelling’] I automatically thought about Lara Croft: Tomb Raider as an example of transmedia storytelling. Lara Croft is in multiple media platforms, such as video games, comic books, novels, movies, animation and through modeling (yes people are hired to be Lara at conventions and other events!). There have been 2 Tomb Raider movies to date and the third is being rumored to be in production and Angelina Jolie has placed Lara on the map. The movies as a medium for Lara is incredible, it provides a life like stunning image of how Lara would look in the real world. Video games as a medium in the Tomb Raider series have the record for being the highest selling video game series of all time. Lara as a video game character is even in the Guinness World Book of Records as “The Most Successful Video Game Heroine.” In the novels, they take off from where the video games end. […]

I am really into having access to Lara Croft: Tomb Raider in many different media outlets. I have the opportunity to keep up with Lara in different ways, I can play the game one day, watch the movie, read the book, and even see her in “person”. […]

No matter what form of media Lara is distributed in, the story is easy to follow, she is on a mission, and the viewers are along for the adventure. […]

A second reason for Lara’s success can be compared to Indiana Jones success, “When Indiana Jones went to television, for example, it exploited the medium’s potential for extended storytelling and character development: The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles (1992) showed the character take shape against the backdrop of various historic events and exotic environments (106).” There was potential in expanding the character development of Lara Croft and extended storytelling. She was able to take shape against other forms of mediums. Hence how Indiana Jones is still around and is currently in production of a new film. This is a perfect example showing how Tomb Raider is able to be successful. Characters in the Matrix have no room for development because they are following specific guidelines for all the different forms of mediums that have been predetermined.

Indeed, as I’ve mentioned before, Chris Dahlen has spoken about the specific appeal of characters in his blog:

In fact, the characters in these worlds are the thing that interest me the most: we’re flooded with characters nowadays, and the ones that stick start to engage us on many platforms. Where do they come from? Why are we drawn to them? […] But here’s the catch: the characters and worlds we’re talking about aren’t just getting richer and more interactive; we’re also scaling ourselves down to live in them. [from this post]

Good thoughts Jessie and Chris. 🙂