There is very little reasonable female representation in entertainment media at all, these are industrial endeavors attempting to attract the widest audience possible without inviting commercial or critical controversy, given the storm in a teacup around this game it's not difficult to see why commercial creators would shy away from attempting to depict their vision of a strong female protagonist. When clearly lumbered with the concept that any depiction of a female character is a statement on all women for all time, it must be a revoltingly restrictive prospect for an author in any medium. If creators aren't allowed the freedom to explore the ramifications of gender or race or sexuality on their individual fictional characters without being expected to carry the torch for an entire segment of society then there can be no equality in media representations, there can only be Generic White Males because you can do as you please with that character without fear of controversy or reprisal.
Creators have to be able to try to tell stories with female protagonists without every moment of their attempt being put under some socio-political microscope - more importantly they have to be allowed to fail, perhaps spectacularly, in their attempts otherwise there is no way to learn what sort of approach will be satisfying or interesting or pleasing for their audience. Hell, they have to be allowed to take completely unpopular approaches which don't paint their subject in a positive light, without fear of their efforts being decimated by populist thinking or their careers being harmed by torch & pitchfork mobs. Otherwise we simply have to make do with nondescript white male protagonists fighting nebulous conflicts against generic malevolent forces until the end of time, brought to us by an industry of cowards.
Except in other mediums, there are reasonable female characters. Agreed, they're still not the norm. Neil Gaiman, for example, has expressly said that he prefers writing female characters. "Revoltingly restrictive" seems like an odd word choice, but given Lara Croft's prominence, I imagine this isn't exactly the discussion that Crystal Dynamics wants to have.
At any rate, I'm all for creative freedom on the part of the designers to do what they want, but that doesn't preclude the audience, arguably part of the target demographic from voicing their concerns. Yeah, it's conceivable that this may just give rise to more homogenous nondescript white male protagonists in AAA titles, but consider the business that Tomb Raider did. I think any moneyman worth their salt would probably say it's worth the internet hand wringing if they can pull it off.
Exactly. It sucks that most game developers identify as male while half of the people who play games identify as female--it creates this feeling of hopelessness on both sides as conflicts of storytelling and characterization like this happen.
Fact is, there is no trap here. There's just common decency. Resident Evil 5 is a worse game because Capcom did not remove its needless racist overtones. Batman Arkham City is a worse game because Rocksteady decided that its inmates and its cops would call women bitches and talk about riding them.
There is no moral relativism. Some things are simply wrong to do. Using sexual assault and male violence as an impetus for a female character's growth is wrong--it's icky and it's lazy.
This isn't about censorship. This is about responsible creativity. I'll be happy to teach kids in a media studies course about misogyny in games through Tomb Raider 2012 in 2020, but I'd be happier to teach them about respectful representations of gender, sexuality, and race in games in 2013.
There's nothing stopping the games industry from growing up besides itself. Portal 2 sold. Uncharted sells. You can have feminist representations of people without losing sales or gamer interest. Just make good games with cool stories. Yeah, that's hard to do, but doing the right thing is always hard.