Essay Plan

Title: How does the design of Tomb Raider create meaning?

Meanings: Trying to make the player believe in the impossible. Giving the player an adventure unlike there ordinary lives filled with mystery, adrenalin and randomness. To challenge the player and gather the sense of reward and accomplishment. How it relates to the player and how the player would act in those situations and how they feel during the game. Creating a virtual world and life of an adventure and discovery for the everyday person to experience. Trying to immerse the player into a world of fear, wonder and discovery through the character of Lara Croft and the environment around her.


  • Tomb Raider is an adventure game made in 1996 with elements of combat, exploration, and puzzle solving in locations around the world using myths and legends to create a story.
  • This game creates meaning through it’s Audio, Puzzles, and morality.
  • While looking at a few books and web articles, I have found links in how there is meaning in Tomb Raider from these sources…
  • And I’ll try to explain how I think the meaning of Tomb is…

Paragraph 1: Genre

  • The genre of Tomb Raider contains elements of combat, exploration, and puzzle solving.
  • Caillois table can actual help to identify many games genre as it divides games in to 4 categories (Agon, Alea, Mimicry, Ilynx) and I found Tomb raider to be a part of every category except for Alea as the game lacks in any sort of chance as loot is not random but placed in certain positions.

Paragraph 2: Audio

  • There is no background music in the game while exploring and area or trying to solve a puzzle. The only sounds heard are sound effects of echo’s and the wind blowing in the background.
  • On actions of an action sequence, music would play creating a dynamic effect and enhancing tension. This links with the core and shell of a game from Franz Mäyrä, 2006 as the audio helps as an aspect of the game to help push the core part of the game of mystery and discovery of the unknow.
  • Even the atheistic visuals of this game are nothing like today but the graphics were new territory and worked well with the audio to give a paranoid feeling a sense of stress and loss as every room looked visual the same.
  • From my own experience, I found this as making me paranoid and on the edge of my seat as anything could happen which worked well with the visuals.

Paragraph 3: Gameplay

  • The game revolves around a puzzle mechanic. This mechanic is effective in leaving the player confused and angered with the toughness of the puzzles. Yet in the end, the player would get a feeling of pride for completing a tough puzzle.
  • This links with the aesthetics of the MDA by Robin Hunicke, Marc LeBlanc, Robert Zubek and what they describe as an aesthetic “Aesthetics describes the desirable emotional responses evoked in the player, when she interacts with the game system”. As shown by the puzzle, the player emotes during puzzles whether it be tough and stressful or the joy of the achievement of solving it.
  • There are times from my own experience of when trying to solve that puzzle and I just couldn’t find that axe, or leaver. I saw the anger, rage and stress on my face as I nearly gave up to look online for help. This shows that the game is trying to affect the player on a mental level.

Paragraph 4: Morality

  • Near to the end of the game, Lara kills her first human being, this scene changes the atmosphere of the game and makes the player think about their morality with what they just did. This is shown well in the remastered version (Tomb Raider Anniversary) as you get to see Lara crofts facial expression in more detail, unlike the original when they didn’t have the tech of today.
  • The effect this is attended on the player, is trying to make them feel and acknowledge of what they just done as when playing a game, you get trapped and lost in the world. The player had become Lara and up to this point, had only killed animals and mythical creatures.
  • This also plays on the morality of one’s self and how they would feel or do in Lara’s position.

Articles/ References

  • Franz Mayra: Core and shell (2006): (2008) An Introduction to Game Studies: Games in Culture London: Sage
  • Roger Caillois: Caillois classification table: Man, Play and Games, (1958) Translated by Meyer Barash Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 2001
  • Robin Hunicke, Marc LeBlanc, Robert Zubek: MDA: A Formal Approach to Game Design and Game Research
  • Andy Robertson: Finding the meaning in video games: Yes, they have value beyond entertainment and self-improvement (2012)



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