‘Tomb Raider‘ made history in the world of video games. Released on October 25, 1996, for the first PlayStation, it became a global phenomenon. It was entertaining, with original puzzles, and Lara Croft was charismatic in her own right. But… what if we told you that originally, it wasn’t called that, and it wasn’t about everyone’s favorite archaeologist, but they changed it at the last moment because they believed the English-speaking audience wouldn’t be able to pronounce a Latin name?
In fact, the first conceptual art featured, almost literally, Indiana Jones. A muscular and adventurous man whose image they had to change for legal reasons. So they decided to let the player choose the gender, and as the female option, they chose an athletic girl named Laura Cruz, who won over the developers so much that they decided to stick with her.
That’s the nice version of the story, but not the real one: it turns out that when they realized that having two distinct characters meant doing twice the animations and actions, they decided to turn around and stick with just one of them. And with a woman, there was no problem of Lucasfilm accusing them of plagiarism. Two birds with one stone.
However, they soon realized that Americans wouldn’t know how to pronounce the “u” in the name, so to save themselves headaches, they decided to change it to Lara. The last name came from the Eidos executives themselves, who, upon acquiring the game, insisted on having an American last name. And from “Cruz” to “Croft” isn’t that big of a leap after all. If anyone asks, we’ll say her name is Laura Cruz, okay?
By the way, the surname “Croft” wasn’t exactly a stroke of originality: the team took it from the phone book, and that change in her backstory helped shape her personality. It’s not the same to be a Latina archaeologist as it is to be an Englishwoman raiding tombs and taking whatever she finds, after all. The second option is profoundly real.