Tuesday, 7 November 2017

An Interview with Raymond Croft

I've been a massive Tomb Raider fan from the beginning, when my family picked up Tomb Raider 1 on the Playstation 1 upon it's release. There was something about the series that has already appealed to me; whether that be Lara's archeological roots (I'm a History geek, through and through), or the fact that this was one of the first female video game characters I truly admired.

Whilst Lara has seen several transformations over the years, most notably, 2013's reboot, a strong fanbase has remained at its core. Cosplayers make up a large part of this, and throughout my time of being a part of this community, there's several cosplayers that definitely stand out and make an impression. One of these is Raymond Croft, bringing his male version of Croft to life for the past three years now. I reached out to him, and had a chat about all things Tomb Raider.

You've been a Lara Croft/Tomb Raider cosplayer for some time now. How did you get into the cosplay scene, and how have you found it so far? 
I've always been fond of female characters, and how they broke the stereotype of how a woman should be. I always wanted to be the woman in the video game, never the men. I always wanted to be Lara or dress up as another female character, but I thought it wasn't normal. Not soon after I discovered genderbend cosplay, and decided to cosplay as my favorite character, Lara Croft. I first cosplayed as Lara at San Diego Comic Con 2014 with my best friend Spencer, who also cosplays as Lara Croft. Since then I've been cosplaying as different woman who I grew up watching on tv that inspire me.

For me personally, Lara Croft has been one of my favourite gaming characters, and as a woman, I've found her pretty inspirational. What do you like about Lara, and is there anything about her that inspires you? 
My favorite thing about Lara is how determined she is. Nothing can truly stop her or make her want to give up. This is present with classic and reboot Lara. No matter what she just keeps moving. This inspires me to keep moving no matter the obstacles I face.

You've cosplayed multiple variations of Lara throughout the games illustrious history. What's been your favourite Lara to cosplay so far? 
I really love cosplaying as reboot Lara. With reboot Lara I get to tell a story. I love to get messy and add a lot of blood and dirt. Sometimes maybe too much. I also like all the gear reboot Lara carries. It makes me feel like a bad ass.

What's it like being part of the Tomb Raider community? 
Being part of the Tomb Raider community is one of the best things that ever happened to me. Everyone I meet is so kind, and it just truly feels like a family. I have met so many people through Tomb Raider and I'm the luckiest person ever to call them my friends.

What's your thoughts on the upcoming live-action Tomb Raider film?
I am beyond excited. It looks so great. I don't care if it's going to be good or bad I'm just happy to see Lara back in theaters. I can't wait!

Favourite Tomb Raider game, and why?
When I'm asked this question I always break it down to the era's of Lara. Meaning the core developed games, Crystal Dynamic's trilogy, and the reboot. My favorite from core is Tomb Raider 2, for the trilogy I love Underworld, and for the reboot era I go with Rise. Action adventure games are my favorite and I feel these TR games delivered the best in that aspect. I love the sense of globetrotting and finding clues to where in the world you need to go next. Hopefully we'll see more of a true tomb raiding adventure with the next game.

So we now know your favourite Tomb Raider game, but is there a particular moment in the series that you love the most? For me, I have so many fond memories of the older levels, like Venice, for example. What moment gives you these fond memories?
I have the most memories of the Great Wall of China level in Tomb Raider 2. Mostly because it's the first TR level I ever completed by myself as a kid. It's so iconic to the franchise as well. Every one knows that scene where Lara jumps out of that red helicopter.

Besides Lara, who's your favourite character in the Tomb Raider series?
I've never thought about this in depth too much. I'd probably have to go to the comics and say Chase Carver. I would love to cosplay as him.

And that leads onto the next question...if you can cosplay any other character, who would it be? 
Either Chase Carver or the doppelgänger from Underworld. She's kind of bad ass!

With fellow Lara cosplayer Jenn Croft

So, you're pretty involved in the Tomb Raider community. What's it been like getting involved in this? 
It's mind blowing. I've been featured on Tomb Raider's social channels and even IGN. I've only started cosplay three years ago and the response I've been getting from Tomb Raider fans that inspired me to cosplay is incredible. 

And finally, is there anything exciting in the pipeline for you? 
I'm trying to focus on completing an Underworld and Legend cosplay soon. I'd really like to get started with them!

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