The Trial of the Tomb Raider

Featuring guest co-hosts Alex Fitzpatrick, Imogen Mellor and Florence Smith Nicholls!

Her reign of archaeological terror ends here. Lara Croft, known to some as the “Tomb Raider”, has been stealing ancient artefacts and impatiently kicking skulls out of her way for too long. Today, in a special holiday episode of Hey Lesson, we are putting the infamous plunderer on trial for her crimes. Those crimes are mainly being a poor archaeologist and a questionable archer to boot. She will be judged by a (very small) jury of her peers. Two archaeologists, one archer, and a mostly clueless host who is mainly there to ask leading questions. Lara will be tried in absentia, because she is a fictional character and cannot take the stand in her own defence. Yes, this is a show trial. We follow our own customs of law and order here on Hey Lesson. Happy holidays.

Support Hey Lesson on Patreon!

Click “read more” for a full list of links and transcription.

Links:

Follow our jurists on Twitter: Alex Fitzpatrick, Imogen Mellor and Florence Smith Nicholls.

Alex’s zooarchaeology blog

Imogen’s Twitch channel

Florence’s archaeogaming blog

All SFX from Shadow of the Tomb Raider

Transcription:

Transcription

Unuratu (soundbite): Who are you? What’s your purpose here?
Lara: I’m a… researcher. Lara Croft.

Brendan Caldwell: (host): Hello, and welcome to a very special episode of, Hey Lesson in the podcast where we ask smart people, silly questions about video games. Normally what we do is we have a game in mind and we speak to an expert who can tell us something about a related topic in real life. For example, we might talk to a caving instructor about Spelunky, or we might interview a parasite biologist about brain worms in Baldur’s Gate 3. For this episode, we’re going a bit off-book. So welcome, lessoners, to the trial of the Tomb Raider!

Imogen Mellor: Spooky.

Brendan: We are going to be talking about Lara Croft, the trigger-happy adventurer of the Tomb, Raider games. Specifically, we’re going to be asking the question: is Lara a good archaeologist? It’s something of a loaded question or a leading question, but to help us answer it, uh, we have not one expert, not two experts, but three experts. And they are all here with me. Now I’m going to let you all introduce yourselves.

Imogen (journalist, archer): I’m Imogen Mellor. I’m a games journalist. I work for GamingBible. I’ve worked in various other outlets. Um, I’m here not because I’m a games journalist, but more specifically I’m an archer of a few years. I do Olympic recurve archery and I did so for the University of Birmingham. And I’ve written about and screamed internally about archers in games being inaccurate and a bit silly for the last few years. So, yeah, that’s me.

Alex Fitzpatrick (archaeologist): Yeah. I am Alex Fitzpatrick, almost “Doctor” Alex Fitzpatrick, uh, I just successfully defended my PhD.

Imogen: Congrats.

Alex: Thank you. I just wanted to get people to say “congrats”. I am a zooarchaeologist by trade. Um, but you know, obviously also generally an archaeologist. And I guess a gaming person, which is why I assume I was asked to be on here, other than just also being very loud about things in general on Twitter. I talk about video games and archaeology a fair amount, not to the in-depth kind of ways that say Florence does, uh, because that’s just something my brain can’t handle, but more general stuff about, you know, the bioarchaeology of the Witcher, things like that. Because it’s fun. And I needed to excuse the, you know, 800 hours I have in Skyrim.

Brendan: Florence?

Florence Smith Nicholls (archaeologist): So I’m Florence Smith Nicholls. I’ve been working in commercial archaeology since 2015, I think. Um, but I also do research into “archaeogaming” which is the intersection of archaeology and video games… like Alex mentioned there. Um, so yeah, that’s why I’ve been brought on board as well.

Brendan: So we’ve got two archaeologists, one Archer, it’s all gonna come together. On top of that we’re all video game knowers as well. So this should be pretty straightforward.

Imogen: Actually, I’ve never heard… What is a video game?

Brendan: Oh, no… Let us now call Lara Croft, aka the Tomb Raider, aka the plunderer of Peru, aka Lara the Explara… to the stand.

Lara Croft (soundbite): What have I done!?

Brendan: I’m going to have a signed effect in there and it’ll be, it’ll be nice.

Imogen: Don’t. Don’t put the sound effect, just put that, the voice. Yeah.

Brendan: Well, Lara’s not actually here. This trial is being held in absentia, but that’s okay. It’s not a real trial. Uh, I’m just going to ask one of you to briefly give the listener a rundown of who the Tomb Raider is as a character. Just in case anyone has been happily ignoring her for a while. Imogen, could you fill us in? Who is Lara Croft?

Imogen: Oh gosh. Uh, Lara Croft, I guess… Actually, I’m young enough that I don’t remember the origins of Lara Croft. I only know the newer games in which she is just a British, uh… is she an archaeologist? Is she actually like a qualified archaeologist? I don’t know. She, at various points, gets into trouble, crashing into a country where she is hunted down by various people. And she’s very British about it and kills a lot of people and animals along the way. That is my understanding of Tomb Raider.

Brendan: Yeah. So there were older games in the 1990s and early 2000s, and then there was this gritty reboot that’s come in the last few years. So like, what does the player do in her games? Is it just digging things up and shooting men?

Imogen: As far as I understand it. It’s digging things up, taking things from, uh, countries that she doesn’t really know how to navigate, while someone wants her dead… And then kills a lot of other people in revenge. You know.

Brendan: Our question – “is she a good archaeologist?” – It might seem pretty open and shut. Um, but it will be interesting to go into exactly why, since we have some archaeologists right here. Alex, I’m guessing you have dug stuff up in the past.

Alex: Yeah, occasionally. And that’s not even a sarcastic joke. I literally only have dug twice in my life. I’m more of a lab archaeologist. Um, just because I tend to have things fall on me. I’ve had boulders fall on me. I’ve fallen off of boulders. Uh, I basically got stuck in a cave for 12 hours because of high tide. So, like, I get the adventurous side, I can really relate to that. And actually it’s really interesting that Imogen pointed out that you don’t have any experience with the older games. Cause I actually have the opposite experience. The Tomb Raider games were basically the games I played as a kid. I played… the first reboot. I haven’t played the second one yet. So I’m coming from this more from the old school, uh, double pistols, triangle breasts age. Which again I can totally relate to. Actually, when I’ve done excavations, I… I didn’t mean to dress like this, but I used to be called Tomb Raider because I would wear the army pants, tank top, aviator sunglasses to site all the time.

Brendan: You cosplayed as Lara when you were doing your job.

Alex: I mean I didn’t have the triangular bra to like get the actual, you know, vibe going but–

Imogen: What? Why wouldn’t you! Wow. Come on, not accurate cosplay at all.

Alex: I know.

Imogen: Zero out of ten, how dare you.

Florence: Bit of a let-down but…

Alex: That’s why I don’t dig anymore. I’m just really letting everyone down. But from what I remember, I will say – to get back on track – from what I remember, I don’t remember doing much digging. She does a lot of jumping over things. She does a lot of, you know, going “huh!” and then going to grab onto ledges and pulling herself up from ledges. So, I mean, it’s sometimes part of the job as someone who’s had to basically go spelunking to excavate before, but she doesn’t really do that much digging. Can’t relate.

Brendan: When she does… she does a little bit of digging in these newer games. But whenever she does a dig, it’s usually just by jamming her knife into the ground and wiggling something that’s been there for a thousand years out of the ground. Is that… is that what a real archeological dig site is like Florence? Is that how careful you have to be?

Florence: So yeah, when I worked as a commercial field archaeologist, um, that would mean kind of like donning full high-vis gear, a hard hat… which I think is very different to what Lara Croft typically wears. Yeah, and being on these big construction sites sometimes you’d have to go down five meter holes in the ground in the middle of London, get out your trowel and certainly you might have to quickly kind of jab away at soil. But it wouldn’t have been, um, jabbing something with a knife. So that doesn’t sound like my experience of archaeology.

Brendan: In other words, you’re saying there are rules you probably have to follow when you pull something out of the dirt.

Florence: Yeah, exactly. I mean, just taking an object out of the ground probably isn’t a good idea if you haven’t recorded it first. Because in archaeology the context is the key thing. Like what deposit have you found it in? So that then you can relate it to other deposits and try and date it and things like that. So, yeah, just kind of grabbing stuff… Unfortunately we can’t just grab and run.

Brendan: When you do take something out of the ground you have to document each find then? You can’t just do what Lara does and just throw it over your back into your backpack.

Florence: Yeah, definitely. Um, you should record as much as you can, whether that’s like photography or taking notes on a contact sheet or something like that, taking measurements. Yeah. And definitely not just chucking it into your bag.

Dominguez (soundbite): It never occurred to me that you would just take it!

Brendan: Other things about Lara’s process might be pretty questionable. If you’re walking through the rainforest in the game and you find the remains of a temple, you can basically crack the blocked doorways of it open with a pickaxe, like it’s a boiled egg. But I mean, in reality, what is the procedure there? If you find something as big as that?

Alex: I mean, uh, I’ve definitely seen people take a mattock to help open up a neolithic cairn before, but you do that with the understanding that, you know, it’s going to be more or less impossible, either way. I was just thinking about it as you’re talking about, you know, the kind of grab-and-go mentality. I’ve actually worked on a rescue archaeology site before, and that has some aspects of that. In that you’re really racing against time. I’ve worked on the site of Swandro on the Orkney islands and it is on the beach. So it’s being eroded away every single year. So a lot of it does feel like a grab-and-go type of thing. And that’s the site where… we’ve had to take a mattock just to break through ground and try to record as much as possible. So sometimes, you know, but we try not to. I mean, if anything you can say Lara Croft is in the tradition of old timey archaeologists, who would take… like, dynamite to the top of a temple to get through. So like, you know, she’s traditional in a lot of ways.

Brendan: There are baddies, I think, in the [latest] game who use explosives to get in. And, uh, Lara and her buddy kind of look down on that, and frown on that as if what they’re doing is much better. Imogen, you’re here as our Archer, our forensic expert witness, uh, of archery. Lara might be a pretty bad archaeologist by the sounds of things. But maybe you can tell us: is she at least a good archer?

Imogen: Uh, God… Okay so. I have frequently talked about archery in terms of… I struggle sometimes to call someone a “bad archer”. Because if you aim somewhere, the character will hit it. So… if you’re aiming and you’re firing and it’s hitting, that’s fine. If you look at any semblance of form with Lara, it’s exaggerated and silly, and she would have absolutely caused herself so much physical damage… It makes me cringe a little bit when I see gameplay. Cause I’m just like, “Oh God, all of the skin on your arm is gone. You shouldn’t have skin there.”

Brendan: Why would it hurt her arm in that way though?

Imogen: Um, so with archery… I do Olympic recurve, and there’s like different versions of archery, but they’re all basically “bring string to face with arrow loaded, let go of string arrow goes flying”. One of the big things that anyone who starts archery for the first time knows is that you can’t… if you let go of that string – you can’t see me right now, but I’m physically putting my arms up and firing a shot in my head to talk about this – if you let go of the string and your arm is anywhere in the way… the string that is now loaded with minimum, like, 30 pounds worth of weight, will skip along your arm and hit it. And you know, sometimes, at least bruise it quite badly. But in some of the gameplay, she is firing arrows pretty far with compounds and it would just take off the skin on her arm. It just would.

Brendan: Owwww.

Imogen: Yeah. I mean, not to mention the fact that sometimes she draws the string into her armpits and would definitely punch herself in the face at some points. There’s so much inaccuracy to that, but again, she’s hitting the things she’s supposed to hit and she’s doing it well and she can kill three people in under a second. So is she a bad archer? Kind of “no”. In other ways, “yes”.

Brendan: She sometimes shoots her bow, uh, in a cool sideways fashion. Is that a thing that archers do?

Imogen: Uhhh, not really. The problem is that as soon as you… okay, so if you’re thinking about a bow being upright, very classical, there is nothing in the way between your face – where you should bring the arrow to – and where your hand is, where the bow actually is. If you turn any bow sideways and think about the distance between your armpit and your hand, and you’re face and your hand, it’s shorter, right? That’s just how things work. Which means that it would be less poundage, everything would be off, the arrow would fall off the rest. There are circumstances in which compound bows – which is what Laura does get to eventually – there are certain rests that can be inverted and the arrow would pass through very cleanly. But with a normal bow in any circumstance, it should be upright or it won’t, you know… the arrow won’t stay where it’s supposed to and you will be flying arrows wildly out, nowhere near where you’re supposed to be aiming. Um, you do see some trick archers do sideways bow, like bow action. But they’re trick archers and it’s not archery-archery. It’s, you know, very flashy archery that you see people do on YouTube. And it can’t really be practiced in the same sort of way.

Brendan: You’re saying that Lara would not attempt a trick shot when a Jaguar is currently trying to hound her down.

Imogen: I mean, she does do it. So I can’t blame her. I mean, if she was here, if I could talk to Lara, I would love to hear opinions on how she does that. Why she decides to do fancy archery when she’s about to die. Like, where does that come from?

Brendan: Well, I’m afraid Lara didn’t accept our summons to court for this episode.

Imogen. Rip.

Alex: Typical.

Child Lara playing (soundbite): To claim her treasure, the adventurer Lara Croft must outwit the King, reach the forbidden tomb, and solve the mystery of the white queen. The way will be fraught with trials!

Brendan: Another thing that, uh, people may have noticed when they play the game is that her prep work always seems to be kind of done on the fly. Her and her buddy Jonah in the recent game, for example, almost seemed to be coming up with theories and working out the locations of ancient ruins as they go along. But… I’m guessing archaeologists don’t figure that stuff out in that way. How do you really figure out where something is buried or local?

Florence: Yeah, I think I can speak to this a bit because my current job is being a heritage consultant and that involves doing the background research for a site to work out if you’re likely to find anything there. And for that, you need to look at things like old maps, archives, previous excavations to kind of work out what you might find there. So, yeah, that’s not what you’d kind of ideally do. But having said that, I think the case in archaeology is always that you never really know what you’re going to find until you actually dig it up. There’s always a surprise, or nothing, you know.

Imogen: The ultimate loot box.

Alex: Oh my God.

Florence: I hadn’t thought of it like that, but yeah. It kind of is.

Alex: That sentence did psychic damage to me. Just sitting here.

Brendan: Trying to dig through another cairn, and finding out: “Aw, I’ve already got this one. I’m gonna have to break it down for scrap.”

Alex: I mean, you do feel that way sometimes, especially as a zooarchaeologist where you’re kind of just going through the scraps that no one else wants to look at. Because no one else likes animal bones like I do.

Brendan: So do you just go through the bones that you find and be like, “Oh, another canine thigh bone.”

Alex: Yeah, literally I will get boxes and bags, like giant bags of what looks like just dirt. And it’s just like, “Oh, this is the stuff from our spoil heap. Can you look through it?” And then it takes me a few weeks to go through and then I’ll be like, “I have a thousand animal bones. Thanks a lot guys.”

Brendan: Is the spoil heap just like the leftovers that people can’t identify or something that’s done on a dig site?

Alex: It’s basically… when you dig, obviously you accumulate a lot of, you know, dirt, soil, whatever you’re digging. So it’s stuff like that because obviously when you dig… it’s not perfect… you won’t be able to remove stuff without taking other things. So then you get the real dorks like me and other environmental archaeologists. And I say “dorks” lovingly to all the other environmental archaeologists who are listening to this right now. Uh, but we like, we like the nitty gritty stuff. So like obviously I like animal bones. And then there’s people who I don’t understand who like pollen remains and grains and… that stuff’s too small for me. I don’t understand how people look at that stuff. I can barely do fish bones to be honest.

Brendan: Just because they’re too small? And you’re like, “Oh, trout whatever”?

Alex: I mean, seriously, like this sounds like a joke, but it’s not. When I did my master’s degree, I did it specifically on fish bones and I counted all these tiny little safe vertebrae. And then I sneezed… and they went flying. And that’s when I swore them off for good. I do not care what they have to add to the archeological record. I will toss them if you give them to me. Right out the window.

Brendan: I love how you have been so careful with these fish bones and a single sneeze has caused this irreparable – or not irreparable, but this big setback I’m guessing – meanwhile, Lara Croft finds an ancient Tibetan bell and she thinks: “What can I do with this? I’ll turn it into a kind of pulley system so I can get across like that gap.”

Alex: Just physical pain when that happens. Just absolute physical pain, every step she takes, I recoil because I can just think of all the microfauna that’s over that she’s just stepping on. I mean, Florence could attest to this when you work on sites. For the most part, I have done the thing where you kinda have to like hop from one pavement slab to another, to not like mess up the soil. So when you see… Lara Croft, just running through an archeological site? Just absolutely doubled up in pain over that. It’s very sad.

Florence: I feel like running around an archeological site is probably the last thing that you want to do generally, unless there’s like, I dunno, something chasing you, which I suppose happens to Lara quite a lot. So maybe that’s fair, but otherwise…

Alex: No excuse.

Imogen: I’ve just got terrible memories of not just Lara, but Nathan Drake destroying an entire city or two.

Brendan: I mean, Nathan Drake is a whole other trial. That’s that’s whole other… There’s a whole bunch of case files back in the office that we need to get through before we can start dealing with that homicidal maniac. Lara’s attitude to Tomb Raiding, they try to address it a little bit in the most recent game, Shadow of the Tomb Raider. They kind of admit that she does just go to places and she just takes things, like a sort of entitled globe-trotting gap year student…

Alex: Sort of like a “Tomb Raider”, you could say.

Brendan: You could say, yes.

Florence: At least it’s honest.

Alex: I dunno, I’m just spitballing here.

Brendan: But, from what I understand, taking things from one nation to another is a contentious area of archaeology, right? If you’re an archaeologist in a country that’s not your ow, how should you really be behaving? Like what ideally should happen to the objects or the places that you’re digging up, for example?

Alex: I mean, you know, that’s, uh, sadly a very contentious discussion… I think luckily me and Florence are on the same page about that, but… people in our field are still pushing against it. You know, you get those people who are like, “Oh, but you know, they can’t take care of those artifacts. There they’ll be destroyed. So we have to take care of them.” And I mean, you know, it’s… what happens when you have a colonial discipline like archaeology. The dregs of that still remain. Lara Croft is one of many romanticised versions of archaeology that still exists… I watched my partner play the most recent game and I saw he was pointing that stuff out. Cause he knows I’m very interested in this kind of stuff with archaeology. And I think ultimately, you would have to make a completely different character if you want to actually do it quote-unquote “right”. It’s the same issue I think you have with Indiana Jones. The point of the character is to romanticise the field to be more of an exotic kind of adventure, a swashbuckling type thing. And to make it ethical, you’d kind of just have to scrap it in a lot of ways. Although maybe keep the archery. The archery seems cool. Maybe bring back the double pistols. I always liked that.

Imogen: I mean, it’s just Orientalism, isn’t it? It’s the fact that people think that something other than Western culture isn’t capable of dealing with its own history. Hashtag Black Panther deals with it too – I love Black Panther – I’m not an archaeologist so I can’t really talk on the subject too much, but you know, it’s a problem in that I think every archaeologist I can name in any sort of Western media is this savior to these artifacts. They’re going to save them. They couldn’t be taken care of by the people that actually care about the culture, you know?

Florence: I remember seeing a tweet a while back where someone was saying, “Oh, why can’t have like a version of Lara Croft where maybe she returns objects that have been stolen and are in the British museum right now.

Imogen: I’d play that. I’d play the heck out of that.

Florence: I know, that’d be so good.

Brendan: The Tomb Restorer.

Alex: The Tomb Repatriator.

Brendan: Oh, I like that.

Alex: Oh wait, no, cut that out. Cut that out. That’s a paper I’m going to write for Nature or something. Cut this all out.

Brendan: I guess like you were saying, Alex, it’s romanticized, it’s an action game. It’s not going to be taken seriously by a lot of people. Are we being too harsh on Lara? Should we let games be a bit silly for the sake of entertainment? Or should – I guess you were saying it should be scrapped but I have it written down so I shall ask the question – should any future Tomb Raider try to better reflect the reality of this type of work?

Alex: I mean, sorry, I keep talking. I’m an American. This is, it’s just my nature… When I say scrapped, I mean, I think there’s a way you can do it… Because I’ve heard this a lot as well… not just with archaeology but with a lot of other things. Like, you know, “it’s fake, people know it’s not real”. Like: “just have people have their fun” and… well, the problem is when it’s the only depiction of your field. I couldn’t necessarily tell you any depiction of archaeology in the sense of it being a bit more ethical. Like I know, uh, Heaven’s Vault is one of those games that came out kind of recently, which I still have to play – but it’s coming to Switch so I can play it now – which is a bit more ethical in it’s depiction of archaeology. But when you don’t have that as a nice balance, then it becomes problematic. So I think there’s a way you could do it with a future Tomb Raider game, but it’d have to be really transformative and really different. And uh, I’m not a video game designer, so I couldn’t really speak to that. But hey, if anyone wants to, you know, hire me as a consultant, I don’t have much to do so…

Imogen: To be fair, I think it’s… more acceptable in my mind if the person knows what they’re doing is wrong, or if they’re doing it for selfish reasons. That pretending to be a savior for a thing, I don’t like it. But with… we’ve just talked about Nathan Drake briefly. Nathan Drake’s idea is sort of, he’s a bit of a thief, you know? Like, my mind goes to the fact that he’s not an archaeologist at all, he’s there for wealth and you know, and, and prizes and women, you know, it’s sort of this other version where he doesn’t think he’s a particularly good guy. I mean, he doesn’t have a nice life by the end – spoilers I guess – but like he’s not pretending to be good at what he does, you know?

Florence: Yeah. That makes sense. I was thinking about this question of “is Lara Croft a good archaeologist?” And maybe she’s a very, very flawed, public archaeologist in the sense that maybe people have gotten more interested in archaeology and history through playing the game. But of course it’s a very flawed version of doing archaeology. So yeah. I don’t know how to feel about that. I guess it’s, it’s nice if people have gone on to learn more about history and archaeology and I understand some people really love the games, but yeah, that’s a difficult one.

Bad guy (soundbite): God damn archaeologists

Brendan: For sentencing purposes, I don’t know what we’re going to do. I haven’t thought this far ahead. Um, with Lara… I guess her crimes not just including, you know, stealing artifacts from various countries, bringing them back to live in glass cases in Croft manor and, you know, the murder of various people around the globe and the killing of endangered animals and so forth. Um, do we… Do we lock her up? Do we put her on a “no-fly” list? Do we take away her bow and arrows? What is an acceptable or appropriate punishment for Lara here?

Alex: I think she should work for the rest of her life as a lab technician in post-excavation in England. I think she should be in charge of sorting out, uh, bones from soil. She’d be doing the, uh, flodding [sp?] which is when you put it into water and you like, I don’t know, I’ve never really done flodding. It sounds very boring and tedious, but stuff like that I think would be good. You know?

Imogen: Um, and on the weekends… she would be forced to try and teach 7-12 year olds archery in a safe manner, with bows no heavier than 12 pounds.

Brendan: This could go very wrong, Imogen.

Imogen: At all times there are at least three safety managers watching.

Brendan: Florence, do you have anything to add, which may rehabilitate Lara Croft further?

Florence: Okay. So with her manor, what are we going to do with that? Can we make it a publicly owned museum or something? I dunno what the best thing to do with that is, but something anyway. And I was thinking: Oh, maybe we can make her play her own games over and over again.

Alex: No, actually that sounds great. Because has anyone tried to play the older games? Because they’re very difficult to play these days. I couldn’t get past the tutorial of, uh Resurrection, was that the one? It’s the one where you flashback and do stuff with the German tutor guy. But man, I could not jump over a chasm like I was supposed to. I don’t know how I did that when I was like eight years old.

Imogen: I’ve just looked at when the original Tomb Raider was released… Um, the game is older than I am. So no, I haven’t tried to play any of the original Tomb Raiders…

Brendan: I mean, don’t.

Imogen: No, I’ve heard they’re just super difficult… because of the graphics. You can’t tell what anything is. It’s just a blur

Alex: Do you like strafing? Because boy, do I have a game for you!

Imogen: That sounds like something you would ask at a bar. “Hey, girl, do you, uh… do you like strafing?”

Alex: You can’t even turn around properly. She has to, like, do a sidestep strafing thing and… ugh.

Imogen: To be fair I never got into Tomb Raider games in part because I think – I dunno, maybe I’ve spent too much time doing sociology as my degree – but part of me thinks it is very male gazey, and I just can’t. I can’t play it really, while enjoying the character, because I’m just like: why isn’t she wearing the correct things for the situation? Like, why… no matter what, she has just been in a fight for her life, and she still looks phenomenal, you know? There’s a big problem for me trying to play any Tomb Raider. If you look at it, I’m just like, wow, this is just not a game designed for me at all. So I’m just gonna… leave it away from me. I’ll watch people play it. I’ve watched my little sister play the games. But I didn’t play them myself.

Brendan: I was playing a little earlier in the week to try and prepare myself for this. And my wife walked into the room and she looked at Lara and she said: “Is that Lara Croft?” I said: “Yes, that’s Lara.” And she said: “She has terrible hair.” And walked away. And I didn’t have… I was too proud to admit that actually the hair in this game is supposed to be phenomenal. I just don’t have a good enough graphics card to give her that hair. So she’s stuck with this weird Barbie haircut.

Imogen: Amazing 10 out of 10.

Winston the butler (soundbite): Tea, Miss Croft?
Lara: Lovely!

Brendan: Would you all like to play a small guessing game, a quiz of sorts? To test your Tomb Raider knowledge?

Imogen: Oh gosh. I’ll just say, let us see if there’s multiple choice for any of them. That’s all I’ll say, but yes.

Florence: Yeah, go for it.

Brendan: It’s basically a true or false thing. So you do have a 50-50 chance of getting these, right. I am going to read out some artifacts. All I want to know is: is this something Laura has looted from somewhere, in her past? Or is it just something she hasn’t yet attained?

Alex: “Yet”.

Florence: Not yet.

Brendan: First off, the eye of Horus?

Alex: She did. Yes, yes. Sorry. I said multiple words there that weren’t “true” or “false”.

Brendan: You’re right. She loaded that in the original Tomb Raider of 1996 as part of a puzzle. The Holy Grail?

Imogen: True. Has to be…. Oh, I say that too confidently now.

Alex: I don’t think she has.

Florence: Maybe not, yeah.

Brendan: She hasn’t. As far as I know. She did find the Chalice of Torment in Atlantis in Tomb Raider Anniversary.

Imogen: Oh yes, the Chalice of Torment. How could I forget.

Brendan: What about the death mask of Agamemnon?

Florence: Ooh, wasn’t there a mask in one of the games that’s based on that, but it’s not actually that, that she finds? I was reading something about this earlier. Could be completely off the mark.

Brendan: Alex, Imogen, do you have any guesses?

Imogen: I’m just going to go with a solid “no” for this one. Cause I can’t spell the last word.

Alex: I’m going to say no, cause I don’t remember her that actively taking an actual thing. Uh, but maybe I’m wrong.

Brendan: She hasn’t, it’s a bit of a trick question. Her father looted it and it appears in Shadow of the Tomb Raider in a case in Croft manor. Ah, what about Excalibur?

Imogen: I want to say yes. But I feel like it’s no.

Florence: It’d be pretty impressive.

Alex: Yeah. I don’t think so either.

Florence: Nah.

Alex: I really don’t remember

Brendan: She has got Excalibur, yes.

Imogen: You what?

Brendan: She found it in Tomb Raider Legend. It is the strongest weapon in the game, and it can kill enemies in one hit.

Alex: Oh wow.

Imogen: I want to own Excalibur. Lara gets all the good loot. What can I say?

Brendan: How about the armor of Beowulf?

Alex: Oh, like the CGI armor from the Zemeckis movie? Like, specifically that. That’s what she has.

Brendan: Um, is that the one that Ray Winstone wears?

Alex: I think so.

Imogen: She has the hard drive that it’s saved on.

Alex: Yeah. So then the answer is true. Obviously.

Brendan: She doesn’t have that one, no. She did find the armor of Horace, again, in Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation.

Alex: Yeah. That’s the one. I do remember that. It’s all the ones from Revelation that I vaguely remember. Everything else, I do not.

Brendan: All right. What about Pandora’s Box?

Imogen: The problem here is, I feel like if she did get Pandora’s box, she would open it. So I want to say no on the basis that the world doesn’t end in the games as far as I know.

Alex: Yeah, no?

Florence: No.

Brendan: Yes. She has found it. But in the movie Tomb Raider: Cradle of Life, starring Angelina Jolie.

Imogen: Oh no, you’ve gone into the films.

Florence: I think I made myself forget.

Brendan: All right. Final one. The philosopher’s stone?

Imogen: I’m going to say no, but you’re going to say “in this YouTube video once”.

Alex: “In the graphic novel…”

Florence: “In the crossover with the Harry Potter universe”.

Brendan: She did find the philosopher’s stone in Tomb Raider Chronicles. She found it in the catacombs of Rome… I’ll give anyone here a bonus point – even though I haven’t really been keeping track of points – if any of you can tell me what happened when she took it out of its groove in a golden wall.

Imogen: Hagrid comes out and screams “you’re a wizard Harry!”

Alex: But it’s like PS one Hagrid, like the low-poly model.

Florence: I dunno, does it wipe your save file or something?

Brendan: That would have been amazing!

Alex: Like Eternal Darkness stuff where it just kind of like messes up your brain? That would rule.

Brendan: It’s much simpler than that. The floor simply collapses below her.

Alex: Oh, booooo.

Florence: Hmmm.

Imogen: Classic. Classic.

Brendan: All right. I think, uh, looking at the scores here, you’ve all won.

Imogen: Oh, thank you, when do I get my prize? Is it in the post already?

Brendan: Uh, yes. Excalibur is making its way to you right now, Imogen.

Taruca (soundbite): Sometimes there is justice.
Lara: Sometimes.

Brendan: Okay. Well, that’s all we have time for. We’re going to have to leave it here. You’ve been listening to the Trial of the Tomb Raider, a very special episode of Hey Lesson. Thank you very much to our jury, Florence, Imogen, and Alex. You’ve all been great. Thank you very much.

Imogen: Thank you very much for having me.

Florence: Thank you.

Alex: Yeah, thank you.

Brendan: If people want to hear more from youse, where would they find you on the internet? Like Twitter, Twitch, a website? We can start with Florence?

Florence: Yeah, I’m on Twitter @Florencesn.

Brendan: What about you, Imogen?

Imogen: Uh, I’m perpetually on Twitter @ImoMellor. And I also do a lot of Twitch streaming, at m0rmento where the first O is a zero. I didn’t put both zeros. I don’t ask me why, that was just something that never occurred to me. But yeah, those places and Instagram @ImoMellor as well.

Alex: For my sins I am also always on Twitter, @ArchaeologyFitz. Um, I’m also on Instagram, under @ArchaeologyFitz. I am the co-host of a podcast about zooarchaeology called Archeoanimals, which you can find wherever, I don’t know, whatever. And I have a blog, uh, animalarchaeology.com… all the other archaeologists are mad at me for getting that domain name. Ha!

Brendan: I have listened to an episode of the podcast where you talked about Mass Effect, the zooarchaeology of the monsters in Mass Effect… giant worms and stuff.

Alex: Oh, my bad takes on how I romance everyone’s least favorite character in Mass Effect. And I’m still awaiting the hate mail for that. Yeah.

Imogen: Wait, who did you romance in Mass Effect?

Brendan: Yeah.

Alex: I am a Kaidan romancer and I do it for all three games of Mass Effect. And some people will never let me live that down. Listen, I like a nice, boring life to balance out the rest. Let me live.

Brendan: Just you and Kaidan, counting out your fish bones.

Alex: Yup. The dream…

Brendan: Uh, no judgment here. It’s fine. Cool. I’ve been Brendan Caldwell, your host. And I’m going to do some shout outs at the end of this podcast as a Christmas treat. So if you’re a supporter of the show, please stick around to hear that, uh, if you have enjoyed this episode or others, and you wanted to become a supporter, you can do that too. For $2 a month on Patreon, you can help us keep going with no ads or sponsors, and you also got extra goodies, including access to unabridged interviews, behind-the-scenes updates, and bonus episodes. Just head to patreon.com/heylesson, or check the link in the show notes. But for now, once again, a big thanks to our three experts – multi-talented experts – and to everyone at home, keep lessoning goodbye.

Lara Croft (soundbite): I had it all wrong. I thought that taking control of my life meant venturing out to do something extraordinary. I thought I had to fix everything…