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Obsession in Rise of the Tomb Raider

Rise of the Tomb Raider was released in 2015, the year two major life changes happened to me. My parents were divorcing while I was at the midpoint of my undergraduate studies. Low grades additionally contributed to loathing Computer Science. I thought I wanted to be a programmer in video game development, but years of stress brought me to tears early in the fall term. Many of us recall or know how challenging college is. Like Lara Croft, I had to find a way to get through it, to discover what I loved. 

The second game in the reboot trilogy, Rise of the Tomb Raider, has Lara Croft seeking a millennia-old divine object called the Divine Source, once used by a man known as the Deathless Prophet. Her late father, Lord Richard Croft, became obsessed with searching for it while trying to sidestep his enemy Trinity, a private military organization. Lara’s drive to follow in his footsteps coalesced with her passion to obtain the Divine Source, then study it. Like him, she wanted to use its power to help sick and injured people, as well as unlock eternal life. But in order to find the Divine Source, she endangers her best friend, allies, and herself.

Early on, Lara’s goal gets her to the line of obsession, just like her dad. More than a one-time focus; it’s an internal, continuous pouring over. ”Just think! If this thing could really unlock the secret of immortality, it … it would change everything! Sickness, suffering, death … gone!” she says to her best friend Jonah at Croft Manor. Jonah replies, “Are you listening to yourself? … I don’t care if it’s real! I’ve lost too many friends. I don’t want to lose you too.”

She invests so much of her time that Jonah joins the high-stakes adventure to make sure her inward craze does not kill her. To Lara, she must be the one to put a stop to Trinity’s goal: using the Divine Source to remake the world. No one else is willing to face them in a hurry. But while the powers-that-be stand by, Lara is a force of nature. She searches caverns, scales the ancient stone structures of the Remnant—her allies in this game—and battles through ruins of a Russian mining town used by Trinity. Lara whoops butt in these locations with an arsenal of weapons. All this while discovering knowledge with pure childlike fascination. She gets lost in awe, saying “Incredible,” as she touches ancient languages written on stone. It is what brings her gritty adventures down to a relatable level.

The farther Lara searches for the Divine Source, the farther she pushes against Trinity, the more the passion invades every inch of her being. Finding archaeological items of value and defeating anyone who gets in her way is more than her occupation; it is how she strives to reconnect with her absent father. Drive begets obsession; obsession begets idolatry. An external obstacle made internal to overcome. Don’t get me wrong, Lara is a blast to play as and fantastic at her job. But, when she says to Jonah, “It’s all I have,” she reveals this is her self-given purpose. 

The Divine Source won’t help her conquer her internal obstacles.

That is not the mindset God has for us. He has a special purpose for his followers. Each has gifts, skills, or talents, like Lara Croft. Filling our lives with the purpose the Lord gives us unleashes their potential more than any pursuit of our making. If we get wrapped up in what we believe is best, we are sidelining the most important pursuit. “Will you do this for us, or for that which you seek?” the centuries-old Deathless Prophet asks Lara, kept alive by the not-divine-after-all Divine Source. Later he tells her, “You can’t fill the emptiness inside you, Lara. You can only set it free.” 

To overcome her father’s death from her childhood—and by extension, her mother’s—would be extremely difficult. At the tipping point of the game, Lara gets to an understanding: the Divine Source won’t help her conquer her internal obstacles. She has to let go of her selfish desires. An outward race became a step to finding an inward solution: she finally decides to leave her late father’s influence behind. In the absence of her parents, she will stop trying to live their lives and start living her own. Squeezing her eyes shut, she raises then smashes the glowing blue Divine Source to the stone floor. And what she found was extraordinary! Goal met! Obsession paid off, but at the near expense of Jonah’s life and the Deathless Prophet’s long life. She decides to sacrifice the fabled power the Divine Source has and symbolically accepts her father’s death.

I went through seven years and one term of undergraduate studies to discover my passion for fiction writing. I learned computer science was just not the path God had for me. I didn’t understand coding; I understood writing. Taking a step back recenters our mindset and helps us find the balance. Romans 5: 3-4 says “And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope.”

Lara Croft overcame a lot in this adventure. She struggled with her narrow-mindedness previously, and again here before she let go. She is becoming an extraordinary globe-trotting adventurer, wanting to change the world by finding secrets. Lara learns to decide for herself what’s worth pursuing, not just following after her father’s intriguing, unfinished adventures. Even so, she will try balancing both in the third and final entry in this rebooted series.

Writing stories that leave an impression is Matthew’s life pursuit. When not writing, he consumes single player games, Halo’s multiplayer, and various books. He is a Contract Game Writer, a Freelance Writer, and works toward a career in video game writing and authorship. You can see some of his writing on his website: matthewbirdzell.com

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