Laid-off "Tomb Raider: Underworld" creative director Eric Lindstrom is apparently answering fan questions on a "Tomb Raider" forums and reveals just how close we may be to getting an M-rated Lara Croft. [UPDATE: We've confirmed that the message board commenter is indeed Lindstrom.]
Since her games were first rated by the Entertainment Software Ratings Board, Lara Croft's adventures have never received a more stringent rating than a T for Teen.
But the chances that she could star in an M-rated game are improving, according to message board posts by someone who claims (and seems to be) "Tomb Raider: Underworld" creative director Eric Lindstrom. The message board poster says he was one of 30 people laid off at "Underworld" development studio Crystal Dynamics following lower-than-expected sales.
First things first: we've not confirmed that it is indeed Lindstrom posting, but it does seem that way. Either Lindstrom or someone doing an awfully good job fooling forum administrators has been posting regularly on the forum for the past 19 hours, answering dozens of fan questions about "Underwold" and the surrounding lore and logistics of the game.
Topics have included the game's DLC, multiplayer designs, Lara lore and other topics capably catalogued by Kotaku, where I discovered the Lindstrom thread in the first place.
What caught my eye since then are the comments from the alleged Lindstrom about taking the series into M-rating territory:
...the Teen rating meant we couldn't do things we wanted to or were done in the past, but it was a publisher mandate at the tmie. [sic] It won't always necessarily be so, though, the future can always be different. [Note from Stephen: the line about what was done "in the past" echoes what another former Crystal Dynamics employee once told me about how sound effects and death animations of Lara Croft from the original, "Tomb Raider," which wasn't rated by the ESRB, had to be scrubbed from the recent re-make of that game to get a T rating.]
...The managers who said it had to be Teen left some time ago, so maybe that could change sometime...
...We were torn about making Underworld a Mature title, in the studio. I wanted to do things that a Teen rating prevented, but I also wanted it to get the players the first unrated games, did. In the end it didn't matter because publishing wanted it to be Teen.
Well, "Tomb Raider" fans? Whether this is really Lindstrom or not, the question has been raised: is the thing Lara Croft needs for a revival an M rating?