Tomb Raider
Image: Core Design / Crystal Dynamics

Crystal Dynamics, the current custodian of the Tomb Raider franchise, has just released the first three games in a rather excellent remastered collection for modern systems.

As well as cleaning up the visuals, Tomb Raider 1-3 Remastered carries a warning screen when you first boot it up, which states that the titles contain "offensive depictions of peoples and cultures rooted in racial and ethnic prejudices... and do not align with our values at Crystal Dynamics".

While the company also says that it has chosen to retain this sensitive content "in the hopes that we may acknowledge its harmful impact and learn from it", the warning has divided opinion online. While some have welcomed the move, many fans are up in arms about it – a post on the Tomb Raider forums, for example, has now reached a whopping 86 pages and includes many annoyed comments (as well as some more measured ones, it has to be said).

Crystal Dynamics doesn't state precisely which aspect of the original trilogy is likely to cause offence, but our friends over at Push Square have surmised that it's the South Pacific section of Tomb Raider III which is to blame – Lara encounters loincloth-wearing islanders who attack with blowguns and, it is implied, are likely to be cannibals.

Tomb Raider Warning
Image: Crystal Dynamics

It's a given that sensitivities change over time; you wouldn't expect someone from 100 years ago to hold the same prejudices and beliefs as someone from the present day, for example. However, the past few decades, in particular, have seen rapid progress in the areas of sexual, racial and gender equality, and, as a result, many TV programmes now carry similar content warnings. These are designed to inform the viewer, allowing them to switch off if they feel something upsetting might be contained within.

Some fans have applauded Crystal Dynamics for highlighting the offensive content but keeping it in place rather than removing it, while others have claimed that the message merely highlights an issue that many people wouldn't even be upset about; those same people have also said that the warning also appears to be mildly critical of the developers behind these games, and consider it to be something of a betrayal to the vision of the original team.

Should companies include these warnings for other games? For example, the depiction of Dhalsim in the Street Fighter series could be deemed offensive to people from India – should Street Fighter games carry the same message when you start them up? Or do you think that this content should be censored instead, to send a stronger message? Maybe you're of the opinion that nothing should be said at all, as games are a product of their time, like any artform?

Vote in the poll below, and let us know your (sensible and well-considered) thoughts in the comments section.

Should retro games carry sensitive content warnings? (1,305 votes)

  1. Yes23%
  2. No68%
  3. I'm not really sure either way9%