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Law Student Wins Prize for Video Game Concept

Lara Croft, a female version of Indiana Jones, is powering a new movie and video game.

Played by Alicia Vikander in the upcoming Tomb Raider reboot, the movie is set for release in early 2018. No telling how much the enterprise will make, but the first game made about $30 million in 48 hours.

So what does that have to do with law school? For one enterprising law student, it's about a prize and a dream.

Fresh Stories

Jules Porter, a student at St. Thomas Law School won a $16,000 prize to develop her idea about video gaming. Through Seraph 7 Studios, she wants to give diverse communities a chance to tell fresh stories and change the culture of gaming.

"[O]ver the decades, there are things developers have yet to address such as the way women are portrayed in gaming," she said. "We're scantily clad, we're hyper-sexualized and it's unrealistic."

The former Marine won the prize in the Fowler Business Concept Challenge, an annual competition that drew students from 30 academic programs. The University of St. Thomas holds the competition with a grant from alumnus Ron Fowler, chief executive officers of Liquid Investments, Inc.

Porter also said people of color are barely included in gaming. "When we are, we're gangsters or drug dealers," she said.

Hyper-Sexualized

As Tomb Raider gamers know, Lara Croft is more than an archaeologist-adventurer. She runs through the jungle in short-shorts and crop tops.

According to studies, that hyper-sexualization has been typical in video gaming for more than 30 years. It is most prominent in male-oriented games.

"The gaming industry has faced a lot of scrutiny," said Teresa Lynch, media communications researcher at Indiana University. "It's realizing it's marginalizing half its audience by making women characters pander to the male gaze."

Porter wants to change that portrayal of women and the negative stereotype of people of color.

"Instead of seeing ourselves as heroes, we're the bad guys," she said. "We don't get to be the hero, and that's a problem."

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