Tomb Raider's Lara Croft
Tomb Raider's Lara Croft named the iconic video game character of all time. Wikimedia Commons

Tomb Raider's Lara Croft was voted the most iconic video game character in a new BAFTA poll.

BAFTA revealed the results of its landmark player poll to determine the most iconic video game characters of all time. Over 4,000 gamers worldwide will participate in the poll for the 20th BAFTA Games Awards on Thursday, April 11.

Croft triumphed over gaming legends like Mario and Agent 47 from the "Hitman" series to claim the top spot. Lara Croft, introduced in "Tomb Raider" 28 years ago, has significantly transformed. In 2016, Square Enix CEO Yosuke Matsuda said the series will be "evolving more" over the next few years.

"She's gone from being very pointy and childlike in drawing to very filmic," says Shelley Blond, the actress who voiced the original Lara. Blond, who admitted she's never played the game herself, told BBC Newsbeat she's not surprised.

Blond explained that Lara Croft's core appeal lies in her role as a strong female lead in video games. She embodies girl power and female empowerment. "She's at the forefront; she is what the adventure is," Blond added.

"I had no clue when voicing the original Tomb Raider game that it would be such a global phenomenon, and neither did Eidos or Core Design," the English actress admitted. Coming from a background of children's games, Blond recalled that the team at Core Design certainly hoped Tomb Raider would be a hit.

"But I think it went above and beyond any expectations," she added. Blond drew inspiration from the rough sketches available to develop Lara Croft's voice. She envisioned Croft as a strong, articulate character, akin to a female Indiana Jones."

Blond noted that Croft holds a special place in her heart because of the character's profound impact on gamers. It's incredibly moving to hear stories from people worldwide who found strength and empowerment through Lara, whether it was facing bullies or finding the courage to come out, the 54-year-old voice actor said

"And most beautiful of all is hearing how gamers used to play it with their parents who are no longer with us, and the sound of my voice, the music from the game, and sound effects are all wrapped up in their memories of that loved one," Blond said. "I'm honoured to play a part in that for them."

Lara Croft: A gaming icon's enduring legacy

Debuting in 1996 as the heroine of the "Tomb Raider" video game, Lara Croft has become a multimedia icon. Numerous remasters, television shows, films, and a live London experience solidify her status as a pop culture mainstay.

Lara Croft's adventures are not limited to video games. Actresses Angelina Jolie and Alicia Vikander have portrayed the iconic character in feature films. The baton was passed in 2017 with the release of the first "Tomb Raider" trailer featuring Vikander as Lara Croft, following Jolie's portrayal.

And Tomb Raider's legacy keeps growing! 2024 has already seen the release of "Tomb Raider I-III Remastered" across platforms, with the highly anticipated Netflix series "Tomb Raider: The Legend of Lara Croft" arriving later this year.

Adding to the excitement, Blond will be a presenter at the upcoming 20th BAFTA Games Awards ceremony at London's Queen Elizabeth Hall on Thursday, April 11.