I am all about Assassin’s Creed, you guys and girls. A series of games that mixes painstaking attention to historic detail and stabbing people with hidden blades? Yes, please; sign me up. Add the fact that their last game,
Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation, featured
African-French Assassin Aveline de Grandpré scores them major points.
Having her team up with the protagonist of Assassin’s Creed III, the English/Mohawk Ratohnhaké:ton [Conor Kenway]? Icing on the cake.
The last time I wrote about this franchise I covered the racist backlash that Aveline’s character received, and how fans seemingly couldn’t accept the fact that she was a) a woman, and b) Black. I was of course thrilled because, hey, gender and racial diversity in extremely well-made games.
I ask readers of this blog to do this all too often, but imagine my excitement when I found out that Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag would be about pirates. I was beyond thrilled. Pirates are the coolest and you [and a good number of the later Pirates of the Caribbean films] will never be able to convince me otherwise.
Then I forgot about the news completely because let’s face facts, I’m not going to own a WiiU, PS4, or Xbox One in the near future. Not having kept up with the news at all I was both confused and surprised to find this [late, as always] floating around the internet:
Remembering the response to Aveline I expected the worst, but going about a week back into the comments section what I found was . . . positivity. Not only were people really jazzed [I’m sorry for using that adjective] about the trailer, there were little to no racist comments made. In fact, a good number of people liked the character Adéwalé so much they wanted him to be the star of the game:
Now I know you might be saying, “But Evan, by the looks of things, this guy is the star of the game.” Here’s the thing, though: the trailer above is for Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag – Freedom Cry, which is DLC, or downloadable content, for the main game.
Freedom Cry stars the Assassin Adéwalé, one name only, a slave who found freedom as a pirate aboard the Jackdaw. He’s present in ACIV as well, as the second-in-command to Edward Kenway, the protagonist.
Don’t get me wrong, I am all about the idea of another Assassin’s Creed game that features a person of colour, but having this serve as just DLC seems, well, like a trend.
Yes, Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation was its own standalone game, but it was released exclusively for the PlayStation Vita. If you’re not quite sure what that is then you’ve basically already made my point for me. The trend thus far is that you can play as these Black characters, but you’ll have to go out of your way to access their adventures. Since they’re not part of the main storyline, you could skip them if you wanted without missing anything.
Really, this all comes down to the conversation of what “matters,” one that’s been had time and time again in comic books. How important is Spider-Man being half-Black half-Latino if it doesn’t happen in the main universe? Do we need characters of colour to be headlining the games for them to really have an impact? [Whether or not this has already taken place within the franchise is debatable, considering Ratohnhaké:ton and Altaïr Ibn-La’Ahad, of the first game.]
I don’t really mean to criticize Ubisoft, the game developer, with all of this. What they’re doing with this franchise is incredibly respectable, and I applaud them for it. DLC focusing on Adéwalé is not at all a bad thing. I also understand that as far as the main storyline all protagonists must be ancestors of Desmond Miles, whose genetic memories the games follow. That being said, I think the company needs to recognize what featuring these characters can do for the people who play them-
Their announcement that Aveline’s adventures would be rereleased on the PS3, Xbox 360, and Windows in Assassin’s Creed: Liberation HD and the 60 minutes of gameplay she’ll be getting in ACIV:BF are a step in the right direction, and I sincerely hope they keep it up.