The primary Murderer’s Creed recreation was launched in 2007, and the franchise has been a staple of the Ubisoft library ever since. It’s one of many best-selling online game franchises of all time, with gross sales topping 140 million models as of September 2019, and the next entry is due out in November 2020. The video games have a heavy deal with escapism and discover many various time durations and conditions, from being a misthios mercenary in Historic Greece to a Native American murderer in the course of the upheaval of the American Revolution. Sadly, one scenario that the franchise has been hesitant to let gamers expertise to this point is that of being a feminine murderer.
Up to now, solely 4 of the 23 video games within the sequence have featured feminine protagonists, and solely two of these are from the principle 12 video games within the sequence. In keeping with recent news about Ubisoft, nonetheless, there appears to be a definite motive for the shortage of illustration, which features a office tradition fueled by misogyny behind the scenes.
With that in thoughts, we wished to re-examine among the main feminine characters within the franchise and see what, if any, influence this mentality had on them and the way real-life misogyny can bleed by means of the display screen. So, let’s take a stroll.
Lucy Stillman – Everybody’s Puppet
Lucy Stillman, portrayed by the superb Kristen Bell, is the primary main feminine character we’re launched to within the sequence, showing within the first and second video games, in addition to Brotherhood. She’s the lab tech working with Dr. Warren Vidic on Desmond Miles, and the one who truly has the technical know-how to function the Animus and ship Desmond into the previous. At first, she is portrayed as a assured, composed lady, standing as much as Vidic when he desires to topic Desmond to extra harmful assessments, and coming throughout as a probably sympathetic ally to Desmond in his quest to get out of Abstergo.
Sadly, this characterization falls aside very quickly. Partway by means of the primary recreation, we’re given Lucy’s backstory as a former PhD pupil who had been blacklisted from each tutorial establishment due to the ludicrous nature of her research on cognitive neuroscience. She then went to work for Abstergo Industries, the one place that will rent her, and labored on the Animus Mission for a number of years till they tried to kill her. Vidic saved her life, and he or she’s been working for him ever since, a prisoner of her debt.
This revelation robbed Lucy of her company and freewill, making her merely a puppet with a level in larger training, slightly than a lady who made her personal decisions and choices. From a story perspective, this was all accomplished to additional Desmond’s story—he wanted a sympathetic ally inside Abstergo, and because it actually wasn’t going to be Vidic, the sport determined to go along with Lucy.
In Murderer’s Creed II, Lucy breaks Desmond out of the ability and takes him to her allies within the Murderer’s Order for him to proceed reliving his genetic recollections and furthering the hunt for the Items of Eden. Whereas Lucy and Desmond escaping Abstergo is cool, discovering out she’s working for the Assassins provides one more layer of puppetry to her character. She didn’t even begin her research in neuroscience as a result of she wished to; she began them with the intention to intentionally infiltrate Abstergo, as a result of she was assigned to take action.
Brotherhood is the final recreation that Lucy seems in, and is probably essentially the most egregious instance of her character being handled poorly. The sport pivots from earlier entries and decides to make her a love curiosity for Desmond, with flirty and suggestive traces of dialogue between the 2 of them seemingly popping out of skinny air. And that’s just about her position till she is frozen in place by a Piece of Eden and shanked within the abdomen by an unwilling Desmond with the intention to additional his character arc.
After her dying, Desmond finds out that she had secretly defected to the Templar Order, which is why the Piece of Eden wished her useless, and he or she had been working with Vidic the complete time. This posthumous reveal robs Lucy of the final issues she had left as a personality, actually leaving her as only a device with dialogue used to additional Desmond’s story. Not solely does this reveal stop her from explaining herself or her motivations, it additionally precludes any potential redemption and negates all the bravery that she had proven by means of the primary three video games.
Over the course of simply three video games, Lucy goes from a level-headed, assertive scientist to a multitude of actions with no motivations, as a result of Desmond wanted prodding in the precise locations. That’s not even discussing the degrading and weird-looking “butt-wiggle” stroll or the fan service with the low-cut shirt and skin-tight denims on her character mannequin. She was by no means given the possibility to really be her personal character or her personal individual. As an alternative she was used as a device by the outstanding males in her life, each the Templars and Assassins. This attracts some real-life parallels to the numerous accusations leveled at Ubisoft executives who manipulated and abused the true girls they labored with.
Now, if there had been different outstanding feminine characters in Desmond’s life, or extra outstanding ones within the lives of his ancestors, you might chalk this as much as simply poor characterization and lacking the mark of the character. Nevertheless, Lucy is sadly the primary of a long-standing sample.
Evie Frye and Kassandra – The Shadow Twin and Misplaced Misthios
Advertising and marketing is without doubt one of the most vital instruments an organization has at its disposal. It might probably make or break a recreation, and good advertising and marketing can shoot a undertaking straight to the highest of the best-seller checklist regardless of mediocrity, whereas sub-par advertising and marketing can consign it to being a much-beloved but barely recognized hidden gem. Trailers, field artwork, interviews, and demos can all form a participant’s pre-determined expectations of a recreation lengthy earlier than it is ever launched. A part of the current allegations launched towards Ubisoft particularly talked about the misogyny of the advertising and marketing division, so let’s have a look at how the sequence handled two of its most outstanding girls: Evie Frye and Kassandra.
By the point the franchise acquired to Murderer’s Creed: Syndicate, it was flagging. Yearly releases and extra spin-offs than you may shake a stick at had taken their toll, and it’s no marvel Syndicate was the final foremost recreation for 2 years, particularly given the disastrous launch of Unity simply 11 months earlier. Syndicate starred, for all intents and functions, deuteragonists Jacob and Evie Frye. Nevertheless, you’d by no means know that by Ubisoft’s initial marketing material, their E3 reveal, or the sport’s cowl artwork, in all of which Jacob takes outstanding billing as sole protagonist. The truth is, the primary discover of Evie as a protagonist had come from leaks several months earlier, when the sport was initially billed as Murderer’s Creed: Victory.
In keeping with the current experiences, Jacob and Evie had been each imagined to take prime billing initially. That is sensible, seeing as… that’s how the sport performs. You do missions as each of them, they each have loads of display screen time, and it’s very clear they had been designed as a pair. Evie is accountable, Jacob is reckless, and so they stability one another out properly and help one another’s character arcs. Evie learns to be extra versatile whereas Jacob (kind of) learns to be extra cautious.
Nevertheless, in keeping with Ubisoft’s advertising and marketing division and chief inventive officer Serge Hascoët girls do not promote video games. So Evie was as an alternative handled as an ancillary character to Jacob’s story for a lot of the sport’s advertising and marketing, significantly that which focuses on the Assassins’ road gang, The Rooks. On the one hand, the gang is Jacob’s thought and keenness in-game, however on the opposite, Evie can also be extraordinarily concerned.
However hey, not less than Evie stars within the DLC! That’s nice illustration, proper? No, no it’s not. Ubisoft didn’t suppose that Evie, or any lady, was robust sufficient to hold half of the advertising and marketing for the principle recreation, and having her star within the DLC is the equal of sticking a Band-Help on a stab wound. Simply because “you tried” doesn’t excuse the truth that they reduce her out of the principle recreation’s advertising and marketing within the first place. If something, it is including insult to harm.
Quick-forward three years from Murderer’s Creed: Syndicate to Odyssey. Happening in Historic Greece, 461 BCE, the sport provides you a alternative of protagonists in Kassandra and Alexios. The story performs out the identical both method, with the one not chosen taking the position of the sibling within the recreation’s story. Sadly, Kassandra falls to the identical hurdle of the advertising and marketing division excluding her from preliminary trailers, identical to Evie.
Kassandra can also be utterly absent from the sport’s field artwork, which options both Alexios or a protagonist with their gender intentionally obscured by armor and a Spartan helmet. As if that wasn’t sufficient, the statue that comes with among the larger tier editions of the sport additionally options, to nice shock, Alexios, slightly than Kassandra. What makes this probably extra egregious than Syndicate is that it was later confirmed by the official recreation novelization, and later experiences about Ubisoft, that Kassandra was the canon protagonist and initially supposed to be the one protagonist.
In a single sweeping blow, Ubisoft takes what’s arguably essentially the most feminist, equally consultant recreation they’ve accomplished and turned it on its head. Not are Alexios and Kassandra equal decisions meant for a large viewers. Now Kassandra will not be a powerful sufficient character to hold a recreation by herself, and Alexios is a strategy to pander to the misogynists who work at Ubisoft.
Nonetheless, the presence of Kassandra and the sharing of hers and Alexios’ animations confirms that they’re able to animate girls with out “double the work,” opposite to what Technical Director James Therien stated when followers spoke up a couple of lack of feminine participant characters in Unity in 2015. Although not a part of the current layoffs, Therien’s LinkedIn page confirms he’s not working at Ubisoft as of 2017. In hindsight, the late addition of Alexios to Odyssey exhibits they had been unwilling to place within the further work so as to add girls to Unity, not unable as they declare.
Whereas having the choice of Kassandra as a feminine protagonist is a step up from Evie’s hidden deuteragonist standing and a good distance from Lucy getting used as a device for Desmond, in some methods it’s nonetheless in the identical league. So long as these inventive decisions are motivated and hindered by misogyny, each the female and male characters within the sequence will fail to achieve their full potential.
Trying again on the Murderer’s Creed sequence, now realizing what was occurring behind the scenes of the event staff, the sample turns into even clearer than it was earlier than. It’s been apparent for some time that the sequence underrepresents girls, even whereas claiming to signify folks of all backgrounds. For the reason that first Murderer’s Creed, every recreation has had a discover at first of it saying the way it was created by “A multicultural staff of assorted spiritual faiths and beliefs.” Syndicate, along with shafting Evie, modified the message to, “A multicultural staff of assorted beliefs, sexual orientations and gender identities.”
Now these declarations really feel hole—and mocking. Ubisoft may have gotten rid of their biggest offenders, however that kind of a tradition can develop into entrenched in a inventive office atmosphere. They nonetheless have a protracted strategy to go in the direction of truly treating girls with respect, each actual and fictional. Whereas we in all probability will not see many modifications within the upcoming Valhalla, as it’s already very far into the event course of, we will stay up for the way forward for the franchise and see, hopefully, extra and higher girls’s illustration.