Holy fuck. This is making me so angry it hurts.
As the comment above shows (there are many more, just look around the internet for yourself), there’s a lot of outrage from fans about the sentiment that women cannot take part in a historical fiction where all sorts of wacky shit is happening. If there is anything we as gamers and game makers need to keep at the front of games it is that women are now part of and active in the realm of video games. Sure some people would like to write off female gamers and girls just looking for attention, but those people are behind. There’s a lot of great voices out there (Extra Credits comes to mind) that will give you the reasons gaming cannot belittle or exclude women any longer. The case of Assassin’s Creed III gives me pause, not only because of this statement and the support it received. Knowing that a Native American will now be the focal point of another Western entertainment venture makes me excited and afraid of the results. They’ve already asserted that Connor will be a more spiritual and naturalistic character, a stereotype that pervades a white perspective on the past. It’s a way of admiring a group of people many assume are extinct. “Wasn’t it so cool how the Native Americans were so spiritual and close to nature?” It certainly sounds better than, “Weren’t those natives savage barbarians?” But I worry that putting an American Indian at the front of a story like this (one so centered on the battle for freedoms and rights that Indians would not enjoy for many years) will draw new cultural attention to the image of the “noble savage” and bolster that image in negative ways. What Europeans did to the American Indians was monstrous. The natives had their own civilization, their own way of life so different (not better or worse) from the invaders it might have been inevitable that their was violence. But depending on how Assassin’s Creed III allows us to engage to role of the American Indian during a time of civil change and ideological progress in a western context, there could be some new discussions for gaming to address. One of these discussions is related to issues surrounding WWII games or the infamous “Six Days in Fellujah” game set in the Iraq war. It asks gamers what the role of games are as we record and remember historical and present day events. I’ve dealt with this on my own before, trying to work out the morality of reenacting D-Day or using real-life weapons to shoot at pixelated soldiers. I’m still not sure what it means, but that won’t keep me from trying to work out the role of these game experiences. -Slamm