In today’s climate, if you give a Social Justice Warrior an inch of your cultural real estate, they’ll demand an acre. It’s become a depressingly comical axiom over the last six years, where we’ve seen franchise after franchise, brand after brand, succumb to the sinister succor of Social Justice Warriors only for them to keep demanding more, and more, and more. That’s exactly what happened recently where it was revealed during an AMA on Reddit with Ubisoft’s creative director on Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, Jonathan Dumount, that the canonical character of the game is Kassandra.
Dumount explained in the comment thread that Kassandra was the canon character in the novel, thus making her the canon character for this entry of the series, even though in the game you can choose to play as a male or female character…
“Yes there will be a canon represented in the novel. It features Kassandra and her journey. But in the game you decide your path , there is no right or wrong way.”
Even with this revelation added to their library of knowledge, it still wasn’t good enough for the folks at Rock, Paper, Shotgun.
In fact, Fraser Brown from Rock, Paper, Shotgun decided to continue to rail against white people and the promotion of the game featuring male deuteragonist of Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, Alexio.
“Jonathan Dumont told Reddit that it’s the former who is considered the canon protagonist, at least in the upcoming official novelisation. It won’t affect the game, however, as whoever you play as will be treated as the one, true hero.
“The game’s marketing, however, seems altogether Alexios-inclined…”
The article complains that so far the promotional and marketing material has themed itself around Alexios, and that some of the store exclusives for the collector’s editions feature an Alexios figurine on a plinth, which they claim isn’t available for Kassandra, writing…
“Kassandra statues are available, but they have to be bought separately – i.e. no version of the game comes bundled with a plaster recreation of its one true hero (as according to the book).”
This is false.
As pointed out by a user in the GG Discussion thread on Reddit, you can actually purchase a collector’s edition of Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey specifically called the “Kassandra Edition”, which is a GameStop exclusive for $149.99, and it comes with a figurine of Kassandra just like the other collector’s edition featuring Alexios.
The article goes on to say…
“It’s unremarkable, unfortunately, but the choice to display Alexios more prominently is especially disappointing at a time when misogynists are kicking off about women in ‘historical’ games, such as Battlefield V. God forbid some guy doesn’t get in the spotlight. Of course, nothing’s to stop you from visiting your local video game den and quietly flipping covers to ensure everyone knows who the game’s real hero is.”
Actually, Ubisoft has been putting out trailers featuring both Alexios and Kassandra.
The initial E3 debut trailer featured Alexios, but the extended gameplay demos featured Kassandra, as evident with the eight minute video below that was posted up on the Ubisoft North American YouTube channel during this year’s E3.
Of course, the Rock, Paper, Shotgun article is not only rife with inaccuracies about the availability of certain purchasable items and establishing the reputation of not fact-checking the promotional material that Ubisoft has put out, it also manages to persist with the publishing of urban myths and making racist comments, with Brown writing…
“Ubisoft’s come a long way from using animation difficulties to excuse the absence of playable female characters in Unity, though it’s not hard to raise the bar when you start at the bottom. It quickly changed its tune by letting you play as both Jacob and Evie in Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, and while Assassin’s Creed Origins (review) returned to a single, male protagonist, at least he wasn’t yet another boring white fella.”
The “boring white fella” comment even managed to rub Rock, Paper, Shotgun’s traditionally Left-leaning audience the wrong way, with various commenters calling them out on it.
Due to Rock, Paper, Shotgun’s inaccurate statement about the marketing material favoring Alexio, some users attempted to justify why that was while others tried to argue that marketing with a female lead could potentially increase sales for Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey. History, however, has already told us that when Ubisoft tried favoring a female for their marketing with Assassin’s Creed: Liberation and Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate, the games didn’t sell very well.
In fact, Ubisoft was coy about even talking about Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate sales until they released Assassin’s Creed: Origins, where they widely proclaimed Origins sold double what Syndicate did within the same time span.
Also, the reason Ubisoft didn’t throw in a half-done playable female in Assassin’s Creed: Unity is because the game was months out from shipping when journalists began pestering them about the option to play as a female. It wasn’t just “animation difficulties” preventing the feature from being added, it’s called shipping your game on time.
If your game is four months out from release you’re not going to take on the herculean task of adding in a potentially game-breaking feature just to appease activists posing as journalists. Heck, the game still launched broken and you could only play as one character!
While it’s possible Ubisoft could have taken a shortcut by adding a generic female model and swapped it with Arno the way modders do with some games, you run into the problem where she would still have Arno’s voice, rigging and animation set. So you end up with situations like this:
Since the multiplayer in Assassin’s Creed: Unity was literally just duplicates of Arno, it would mean they would have to design a separate character customizer and record all new audio for a female character, and then re-rig the model so that you don’t end up with the kind of clipping issues or vertex glitches you end up with like in the video above.
That’s not to mention that you need to test playable characters from top to bottom throughout the entire game so that it works as intended when it’s ready to ship and doesn’t create game-breaking bugs. Heck, Assassin’s Creed: Unity launched broke out of the box and stayed broke for six months thereafter, and that was just with one playable character!
Can you imagine what sort of monstrosity that game would have ended up as if they had tried to shoehorn in a playable female character at the twelfth hour?
Anyway, Rock, Paper, Shotgun taking a decidedly poignant political stance on the gendered play options and marketing while throwing a few falsehoods around didn’t entirely sit well with some of the other commenters on the site. A few of them ended up calling the author out on the antagonistic tone used in the article.
Of course, some people supported Rock, Paper, Shotgun and their push for more feminist propaganda in games, with a few people hoping that Ubisoft follows-through with how they’ve marketed Kassandra in the videos as a lesbian, and make her homosexual in the novel to canonize her sexuality.
Many other gamers are growing tired of the caustic sociopolitical battleground that gaming has turned into, especially regarding the genders and sexuality. And with companies like Facebook paying for social engineering programs like Women In Gaming to keep tensions high among gamers and between males and females, don’t expect the politics to let up anytime soon.
Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey is due for release on October 5th, 2018.