Breathing fresh air into the Assassin’s Creed series is what Ubisoft needs to do to keep the series original, because eventually, sticking yet more daggers into the backs of even more Loyalist Lobsters is going to grate on us. That’s likely the reason why they’ve recently put out a survey asking players for their thoughts. But this isn’t your average run of the mill ‘did getting blasted to smithereens by a Man O’ War in Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag make you cry like a wimp or spur you on?’ as Ubi’s suggested changes could be completely mind blowing or utterly disastrous for the series. Having taken the survey, I’ve rounded up the juiciest bits of info from it, which you can read about here.
Sometimes, you just want a change. You want fresh, new, original takes on genres that you love while the publisher wants reskinned sequels like a plucked chicken with a coat on. But we’ve had 7 whole years of that and the time is now to throw the system out the window attached to a giant lead balloon, and Sony’s upcoming PS4, could be the very console to start that revolution.
Those ruddy feminists love to muck things up don’t they? They storm in with their man-hating ideals and feminine wiles muttering about how ‘every gender deserves to be equal’ and other nonsensical claims such as ‘women should be allowed the right to vote’. Oh, what’s that you say, women have been voting and wearing trousers and putting their children into daycare to swan off and get jobs for some time now? Well I’ll be damned.
But of course for as long as those feminists have come along to level the playing field (I, including myself in that category of equal rights hooligans, also known as the Daily Mail’s favourite bogeyman) people are still far too quick to chalk down the sudden surge of ‘women in games’ discussion as another en-Vogue response to the PC vitriol that those darned feminist hippies have been spouting. And, while I could invite naysayers to the kumbaya, feminist peace picnic, that’s not taking place until next week, so for those who’ve stumbled across this post before then, I present to you, 11 responses to the common ‘women in games’ arguments.
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First of all I would like to say that character limits are a swine, as provided I’d had enough room, that headline would read “Serial Misogynist and Known Woman Beater Michael Fassbender to Work on the Assassin’s Creed Movie”, because I feel like that might be the only thing attention-grabbing enough for people to click through and find out exactly why no one should be doing this really quite horrible person any favours. To re-tread the story, for those of you who don’t stalk my Twitter page religiously (i.e most of you), hotshot actor guy Michael Fassbender is now on board to co-produce and star in the film, with Jean-Julien Baronnet, CEO of Ubisoft Motion Pictures, even going as far as to say that Fassbender was their “first choice” of actors when it came to choosing who would play said lead assassin in the movie. If you don’t know who Michael Fassbender is, he has been in such films as Inglorious Basterds, X:Men First Class and he also featured as David the Android in the huge sci-fi hit that was Ridley Scott’s Prometheus.
Now, lets ignore the fact that Fassbender is German-Irish, fair-skinned and light-haired (and therefore not really fitting the part to play a Mediterranean/relatively ethnic dark-haired assassin-type), he is obviously a talented actor and while it is perhaps some shoddy casting on Ubi’s part, with a lot of tanning and some effective hair-dyeing, he might be able to pull off the acting side of things . But no, my issue is that Michael Fassbender is just generally the worst and that Ubisoft are doing a disservice to every single one of us by working with this human being. To put it into better terms : Michael Fassbender is the grossest. Gross things should be measured on a scale of “non-solid fecal matter” to “Michael Fassbender”. My distaste is supported with reasoning too. Let me take you back to 2009. Sunawin “Leasi” Andrews, gets back together with ex-boyfriend Michael Fassbender. Michael, who obviously takes his craft very seriously, goes to a film festival and comes back blind drunk, so drunk that he wakes up in a puddle of his own piss. His reaction? Unlike most people, who would clean themselves off, change the bed and sober up, he decides to beat his girlfriend, throw her over a chair and break her nose.
That’s not just me over-exaggerating either, the actual quote from Sunawin’s filing for a restraining order says such – “threw me over a chair breaking my nose” – which comes from what she sent to the LA County Superior Court back in June ‘09 when this all happened. At the time, Andrews’ said that this filing was to protect herself and her two young children (yes, Mr. Fassbender is this classy of an act when there are children involved who could be potentially affected by all of this) and that she asked for $20,000 to pay for medical bills, because obviously, repairing the damages that come from being beaten by a 6 foot 2, 185 pound man (though he potentially could have had more muscle mass then – this was around the time of his role as a British Lieutenant in Inglorious Basterds) doesn’t come cheap. Oh, and it gets worse, if you could even imagine. This wasn’t even the first time that Fassbender had released his inner woman-beater on his then-girlfriend either. The same filing at the LA County Superior Court referred to another occasion, in which Sunawin and Michael became embroiled in a heated argument about an ex-boyfriend of hers – “Michael allegedly dragged her alongside their car one night after they had an argument about one of her ex-boyfriends … causing her to twist her left ankle, blow out her left knee cap and burst an ovarian cyst”.
More upstanding behaviour from him, right? Of course I am positive that someone will be willing to point out that this is “alleged”, as the above quote states but according to statistics – over one quarter of all domestic abuse cases go unreported – those who do get close to going through with the prosecution, like Sunawin Andrews, often retract their statements for the sole reason that many of these women are deeply bonded with the person, and don’t want to see them locked up, because they are quite literally willing to accept more beatings provide that person doesn’t leave them. This isn’t unheard of, emotions are tricky. On the other hand, when you’re a woman in this position, shit is scary – you know and I know full well that a night in a jail cell won’t make any budding woman-beater come to their senses, and when they’re released, they will still have working fists, working legs and a working brain full of poisonous, angry thoughts with which to maim, beat and eviscerate you. It’s not a situation that anyone should take lightly.
Fassbender proved his worth again (and I promise I will get to my point eventually) back in 2011 when filming “A Dangerous Method” with Keira Knightley in which they had to film a particularly intimate ‘erotic’ scene in which his character has to spank her. Like most people would placed in such a situation, Knightley was super uncomfortable with the filming of the scene, which requires her to be tied to a bedframe. During filming, she commented “I’ve got a security guard outside. You touch me and he’s gonna break your legs!”,Michael’s reply to this? “Keira, you’re tied to a bed. You’re not really in a position to say that.” Rape is never funny and for whatever reason, Fassbender doesn’t get this. Rape is a very real thing that you wouldn’t wish to happen to anybody and nobody out there has the right to get a laugh out of it or even suggest that being in a vulnerable position means that you’re ‘free’ game’, as it were, for rapists (or, in this case, that being tied up means that bodyguard or not, they could still have their way with you if they feel like it.) After all of this, for Ubisoft to enlist Michael Fassbender to work on the Assassin’s Creed film is simply ludicrous. It’s completely nutso bananas to let this guy represent this franchise. In fact, it’s crazy to let him represent anything. He is in no way, shape or form someone who should be involved in this when the assassins of the Assassin’s Creed games pride themselves on the liberation of people, on freedom, on equality. The women of the Assassin’s Order (as well as those who aid the assassins) are treated with respect and are held in such high regard as the men. There’s even a female-fronted Assassin’s Creed game in the works from the franchise’s developer in the form of PS Vita title Assassin’s Creed 3 Liberation, so there’s no doubt in my mind that Ubisoft know how to get it right and that this is just an incredibly large slip up from them on the path to treating women/female gamers the same as the men. And of course, I’m not brushing over the fact that even outside of the ideals of the Assassin’s Creed games, his actions are shady and disgusting, there really is no place for what he’s done in society. It’s just plain unacceptable.
Their decision cuts everyone even deeper when you look at the gaming industry as whole where misogyny is alive and well – just last week, Anita Sarkeesian received a massive backlash to her attempt to crowdfund a video series that took on misogyny in this industry, it resulted in a Fassbender-league jerkhole by the name of Ben Spurr going as far as to make a delightful little game called “Beat Up Anita Sarkeesian” which allowed you to do just that, getting TOTAL LULZ!!!!11! out of domestic violence if this woman had pissed you off so much with her attempt at helping equality . (Read about it here on HuffPo.) Evidently we most certainly do not need anyone else coming in and sullying our good name, we’re perfectly capable of hating on women ourselves, apparently. In all, this decision says that rape jokes are A-OK, domestic violence is a common and acceptable occurrence and that gross people with unhealthy opinion (see : Ben, Michael, people who agree with them) should be put on a pedestal. That’s not the case and these are the sorts of people whose actions should be frowned upon. I already know that this post will result in a few ruffled feathers and plenty of angry comments but if you agree with anything I’ve said, please spread this around via Twitter, Facebook or [insert social media of choice] to open some eyes and ears to what’s going on, thank you. (And you can click here to subscribe to JSX).
DISCLAIMER: This post was written several years ago when I had far less journalistic experience than I do now. I’m done with defending the piece and I’m done with defending myself because this post was wrong in the first place. I no longer stand by many of the things that I said in it (the opinion that Fassbender is the wrong person for the Assassin’s Creed job stands – but that’s because I don’t see him as any of the AC protagonists and for no other reason!) and in reality my previous statements were based off of evidence that either didn’t or couldn’t paint an entire picture of the opinions that I was stating. This disclaimer isn’t being posted because of the backlash that it’s gotten but because there are some real actual criticisms that I, two years after writing this, can no longer argue against. In short: the people who have commented so far are right in many ways and there are too many holes in the evidence (as many of you have pointed out so I won’t rehash here) for me to portray it as concrete as I admittedly did. The site isn’t a gossip blog and nowadays J Station X deals with cold, hard statistics that can be picked apart – opinions still matter but not like this. This article was poor, shoddy journalism and I’m leaving it up as a testament and a promise to do better. There’s a strong likelihood that I’ll delete the post in the future but for now all I can do is offer an apology for being so naiive and foolish to publish this article in the first place.
Rather than waxing lyrical as to why Assassin’s Creed 3 Liberation is a more-than-worthy addition to the Assassin’s Creed franchise, following in the stabby footsteps of Ezio and Altair who came before him, let’s just talk about the fact that the inclusion of a female assassin in Ubisoft’s leading series is really cool, shall we?
As a woman, I’m absolutely delighted that finally, a leading game character of a leading game franchise is a badass woman, showing everyone that we are just as capable of carrying a game franchise as our male cohorts. On the other hand, as a critic of video games, I feel that Ubisoft’s decision to make the protagonist of Assassin’s Creed 3 Liberation a woman is just as fantastic because it means that the conversation on women in games doesn’t have to be dominated by talk of the entirely ridiculous (and completely unrealistic) cup size that lady adventurer Lara Croft has been sporting for the past few Tomb Raider titles. No, instead we can all rejoice in the fact that a top video game developer has finally realised that a woman with a vengeance is just as lethal as a man with a vengeance and boy, oh boy, will she vent that anger.
And I know that plenty of people have criticised Ubisoft for the decision to star Aveline as the lead in Assassin’s Creed 3 Liberation because it’s a handheld title on a console (the PlayStation Vita) that has yet to come into its own and frankly, I think that’s wrong. While I don’t think Aveline is a representation of me or any of the brilliant ladies I know, I think this because Aveline is fearless and brave and we are (for the most part) awkward and cowardly. But despite this, it’s terrific that Ubisoft understand that there is a woman out there (less inept than I) who is capable of embodying the role of a stone cold killer, regardless of the stage that she’s killing on. The fact that she’s in the spotlight at all is a huge step forward for the industry.
In turn, people have also been heckling Ubi for Assassin’s Creed 3 Liberation because ‘women can’t be assassins, the protagonist should be a man!’, well, I tell those people to shush. This isn’t a case of ‘women deserve to star as the lead!’ (okay, it sort of is) but it’s a case for thought out and engaging protagonists too. Ubisoft cannot regress to the shaven-head, muscleman, hunky athletic archetype that so many male leads fall into, instead they have to really think about the character that Aveline is because this woman just wouldn’t fit that meathead soldier role – not down to her womanhood, just for the fact that it wouldn’t make any sense.
Just like Dead Space did for IPs, hopefully Aveline will lead the way for better written characters, eschewing stereotypes and pre-conceived ideals that the marketing teams of publishing houses think we want and will rather use their smarts to lovingly carve more characters that we will actually care a toss about after the credits roll.
And with that, I present to you the Assassin’s Creed 3 Liberation E3 reveal trailer.
The Assassin’s Creed 3 Liberation release date is October 30th. – Click here to pre-order it.
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