Thursday, March 29, 2012

A HIStory of Men...

Yesterday, I saw an interview with creative director Alex Hutchinson explaining how a female protagonist just wasn't feasible for Assassin's Creed III's setting:
"It's always up in the air," Hutchinson said. "I think lots of people want it, [but] in this period it's been a bit of a pain. The history of the American Revolution is the history of men."
Maybe he just couldn't think of any women. With that in mind, I thought I'd help come up with a few ideas for games starring prominent women throughout history:

But all kidding aside, people who agree with Hutchinson argue that women didn't play as much of a role in certain historical events. I take issue with that only because they don't seem to consider the idea that women's roles are not what gets written in history books or taught in schools.

Regardless of your opinion on what and how important women's roles were during certain events (we could probably argue about that all day), I simply ask... WHY NOT? Why not make one up for a game? Wouldn't that just be cool?

(Velvet Assassin, which, if nothing else, had an intriguing lady protagonist inspired by real life.)
I found this quote from Hutchinson the most problematic:
"It felt like, if you had all these men in every scene and you're secretly, stealthily in crowds of dudes [as a female assassin], it starts to feel kind of wrong," he said. "People would stop believing it."
I have to disagree with this for a couple of reasons:
  • For me, not having to deal with true-to-life realism in games is exactly one of the reasons why I play video games. And sorry, Assassin's Creed lost the realism factor for me at the part where I get hooked to a virtual-reality machine that reads my genetics and allows me to control the memories of my ancestors in a 3D space. What I'm saying is, just because it might not seem totally realistic or believable, obviously doesn't mean the idea wouldn't be cool or fun; thus, realism is a terrible reason for why women aren't protagonists in games. And, no offense, but I really hope that people aren't learning world history from Assassin's Creed games.
  • Do people not like playing female protagonists? I beg to differ with all the love for Mass Effect's FemShep. And how many guys play female avatars in other games? I doubt having a female protagonist would hurt sales of Assassin's Creed. (For more on this topic, I refer you to this great article over at The Mary Sue titled, "Why Some Men Are Playing Women, and Why Developers Should Take Note.")
  • And again, if it's the historical factor where "the history of the American Revolution is the history of men," I would say it doesn't have to be. Want stealthy ladies? There were women spies during the Civil War, and women who dressed up as soldiers to fight in the Civil War and the Revolutionary War.
My overall point is, if you don't want to have a woman as a protagonist in Assassin's Creed, I just don't see historical accuracy or realism as a valid excuse.


personamatters said...

Those excuses sound especially weird coming from someone working with Assassin's Creed. Not that the excuses suit other games any better, but they fit the Assassin's Creed games even less.

With it's multiple plotlines, various protagonists and identity-blending ancestor-controlling technological gadgets, the Assassin's Creed games are in a perfect position to support protagonists of various genders, ethnicities and backgrounds.

They can come up with neat diegetic explanations for health bars, saving, character deaths and level ups in a "historical" setting, but a woman as a protagonist would be pushing it too far? Boo! :(

Mouse said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Hutchinson is being sensible and you're being childish.
Just accept that girl power doesn't exist in every nook and cranny in the time line of the human race.
Women have been out of oppression for over a hundred years, you've been getting the same education as men yet you still haven't invented anything revolutionary! Woman are even getting better test, amazing, hurry up and do something with it already!

Quick examples: blogs, internet, iphone, wifi? Male inventions. Why don't you strive to prove that you can do better than man, earn your place in the history books instead of trying to sneak into a video game with a big fat lie.

Instead of trying to do better than man, you spend all your time analyzing men, pointing out their faults making out you have a better view. It's pathetic.

Man evolved from Woman, obvious in our genetics. You are the byproduct left behind to help man evolve to the next level. That's the only reason you exist. You didn't evolve from man, you don't have a penis, muscles, intelligence, raw strength, courage, and inspiration to do things for mankind, you work because you love your paycheck, so you can spend money.
All men can be women (we can devolve). But no woman can ever be a man.