One of games’ biggest series faces a representation crisis.
The newest game in the multimillion-dollar Assassin’s Creed series, Unity, has some fascinating features: A painstakingly-recreated revolutionary Paris, bleeding-edge next-gen presentation, and for the first time in the series, four-user cooperative play.
One thing it does not have is the option to play as a woman.
Despite Ubisoft’s oft-cited commitment to diversity—something they conspicuously tout in writing at the beginning of every Assassin’s Creed game—the company axed the inclusion of playable female characters in their new game because of resource constraints, according to Ubisoft technical director James Therien in an interview with Videogamer.com:
“It was on our feature list until not too long ago, but it’s a question of focus and production,” Therien explained. “So we wanted to make sure we had the best experience for the character. A female character means that you have to redo a lot of animation, a lot of costumes [inaudible]. It would have doubled the work on those things. And I mean it’s something the team really wanted, but we had to make a decision… It’s unfortunate, but it’s a reality of game development.”
This “reality of game development” has been seized on by hundreds of angry gamers, game developers, and thinking human beings on Twitter, who are currently excoriating Ubisoft—the third largest games publisher in the world with nearly 10,000 employees—for the lack of female representation in what is perhaps their biggest series.
Women are hard to put in games because our chitinous exoskeletons refract light in ways that render us invisible to the naked eye. #ubisoft
.@Ubisoft, if you find it hard to come up with awesome women from history for Assassins Creed games then I'd be happy to email you a list
“We flew to Paris to model every single stone in the Notre Dame cathedral, but designing women is too much effort.” -Ubisoft, probably.
“Female bone structure is just different,” says Joe Ubisoft. “Are there spiders in there? We just don't know.”
Ubisoft, adding female characters is mostly expensive if it isn't in your original design & you blasted all your resources on male stuff 1st
In the Assassin’s Creed games, Ubisoft is committed to making believable alternate histories for gamers to explore. It sounds like a lot of people don’t want anything to do with this one.