Sarah Leboeuf for The Escapist reported last week on Ubisoft’s announcement that they had planned until recently to have a female playable assassin in Assassin’s Creed: Unity, but according to technical director James Therien, they canned her because:
“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.”
This is an absurd statement from the Ubisoft representative. Once again, the press is calling out dev b.s., and that’s excellent. To quote Leboeuf:
“But let’s pretend for a second that the “it’s too hard” excuse wasn’t total bullshit. So what? That’s your problem, publishers; it’s time to do your jobs. Include women characters in your budget. Allocate resources to bring these characters to life. Just make it happen. By saying it’s too much work to put women in games, what you’re actually saying is women aren’t worth the effort, and that feels really, really shitty.”
Shitty. I wouldn’t normally use this word, especially with hyperbolic double adverbs before it, but maybe it’s le mot juste and worth a kitty signal boost.
For further reading, Robert Rath did a radically erudite supportive write-up on the historical case for a female French assassin. However, it seems more appropriate to focus on the case of why this really happened, which is always money.
Are female characters really still not saleable in video games? Supposedly Lara Croft barely pulled her weight in profit in the last Tomb Raider installment, but she made it eventually. It also bears noting that for games with a worldwide distribution, we are running into social mores that are far more traditional and male chauvinist than the U.S. and Europe gaming establishment.
Due to no female lead, I’ve never purchased an Assassin’s Creed game, but that just changed. I bought Assassin’s Creed: Liberation (the only installment offering a female protagonist, which quietly released this last January on PC and consoles via a sketchy PS Vita port) for 40% off today on Steam.
This is despite a disappointingly poor review from PC Gamer, in which the reviewer states:
Trouble is, donning alternative outfits just isn’t appealing. Who honestly wants to wear filthy rags or a frilly pink dress in an Assassin’s Creed game?
Fuck you, Ben Griffin. I do.
The above-mentioned Tomb Raider is also on sale today for a record low $4.99 on Steam, so if you haven’t yet, please take time to support female player characters in video games.