Poll: Jim Sterling Calls Out New Assassin's Creed (for racism/sexism?)

Jan 12, 2012
2,114
0
0
So the new Assassin's Creed is announced, and our resident ex-Destructoid host has already taken the first shots.

Now, I will give him a bit of credit; the game footage I've seen does have 4 similar-looking men, at least in build. However, they are all assassins with the same lean body type, all wearing hoods and coats, and -most importantly- all presumably Frenchmen in the 1790's. The people are going to look much the same if they want to keep even a veneer of historical accuracy (at least in terms of race; AFAIK, at this time France was still supporting the slave trade and there were very few free non-white people running around Paris).

This criticism seems really out of line to me, especially when the games so far have starred(in order) an Arab, an Italian, and a Métis man (with a white guy interlaced throughout), as well as a French/African woman in ACL and an Englishman (EDIT: Sorry, Welsh) in AC4. Meanwhile, the regular multiplayer generally has a pretty diverse cast. I've got no problem with the preview of the game only showing a single character model for the 4-player game, because I'm certain that's not going to stay. What do you think: Is Jim overreacting to a perceived slight, or is it a valid criticism?

Edit: Thank you to those people who found a decent picture of the 4 guys; I'll put it here for easy reference.
I see a lot of people are saying that Jim was making a joke. I can see that interpretation, but it's not the first time Sterling has talked about sexism and racism in games. On first glance, I couldn't tell if it was meant to be a joke for humour's sake, or a snide comment about a real issue. It might be the limits of the medium, but given his history I felt more inclined to the latter interpretation.

[HEADING=3]IMPORTANT EDIT[/HEADING]
EDIT 2: I found a black guy! It took some looking, but I eventually turned up Jean-Baptiste Belley, a black Haitian who spoke at the Convention, alongside the mulatto Jean-Baptiste Mills and Louis-Pierre Dufaÿ, a European. This is the first confirmed person of colour I've found who was in France at the time, although he went back to Haiti soon afterwards (Not counting Thomas-Alexandre Dumas, who if anything would show up as an NPC). Are there more? Almost certainly; this journal article says that between 4000 and 5000 black people entered and left the country throughout the century (0.025% of the population) but it doesn't have really concrete numbers. If anyone does have a JSTOR account and wants to read the whole piece and let me know what it says, I would be grateful. Does this mean that one of the characters should be black? I leave that in your hands.

Edit 3: Thanks to @mecegirl, I now have a third man for the list: Joseph Bologne, aka Chevalier De Saint Georges, aka the "Black Mozart". Some pretty wonderful music. Another potential NPC. He also was (according to Wikipedia) a champion fencer, and formed a regiment of coloured troops to defend the Revolutionary state.
 

tippy2k2

Beloved Tyrant
Legacy
Apr 3, 2020
14,155
1,169
118
I think you may be jumping to conclusions.

I could be wrong here (and maybe the Alpha and Omega himself will pop in here to clear it up since he graces us mere mortals with His presence every so often in the forum) but I think he's making a joke here. I don't think he's actually saying that the game/Ubisoft are a bunch of racists.
 

Commissar Sae

New member
Nov 13, 2009
983
0
0
Technically speaking, it would be historically accurate to potentially have at least a few Mulatto assassins over from Haiti, which was a French slave colony that entered open revolt around the same time. Heck, there were even a few free Haitians who came over to support the revolution, so there would be a solid excuse for at least a little racial diversity.

That said, this is still late 18th century France, the vast majority of people are French and generally pretty fair skinned. So while there were some free non-whites about, they were still a very small minority. So yeah, not too angry at the game, but ti would be nice to see some women assassins involved as well.
 

Aerosteam

Get out while you still can
Sep 22, 2011
4,267
0
0
I actually thought that was funny, which indicates it was a joke. Nothing to get serious about, just move on. I'm not sure how to answer the poll now. Justified? Wuh?
 

Zak757

New member
Oct 12, 2013
227
0
0
To be fair, they really ARE identical.



They are all a bunch of white dudes with stubble and trimmed mustaches making the same facial expression. The only significant difference is the hood color (well 2 of them are the same), which doesn't really earn you any originality points. You don't get much less creative or diverse with your character design than that. I don't know if this is an issue of race or sex, but it certainly is creatively bankrupt for a game with "unity" right in the title.
 

Lilani

Sometimes known as CaitieLou
May 27, 2009
6,581
0
0
Zak757 said:
To be fair, they really ARE identical.



They are all a bunch of white dudes with stubble and trimmed mustaches making the same facial expression. The only significant difference is the hood color, which doesn't really earn you any originality points. You don't get much less creative or diverse with your character design than that. I don't know if this is an issue of race or sex, but it certainly is creatively bankrupt for a game with "unity" right in the title.
Yeah, if I didn't know any better, I'd look at that and wonder if perhaps they were doing a game where you play as one character but in four different situations or realities, and each of these is representing the four scenarios. I mean Jesus, people whine about how perfect diversity in a group is unrealistic, but if you ask me a group of guys who have this much in common is even more unrealistic, unless they're brothers. Same height, same race, same sex, same build, nearly the same facial hair...I wonder if this was less about sticking with demographics and more about Ubisoft wanting to save on making new character models and rigging.
 

42

Australian Justice
Jan 30, 2010
697
0
0
Just a casual reminder that the game is made up of a team of people from DIFFERENT cultural backgrounds, i mean its not something they drum into you every time you boot up the game. Oh wait.
 

latenightapplepie

New member
Nov 9, 2008
3,086
0
0
I don't see this as Sterling calling out the game for being sexist or racist, moreso for it being boring and unoriginal with character. Big difference.
 

mecegirl

New member
May 19, 2013
737
0
0
One of his old Destructoid buddies, Anthony Burch, made a similar tweet.



But really, as Zak757 said. They do look really similar. The easiest addition would have been a woman. And women did fight during the revolution. The most notable action taken by women during the revolution was when thousands of them marched to Versailles with cannons in tow. Their actions forced the King to surrender Versailles.

But as Commissar Sae said Hatians (either full or half) weren't uncommon in France. And within metropolitan areas slavery wasn't allowed so they would have been free men. Alexander Dumas, the man who wrote the Three Musketeers, his father was biracial(half Haitian) and was a general during the Revolutionary wars.

If anything the lack of diversity is a signal of laziness instead of bigotry. It is a lot easier to just render four identical dudes and just change the cloak color. But it is always a shame when a game could easily have diversity but fails to be inclusive.
 

NuclearKangaroo

New member
Feb 7, 2014
1,919
0
0
the comment was uncalled for i think, you make a good point, Assasin's Creed has had a nice and diverse cast of charatcers so far, not like all games franchises should be forced to have a diverse character cast just because
 

sXeth

Elite Member
Legacy
Apr 3, 2020
2,747
227
68
There's a certain level of setting dictation there, though they could certainly be more distinctive even for four french dudes of the era. It was probably a joke at the lack of differentiation moreso then social commentary though.
 

Not G. Ivingname

New member
Nov 18, 2009
6,368
0
0
mecegirl said:
One of his old Destructoid buddies, Anthony Burch, made a similar tweet.



But really, as Zak757 said. They do look really similar. The easiest addition would have been a woman. And women did fight during the revolution. The most notable action taken by women during the revolution was when thousands of them marched to Versailles with cannons in tow. Their actions forced the King to surrender Versailles.

But as Commissar Sae said Hatians (either full or half) weren't uncommon in France. And within metropolitan areas slavery wasn't allowed so they would have been free men. Alexander Dumas, the man who wrote the Three Musketeers, his father was biracial(half Haitian) and was a general during the Revolutionary wars.

If anything the lack of diversity is a signal of laziness instead of bigotry. It is a lot easier to just render four identical dudes and just change the cloak color. But it is always a shame when a game could easily have diversity but fails to be inclusive.
Even is statistically, it wasn't as likely as a group of four being all white, having diversity of gender and race makes sense for a design perspective. At a glance, with multiple characters, one should be able to instantly tell the difference between who I am playing. Since they all need to be wearing hoods, differences in body shape and coloring means that, just at a glance, I can tell "I'm playing the one better at jumping," or "this one is better with guns." Having different colored coats doesn't really give us enough instant visual difference, particularly since three of them have a fairly similar color.

Think back to Mario 2. Mario, Luigi, Peach, and Toad. All had different heights, all looked radically different, all were colored radically different.
 

rbstewart7263

New member
Nov 2, 2010
1,246
0
0
Lilani said:
Zak757 said:
To be fair, they really ARE identical.



They are all a bunch of white dudes with stubble and trimmed mustaches making the same facial expression. The only significant difference is the hood color, which doesn't really earn you any originality points. You don't get much less creative or diverse with your character design than that. I don't know if this is an issue of race or sex, but it certainly is creatively bankrupt for a game with "unity" right in the title.
Yeah, if I didn't know any better, I'd look at that and wonder if perhaps they were doing a game where you play as one character but in four different situations or realities, and each of these is representing the four scenarios. I mean Jesus, people whine about how perfect diversity in a group is unrealistic, but if you ask me a group of guys who have this much in common is even more unrealistic, unless they're brothers. Same height, same race, same sex, same build, nearly the same facial hair...I wonder if this was less about sticking with demographics and more about Ubisoft wanting to save on making new character models and rigging.
Assassins creed is the place for historical fantasy. Where we get to see a black man be a badass pirate assassin whereas in realty pirates didnt really care for there darker skinned brothers all that much at least according to our resident critical intel. I wonder if its cause there all siblings? But I agree we could do for a mulatto or a maroon or somethin but I could just be bein nitpicky. The plot could simply demand 4 white guys......shrug
 

rbstewart7263

New member
Nov 2, 2010
1,246
0
0
Not G. Ivingname said:
mecegirl said:
One of his old Destructoid buddies, Anthony Burch, made a similar tweet.



But really, as Zak757 said. They do look really similar. The easiest addition would have been a woman. And women did fight during the revolution. The most notable action taken by women during the revolution was when thousands of them marched to Versailles with cannons in tow. Their actions forced the King to surrender Versailles.

But as Commissar Sae said Hatians (either full or half) weren't uncommon in France. And within metropolitan areas slavery wasn't allowed so they would have been free men. Alexander Dumas, the man who wrote the Three Musketeers, his father was biracial(half Haitian) and was a general during the Revolutionary wars.

If anything the lack of diversity is a signal of laziness instead of bigotry. It is a lot easier to just render four identical dudes and just change the cloak color. But it is always a shame when a game could easily have diversity but fails to be inclusive.
Even is statistically, it wasn't as likely as a group of four being all white, having diversity of gender and race makes sense for a design perspective. At a glance, with multiple characters, one should be able to instantly tell the difference between who I am playing. Since they all need to be wearing hoods, differences in body shape and coloring means that, just at a glance, I can tell "I'm playing the one better at jumping," or "this one is better with guns." Having different colored coats doesn't really give us enough instant visual difference, particularly since three of them have a fairly similar color.

Think back to Mario 2. Mario, Luigi, Peach, and Toad. All had different heights, all looked radically different, all were colored radically different.
Ill say right now that ubi could have done better. but! debate wise I dont think the realism card is the one for it. Today the black population in scotland is like 7%. Now I dont have census figures from the french revolution in front of me but im guessing that the answer would be a resounding cacophany of the word white! I mean nothing wrong with a country only having white people its a thing.

edit: realized that your saying the same thing sort of, I think? that first sentence really threw me off im not sure what your getting at?
 

The Lunatic

Princess
Jun 3, 2010
2,291
0
0
Well, if they made them even slightly different, they'd have to model separate assets for each character.


That might require Ubisoft to spend more than the minimum amount of money possible to develop this game.
 

DirgeNovak

I'm anticipating DmC. Flame me.
Jul 23, 2008
1,645
0
0
I'm pretty sure it was just a joke. He's been on record several times saying he just doesn't give a shit about Assassin's Creed anymore. And they do look exactly the same.

Also he hasn't worked at Dtoid for over six months.