I Was Born An Assassin: On Minorities, Agency, and Legitimacy in Video Games

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4 Responses

  1. Emily says:

    As someone who didn’t really play any of the Assassin’s Creed series except 4 hours of the first one, I was super excited for ACIII based on the Connor story alone. Being Cherokee and interested in NA representations in games, well, let’s just say that ACIII was research gold. I could not wait to see what Ubisoft had done with this narrative, and like you, I was super optimistic and hopeful. And I still am.

    I had the same reaction as you–Haythem? Really? Who is this guy, why am I not in the colonies, and why am I not jumping from tree to tree?? Even assuming that he was Connor’s father, I wasn’t that engaged. To put it in context, I couldn’t even remember my character’s name other than “The guy who is not Connor and has a British accent.” But that was my motivation–I pushed through. I wanted to be Connor. And, finally, I made it. And I think it might change your perspective a bit…it certainly changed mine.

    Without spoilers, I’m just gonna say–push through. I think there are still issues to be dealt with especially given the whole Assassin bloodlines connections, the idea of a tainted heritage, and the role of othered characters. But I’m very curious to see what your take on it will be after you make it to Connor. Then, the questions shift to asking if the backstory of Connor’s father really necessary (historically, ethnically, politically) for us to play through for a good chunk of the game or is it needed to help break/reinforce narratives to make this palpable (especially) for an American audience.

    I’m still on the fence on some issues, but I really think that the fact these games can even usher in these discussions in intelligent ways is better than what has been done in the past in regards to both race and gender (which comes up in fantastically in Connor’s story, by the way, especially the subtle representation of matrilineal cultures).

    So I say, keep playing Sam! I can’t wait to see what you think when you get to Connor (again, FINALLY)–great stuff and keep posting! If anything, we can say this game at least does something.

  2. dr. b. says:

    Hey Em, thanks for sharing. I am definitely going to be pushing through for a bit. My next post is shaping up to be a mix of ACIII and Liberation and dealing with the treatment of women of color. There’s a teaser for you. Now I just want you to promise to come back and continue this conversation with me!

  3. Shauna says:

    I’m going to assume you finished by now (or have gotten well into the game). Haytham wasn’t even 1/4th of the game play, and the first three sequences were for Desmond’s benefit in order to give him a more informed opinion for his choice at the end and for the player to have more intimate knowledge of Haytham when Connor finally meets him again.

    Haytham represents the intimacy of white supremacy in Connor’s story, whereas the war shows how white supremacy affects larger populations. Achille’s, too, echoes that it’s better to be thought of a “dirty” white man such as a Spaniard or an Italian than to be seen as a person of color. Connor spends pretty much his entire time from when he’s introduced (holding a book, which is a symbol of white culture) until his the last sequence fighting with being true to his heritage or bowing to systematic oppression of native people by white men of power. As I like to say, Connor’s storyline is basically him going, “WHITE PEOPLE NEED TO STOP FUCKING SHIT UP.” Because that is literally all that the non-side mission NPCs do. They fuck shit up and Connor has to fix it because he gets shit done.

  4. dr. b. says:

    Unfortunately I haven’t finished the game yet. At the end of the semester it usually takes me about a month to finish big games like this, but I am working through. I have worked through the second 3 sequences+ and Achilles is very much in the picture. I am actually working on a post about what this section says about race and identity politics in the colonies (and in the US period). I understand why the Haytham sequences were there, what I don’t like is the message that it sends. It could have been done in a different way that didn’t make it seem so authenticating.

    I’ll write more about Achilles (and the purpose that he serves in my post so that I don’t have a 3000 word comment) but I can appreciate him as a character. I’m also not so sure that I like Connor so much for the character that he is as for what he learns and what he does with that information.