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On Assassin's Creed: Liberation & Female Protagonists

Aveline is pretty nifty.

Remember this gem? It was the creative director for Assassin's Creed III talking about why his game did not feature a female protagonist. Color me confused when I saw rumors over the weekend that there would be a PS Vita game featuring Aveline, a French black woman in New Orleans.

Assassin's Creed: Liberation, as Wootini covered during the Sony Press Conference, is coming this October, also bundled with a new Crystal White version of the handheld. As someone who has never really considered a bundle, I will admit to actually being tempted (beyond the fact that I don't really want white consoles)! For me, it's more of an issue of support: yes, I want to support more things like this. Particularly since I looked at her outfit and instantly not only didn't feel like I was supposed to be a lecherous straight guy to enjoy it, but liked it much more than her counterpart Connor's outfit.

Of course, we don't know a lot of actual information as yet, so it's hard to gauge what exactly is going on in this realm.

So the questions I am left asking, and that I see echoed around in various corners of discussion, is why is this on the Vita? Is it meant to be a system seller? I know a handful of people now interested in picking up either this bundle or a Vita sooner. Yet this is purely anecdotal, and I am not entirely sure on the business predictions of such a decision.

Or, more cynically, is this an attempt to put out a bone to people asking for a female protagonist, and if it underperforms, being able to point out that they gave us a black female protagonist, and things didn't sell? It's really difficult to gauge, considering Ubisoft does not seem to have had a unified message prior to this. Considering its proposed release date of the end of October, and the fact that it has been 'build from the ground up,' it has to have been in development for a while.

Therefore, I am confused, excited, and not entirely sure what to expect until more information gets released over the course of the next few months. Would I consider purchasing a Vita for this? Yes. On the other hand, I already had plans to purchase on in the future.

Then again, this was perhaps the most interesting tidbit from Sony's press conference concerning the Vita, considering it seemed a full-fledged game, and not just a wholesale tie-in to the main product (which this still is, either some major deviations). Which means the more I type and process this information, the more I hope my cynical side is not the winner in this debate, because Aveline and Connor both potentially serve as interesting protagonists.

After all, it is very difficult not to see some manner of statement being made when the two protagonists for your games set during the American Revolution are not white. Potentially, there is an entirely different perspective to teach, particularly for people in the United States who know many of the more common stories and white figures in their country's fight for independence. They are both given agency through power structures that have been codified and struggled in the same empires that are seeking to subjugate and control them now. In fact, given the U.S.'s history for African and Native Americans, Connor and Aveline's fights for independence will have a bitter note to them.

4 Comments

Limeade said:

I think Aveline's design is amazing and awesome. An actual black (or mixed race) lady character as the *main* protagonist of a game? This is something unheard of in games (Rochelle and Purna are part of ensembles without any real story or depth), and I want so much for this to be on consoles and have a bigger audience and release than it will on the Vita.

I am considering a purchase of Aveline's Vita purely to support games like this, with such lady protagonists. At the same time, I am not a handheld gamer... and it's quite a pretty penny just for this. Hard place to be in.

Mercurywater said:

I will buy a Vita just to support this game...don't know how though. Sell a kidney? Hell I'll buy the damn game and stare at it just to support this fully clothed strong black french female protag (who is very beautiful as well.)

Frank F said:

The game looks cool. I won't be playing AC3 on PS3 so any tie-in with the main game will be lost for me. It's a very tempting bundle and I would consider buying it if I wasn't aleady panning to buy a Wii U if it comes out in October. Although that white Vita would match my iPad and iPhone....which is a selling point for me.

g_whiz said:

I've got a lot of gamer friends (of a progressive bent) on tumblr that have said the same...and I'm thinking I may follow suit. Not only due to rarity of the idea that Women of Color be included in any capacity in video game narratives but because this sort of "deviation" from the realm of mostly white-mostly straight dude focal point in gaming needs to be encouraged.

I can only hope she'll have a role to play in the story of AC 3.

And girls who like girls who like rumble packs!

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