Assassin’s Creed and political correctness; tokenism vs escapism!
If people are familiar with Assassin’s creed franchise, lately they have been going on trying to sound politically correct. Their latest installment AC Valhalla is set-up in Vikings period and you play a character amongst Vikings. Newest thing is that you can choose your sexual orientation and gender in the game.
Now AC was trying to sell female leads from a long time but the very act seems quite ostentatious to me. Because historical accuracy being my prime concern.
In a subreddit, one of the comments said “homosexuals and people with other orientations always existed and the fact that we know only heterosexual part of the history is because of the hetero-wash or the heteronormativity and binary BS by sexist historians”
Although his point made sense to me, the question is not existence of the gayness in history. But the acceptance of it. Their last installment Odyssey features gay relationships too but it was Greece and it’s justifiable historically. In ancient Greece marriage was necessary for everyone but no fucks were given about extra-marital affairs or anyone they made love with. So I don’t see a point except that AC just wants to sound “woke” to sell their games to most of the people in the world.
But again, a new perspective to see this is the traditional view of games as “entertainment”. And entertainment in itself is nothing but escapism. If I was not heterosexual, I would most probably face a lot of discrimination and wherever I see, I find heterosexual romances as a “normative” mode of romance. So if I seek entertainment, i.e, escapism from this world. I’d personally love to play a gay or bisexual Viking. It’s an escape from reality for me and I’m in an alternative history which was erased by the sexist and homophobic historians where actually everything was “normal” and non-judgmental.
Assassin’s creed franchise is famous for its alternative history plotlines. We can see that they even wrote one for prominent modern historic figures such as Gandhi, Lenin, Stalin and many more. If one were to consider Assassin’s creed franchise for its primary essence, that is to let players play an alternative history of actual events that took place, it’s not consumer tokenism but mere escapism offered to all to choose their own roles to create their own histories. It has always been their essence.
But again, doesn’t this on whole again become consumer tokenism but made in a sly and sleek way to be applauded by people of either perspectives? Of course, jumping into haystacks from hundreds of meters isn’t historically accurate. But can Assassin’s creed maintain its identity as “a better history teacher” if they choose to induce modern day political correctiveness into history games? Or should they create politically correct, yet historically accurate oppressed characters like how cleverly Mafia III has a black lead and yet portrays the racism and discrimination, which still won applause? (Apart from the shitty gameplay!)
But again, is it fair for the marginalized groups to see the same discrimination again even in the games and “escapism” they choose? Either way in a capital-friendly world, consumer tokenism is what sells more and definitely that’s what selling more for AC too. Stripped off from all these perspectives, all that producers of any product would want is to see their product to selling more than their competitors. And with all these perspectives included, Ubisoft did manage to create their own way of selling games to more people but at the same time found their spot to hide from the allegations of pretention.