Can Americans Not Handle The Sight Of Their Ancestors Being Killed In Assassin's Creed?

From the very first day I saw the new Assassin's Creed, the top creative people involved with the game assured me that their game, set during the American Revolution, was not a rah-rah, jingoistic USA #1 kind of video game.

"[People were worried] that it's going to be rah-rah-Team America and flag-waving," the game's creative director, Alex Hutchinson told me this past summer. "It's not something we wanted to do and it's not the story we wanted to tell, anyway."

Since then, the game's publisher has shown several trailers, released batches of screenshots and even had the game's developers play different sections of their game, live throughout the week of E3, the year's annual showcase for the biggest video games.

Every time, in everything that's been shown, the half-British/half-Native-American hero Connor assassinates redcoats. Every time, he sheds not a drop of blood of the men in blue. He attacks no Colonists. He kills no Patriots. Why not? It seems that someone at Ubisoft has decided that gamer -- American gamers, presumably -- can't handle it.

"There's definitely a decision on the communication side to align you in the communications with America," Hutchinson said, presumably referring to decisions made in marketing or elsewhere outside of his development team. I pointed out that Kotaku readers (and this writer) repeatedly ask the simple question: How can you say your game isn't Team America but not be able to show a single scene of Connor, a supposed non-partisan in the American Revolution, from killing a single non-redcoat?

Shouldn't we believe our eyes which show a game that looks like it's all about killing the British who fought the people who would become the first Americans?

"As a team. we read that same coverage and we agree." Hutchinson said. "Yes, that's all you've seen. But the decision's gone to communicate on that angle. But we guarantee you that's not the game and we're going to be like...

He paused.

"That'll go away once you play the game. The only real evidence is: 'have the controller, have a copy of the game.'"

It's strange to think that someone at Ubisoft has decided this is where the line must be drawn. Stranger still, because the creative people on the game seem to be struggling to point out that what they're showing of the game isn't entirely accurate.

Here's ACIII producer Francois Pelland going out of his way during Ubisoft's press conference to emphasise that the enemy isn't really just the British and that we'll be fighting people "on both sides of the war."

But they only show Connor killing people on one side of the war.

Here's a scene from one of the game's E3 trailers. In it, Connor makes it clear to a Patriot that he cares only about killing Templars, the AC series' history-spanning legion of bad guys.

Connor says he doesn't pick sides. Again, every piece of footage shown from the game makes it appear that he does.

Hutchinson said that there is at least some justification for only showing Connor kill redcoats. "You need a recognisable group when you're doing tiny demos or trailers," he told me during an interview in May. "And we made the decision, early on, that when you're going to show 90 seconds of footage and you're killing someone who is not representative of anything, for the general audience, this is incredibly confusing. If you're telling a story that, 'Oh it's about the Revolution and then you suddenly you run past George Washington and hatchet a guy [who fights for Washington] in the head, are people to takeaway from that you're against the Americans? We felt that it was just too noisy to try and communicate that."

Pelland, sitting nearby, told me that they'd been discussing whether they could at least tell people about some of the non-redcoats who Connor kills, "but it's kind of giving the story away."

"It's not giving away the story," Hutchinson clarified, "it's giving away twists."

A few weeks ago, after seeing many readers of this site struggle to square what the development team has been saying about Connor's affiliations with what the footage of the game has shown, I asked a Ubisoft rep to simply share a single screenshot that shows Connor killing someone other than a redcoat.

They said they'd look into it.

That was before E3, before Pelland got on stage to make pains to assure people that Connor fights people on both sides. That was before E3, when not a single demo of ACIII showed Connor killing anyone other than a redcoat.

It has more than a whiff of condescension from the Ubisoft marketing team. It certainly feels like Ubisoft has simply decided Americans can't handle it. Is it because Ubi is French and the game is mainly being made in Canada? Can't Americans handle the sight of the hero of a potentially multi-million-selling blockbuster game killing their "founding fathers"? Americans can't tolerate that non-Americans are working on such a project?


Through multiple meetings with Hutchinson and Pelland over the last couple of months, it's been clear to me that the duo respects the reaction of sceptical gamers and recognises the dissonance between what is being said and what is being shown. Hutchinson sighs and tries to spot the silver lining: "When the biggest question [about the game] is: 'Are you only killing redcoats?', that's kind of a win," he said, before rattling off all the other things fans used to worry about regarding Assassin's Creed III.

"It's a first-world problem," he said.

Added Pelland: "And it's not the game."


    No, its this 'Americans are good, everyone else is bad' mentality that ruins every game it touches, either in the game itself or purely for its marketing.

    Apart from the first couple of call of duty's being amazing anyway, has anyone considered that It might also be the fact you could play British & Russian?

    And you're right, American's can't handle loosing. Ubisoft is doing the correct thing by marketing this game like that.

      That's an incredibly pretentious attitude that doesn't at all reflect reality. The only time I remember the issue of American-killing controversy being brought up is with the last MoH's playable Taliban, an ongoing conflict that was still being fought (and killed) over. So they get a pass there.

      There are plenty of games that allow you to kill Americans , just about every WWII title comes to mind, along with any open world game with NPC cops. Hell, the megafranchise CoD had you playing as British soldier killing Americans . If you want to get a bit closer to the Revolutionary War pop culture thing, then The Last of The Mohicans portrays the death of American colonists yet was very well received.

      Maybe you should stop watching South Park or Family Guy for a second, and realise that most Americans are no more sensitive or nationalistic than you are, before spouting such wildly misinformed and condescending nonsense. Ubisoft is just putting on the kid gloves and being politically correct, it's called prudent marketing. Also, this article was pure speculation.

        I think we can agree that while most Americans aren't jingoistic and oversensitive, there's definitely some, and they can get disproportional amounts of media attention.

          Actually there is a massive amount of people in the US who are stupidly jingoistic and over-sensitive. That is not a media exaggeration by any possible stretch.
          It doesn't take away from the fact that many are fantastic and tolerant, educated knowledgeable people and even many of those jingoists are great people, but that side of America does exist and it's very prominent and visible over there.

            Sure there are a massive amount of nutty teabaggers, but that's simply due to there being 300 million Americans with ostensibly two major parties. The Helen Lovejoys you're describing are simply a very vocal minority who out-shout the moderate majority, and it's ridiculous to make such blanket statements.

            Some of the most intelligent and compassionate people I've ever worked with are Americans, and they despise the Glenn Becks, Rick Santorums and Sarah Palins as much as we do. I still remember how much of a stink Pauline Hanson made on international news, and I had American and Canadian relatives calling to ask if Australia was full of racists.


            sadly the stupidly jingoistic and media attention is enough to prevent game developers and publishers taking a different stance.

        Yeah, I've watched those movies, I don't watch south park or family either.

        the last MoH was full of USA USA USA propaganda.

      A million likes/thumbs/kudos for this comment

    Well they kill Brits but do you hear them crying foul, or did you hear the Russians cry foul the countless times they've been depicted as the bad America seriously needs to get over themselves, their economy is in the crapper and they still think they are the best country in the world.

      Oh God, they're everywhere.

        We could hardly call ourselves Australian if we didn't stick it to the Yanks in any given chance. It's an ingrained part of our culture.

          I've nothing against some good-natured ribbing and I have plenty of American friends who I can make fun of. But this is something different, this supercilious attitude of "Yanks are babies who can't stand losing and all buy into the propaganda and ergo, we are better than them." We see the absolute worst of American culture so idiots who can't hold two disparate thoughts in their head think all Americans are either Glenn Beck or The Jersey Shore. This is akin to an American watching The Chaser and seeing the show eviscerate bogans and other Aussie idiots and thinking we're all like that.

            I should add that I don't hate America in any way, in fact I love parts of it more than Australia, it's just that some people over there, particularly gamers, are so pretentious and obnoxious its not funny anymore.

              It's true that many certainly aren't the type to whine and cry if they lose. Yet sadly that vocal minority is very visible up here in Canada and it unfortunately gives the impression that a lot of Americans are like that instead of the small group that it really is.

      Just wait, eventually Russia will get pissed at how many times they're made the villain throughout our fictional history, and start a war with America because of it.

        Your right, its already happened a bit. Chinese have fought back and forcing Hollywood movies not to cast them as the baddies all the time either. Especially with China being top 3 box office for hollywood atm.

          Not to mention they're financing half of their movies now

    American's need to get over themselves.
    Every single game they make depicts either Russia or Afghanistan/Middle-East being not only the opposing force but the enemy (ie, terrorist acts etc)

    Nothing but blatant propaganda
    In 100 years time, kids studying history at school will look at this era and examine such blatant propaganda, as we do know but of WW1 and WW2

      Well some historians now lump WWI and WWII and other confilcts like the Spanish cival war as the Europeon cival war of 1914-1945, I imagine that in a 100 years time the "war on terror" will be refered to the "propoganda war" or "hysteria war" or something.
      As a side note a spent a year in Texas as a kid and the refered to the American cival war as "the peroid of northern aggression".

        One of the most staunchly conservative states in the union =/= all of America. Basing your perceptions of an entire country based on Texas or Mississippi is like spending a year in [insert craphole Aussie city] and thinking all Aussies are all racist bogans with southern cross tattoos.

    I reckon your game consumer will understand, but the last thing that Ubisoft need is for some right-wing nutter group in the US starting a boycott and getting a bunch on negative publicity all over the conservative media

      This. The problem is comments like these:
      -American’s need to get over themselves
      -Nothing but blatant propaganda
      -America seriously needs to get over themselves, their economy is in the crapper and they still think they are the best country in the world.
      -American’s can’t handle loosing

      These comments don't distinguish between ultranationalists/normal Americans and they're just as ignorant as anything coming from the right-wing teabaggers. Both are insulting to the intellect.

        Because the fact there is a major bloc of society that will throw around complaints like no tomorrow... and the majority of the media will ensure that every single person has the view of the right-wing conservatives ingrained in their head. Doesn't matter what they think, sales will suffer.

    A bit of a nothing article.
    "Can Americans Not Handle The Sight Of Their Ancestors Being Killed In Assassin’s Creed?"
    Who knows, pretty hard question to answer about country with a diverse population of 300+ million.
    I'd imagine the majority wouldn't care.

    The real question:
    "Does Ubisoft think Americans Cannot Handle The Sight Of Their Ancestors Being Killed In Assassin’s Creed?"
    Why would Ubisoft a large company do anything other than the safe conservative option. It's not in there interest. Consumers who read sites like this will know what the game is about and buy it. Consumers who only see the adverts will go "awesome a game about the american revolution" and buy it. Win, Win for Ubisoft.

    We know the story of Assassin's Creed winds up in a place where the Templars have America firmly wrapped in their tentacles and the Assassins have been reduced to a fringe dwelling groups of rebels. So I assume AC3 will tell the story of how America was founded by Templars, the story of the Assassins losing control of the world.

      That sounds quite plausible, and cool. George Washington a Templar?

        Washington didn't want to be President and imposed term limits so he could finally stop... doesn't sound like he'd be a Templar... every other President afterwards? That I won't argue with :-P

    Now, see, I understand what they're doing. Fox News might possibly run the game into the ground if we say high def slaughtering of America's founding fathers.

    The problem is, though, it means that there's some inconsistency between what we've seen of the game and what we've been told of the game, which could mean even more uncertainty in terms of the final product itself. Both the comments they've given about the game and the trailers seem awesome, but the inconsistency is an issue.

      Any publicity is good publicity. Don't believe me? CoD.

    Typical America, whinges heaps about itself, portrays the Russians as the Villain in 90% of action films and games

    The real question- "After the Conspiracy Theory Ramblings of Four and a Half Assassins Creed Games, Will Ozymandias' Giant Fake Octopus Finally Appear?"

    I read that they've had AC3 in the works for the last few games, but i'm curious if they've always had it set out that the third would be set during the revolutionary war.

    Perhaps going the way of american history was a bad choice after all.

    Which sucks for non-americans playing the game, because first i slowly came to terms with the fact that it's set in that country - and now i'm sort of happy with it, but now there are people who aren't even happy with that - despite the "american revolutionary war" being a major talking point in future AC games since the beginning of the franchise (Along with ninjas).

    First it's "it'd be cool to play a game that is set in MY country's history" and now it's "ohhh, but let's not kill americans"

    Just f*cking be happy with it.

    It's these sorts of things that makes me want ubisoft to come up with their own ideas. You can never satisfy people, and listening to the fans just leads to this sort of crap.
    If there ever is a movie (god help us), i'd be glad to at least see ubisoft having the full creative control that seems to be so controversial among these american movie studios.

    I'm not just saying that because i'm a non-american who 'hates' america. I don't hate america. It's just more trouble than it's worth, and ubisoft have done an amazing job to date with the games. Why stop now?

    Fuck Americans and their hoity-toity attitude. They're happy to dish out the BS propaganda but can't take it when they're on the receiving end.

    I'm pretty sure it has more to do with Ubisoft being French and hating British people rather than a sop to the USA.

    Which is still fairly dumb considering the American Revolutionaries were actually British and the War of Independence was a civil war.

    *suddenly feels awkward*

    *backs out of the room slowly*...

    2 things
    1: Britian Was the OCCUPING force so they are the ones wandering around the city.
    2: He dosent kill bluecoats in any of the trailers? Really? Watch the anvil next tailer.

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