Ever since the release of the first Assassin’s Creed game in November of 2007, I have been an avid fan of the franchise. In fact, it was the original Assassin’s Creed which inspired me to delve deeper into the industry side of video games simply based on the revelation that the game was being produced by Jade Raymond.

Before Assassin’s Creed, my teenage self always dreamed of being paid to play video games. I didn’t know exactly what that meant at the time, but once I read more about this game I loved so much, I discovered that a woman was the face behind its production. Yes, a woman. To this day I still greatly respect and revere Jade Raymond as an industry professional because her involvement and visibility during the production of Assassin’s Creed inspired me to learn more about the industry I loved. But not only that, she truly inspired me to chase my aspiration of becoming involved with video games on the production level; a goal I had never thought to be obtainable. So when news broke recently that Ubisoft abandoned the idea of women assassins in Assassin’s Creed: Unity’s co-op due to the pressure of additional production work, my heart broke.

Assassin’s Creed: Unity is the seventh instalment of Ubisoft’s heroic series and, from what we’ve seen so far, promises to be a worthy successor to the exceptional Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag. Set in Paris on the eve of the French Revolution, Assassin’s Creed: Unity provides an epic stage for the story of Arno Dorian our new protagonist. In addition to the game’s gorgeous Parisian landscape, Ubisoft’s production team has improved free run mechanics, added intriguing new side missions, deeply enriched the NPC behavior system, and detailed the city structures to an impressive level of realism. However, despite having the time and ability to develop each of these characteristics, the one thing Ubisoft’s development team didn’t have time for was female assassins. Understandably, adding the additional animations and physics of female characters would have been added work for the team, but let’s not forget the production of Assassin’s Creed: Unity has been spread across ten different Ubisoft studios over the course of three years.

That’s three more studios than were involved with Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag, and there were definitely female assassins in that game; granted, they were NPC’s, but the physics and animations remained. Additionally, it’s not like Ubisoft has never developed an Assassin’s Creed title with a female protagonist. Assassin’s Creed: Liberation introduced an excellent female assassin in the form of Aveline.

In my opinion, there’s no excuse here on the part of Ubisoft. The introduction of co-op in Assassin’s Creed: Unity inspires a new level of inclusivity within the Assassin’s Creed universe. Personally, I cannot wait to gather my friends together and slay our way through the bloody French Revolution. But I would be lying if I didn’t say I’ll be a bit disappointed I can’t do that with a character who reflects my likeness.
I play video games to escape my real life and live out wild fantasies. As a female gamer, that suspension of disbelief is greatly disillusioned when I’m forced to interact as a male protagonist; especially within the context of multiplayer or co-op.

Sexism in the industry is not a new topic. It’s actually a topic I’m sure everyone is sick and tired of hearing about; but if you’re sick and tired of hearing about it, just imagine how sick and tired 45% of the American gamer population is of being repeatedly underrepresented and often misrepresented within this industry.

Almost half of the entire American gamer population is female, yet only an estimated 4% of games have exclusively female protagonists. Female gamers are an exceptionally present part of the industry’s audience, yet developers continue to ignore the opportunity to exploit that market share. As female gamers, we’re not looking to change the world we just want to play games as characters that look and feel the same way we do. Is that too much to ask? Ubisoft is the studio which inspired me to acknowledge my video game industry ambitions, even as a woman, so hearing this lack of commitment on the part of my favorite developer was quite hurtful. Of course I’ll still be playing Assassin’s Creed: Unity the day it releases, but I can’t help but already be disappointed in its untapped potential.

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