Assassin’s Creed: Too Controversial?

Thats a trailer of Assassin’s Creed, one of my favourite games. And yes, that’s the pope’s son he is attacking at the Vatican.

What I like about Assassin’s Creed is that it introduces interesting spins on historical events. Sometimes though, people overreact. For example, the events of ACII link the Catholic Church and its then-pope Rodrigo Borgia as antagonists. Writes Jett Farell-Vega in a piece titled “Uncloaking Assassin’s Creed” in Relevant Magazine:

Indeed, Richard Clark, a devout Christian, describes his experience playing AC2 (READ MORE HERE)  as less-than-spectacular:

Assassin’s Creed typically opens with the disclaimer:

Evidently, this did not stop Clark from experiencing the game ‘within the context of [his] own belief systems.’

It begs the question: Should future Assassin’s Creed games be modified to allow for it to be least offensive as possible?  This comes after Assassin’s Creed III has been accused of being ‘anti-British,‘ as the series’ new protagonist, Connor Kenway has been repeatedly seen slaying redcoats. View one such video here. (Perhaps to pre-empt such accusations, footage has emerged where Connor kills American Patriots. See this here.)

If I was a Catholic, would I be offended by the content in AC2? Very likely so. However, so would Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code, which spawned a movie that made some 758 million worldwide. But apart from taking potshots at Christian faith, they have another thing in common: obvious works of fiction that should be taken with a pinch of salt.

Christians have the right to hold up a bible to an atheist and proclaim its content as ‘the word of God.’  If that is a case, why shouldn’t gamers should be able to enjoy a game that its creators have explicitly acknowledged as fictional?  Insensitive as it might sound, if one finds an product offensive, one can always not consume it to avoid feeling offended and look the other way.

Forms of media that are ubiquitous and with large audiences (free-to-air television, public radio) tend to be more heavily regulated when it comes to censorship and sensitivities.

In contrast, media is that has barriers such as movies, pay-per-view content, video games are less regulated. In Australia, it costs an average of $12.89 for an adult to watch a movie which might contain offensive content. In comparison, Assassin’s Creed 2, released in 2009, still costs $25 on Steam. Assassin’s Creed 3 will hit stores at least $90 in Australia. Surely, this hefty price will serve as a sufficient deterrent to those that find the game offensive?

“But what about young children that have minds that are easily influenced? They might get an twisted perspective on Catholics by playing the game?” 

It is the responsibility of parents to ensure children play the videogames meant for them, part of the fine art of parenting. Sure, Assassin’s Creed is a historical game with stunningly accurate graphics and environments. However, it is after all, just a game. It is unreasonable to expect balanced, impartial viewpoints from a game.

As Aaron Eckhart’s character in Thank You for Smoking (2005) says, ‘Gentlemen. It’s called education. It doesn’t come off the side of  from a cigarette carton video game. It comes from our teachers, and more importantly, our parents. It is the job of every parent to warn their children of all the dangers of the world including cigarettes video games and religion so that one day when they get older, they can choose for themselves.’


2 thoughts on “Assassin’s Creed: Too Controversial?

  1. nsdogss

    “Insensitive as it might sound, if one finds an product offensive, one can always not consume it to avoid feeling offended and look the other way.”

    Definitely agree with this.

  2. Goh Wei Choon

    It’s just a game, just because someone is offended doesn’t mean they’re right!

    Their offense, horror, disgust or shock doesn’t mean a damn thing, their logical arguments against it, however, do. It’s just plain silly now, that people put their hands on their hearts, reeling at the horror present in a video game which disclaims at the very beginning (a disclaimer which you cannot skip btw) the fictitious nature of the work.

    In my opinion the exploration of the religious themes explored in the game is by no means an attempt to demean or slight the impact or importance of the Bible or such associated themes. IN FACT, it addresses many such themes in mature, logical, and witty way that freshens up the content and presents it to a potentially new spectrum of people.

    The validity of the Bible, or the Qu’ran, or whatever such works are of course disputed, and the game never claims to have such an answer, but the referencing of these themes certainly indicate that there is a fondness and respect for the works as not just important works of faith, but indeed treasures of literature, and their historic aspect is undeniable.

    There are countless other pop culture products that reference the Bible in varying degrees, a notable one being the acclaimed Japanese anime series: Neon Genesis Evangelion (the name is already quite an indication) The series references, both literally and metaphorically; Biblical subject matter, and in doing so brings up and employs the already existant themes being the Biblical names to drum up incredible historical subtext that underlines and supports the narrative.


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