A Critical Reading of Assassin’s Creed: Stereotypical Representations of the Other in Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed.

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Though it is the fastest growing and most successful branch of the entertainment industry (by far), cultural and social patterns in video games remain somewhat understudied. Yet much like a book or a movie, video games too, are cultural products. Assassin’s Creed is the most successful franchise for the Canadian video game publisher Ubisoft. No game is as ethnically diverse as the Assassin’s Creed franchise; its protagonists are from all parts of the globe; Syria, America, France, Italy, Africa etc. Portraying all these different cultures means stereotypes will arise as the avoidance of stereotyping is a “mythology of creation” (Said 202). Culturally, the representation of these different ethnicities and the exploration of these stereotypes can tell us the effect these portrayals have on gamers. The possibility space the developers create within their virtual world entices gamers to reflect on the real world. Th! is reflec tion affirms the claim that gamers are ethical beings but likewise establishes that video games too have an ethical responsibility. When video games make stereotypical portrayals of a certain demographic or ethnicity in the game itself it makes a claim about the real world and gamers, through a procedural rhetoric, think about these issues in relation to that real world. As such video games operate as cultural products that can both represent “how things work” (Bogost The Rhetoric of Video Games 125) and how things do not work. By looking at Assassin’s Creed as such a cultural product and exploring its stereotypes we can identify the cultural and social claims the game makes and by looking at its effect on the gamer we can identify how these claims are appropriated by the public. Though stereotypes do not necessarily have to be true, they should be permitted as it is stereotypes which entice reflection and reflection teaches us who we are, and what we want.
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