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AC3: Native American consultant hired to “make sure we’re handling things appropriately,” says Ubisoft

Friday, 30th March 2012 21:10 GMT By Stephany Nunneley

Creative director Alex Hutchinson has said the Assassin’s Creed III team “liked the idea of having a minority” as the lead character in the game, but don’t expect Connor Kenway to be stereotypical Hollywood brave like Tonto.

Speaking with the PS Blog, Hutchinson said the development of Connor, or Ratohnhaké:ton if you will, was “taken very seriously” by the team, and a Native American consultant was brought on board to make sure things were “handled properly.”

“We took it very seriously when we decided to have a Native American assassin, we wanted someone who was one step removed — we didn’t want a Redcoat or a Patriot,” he said. “We also really liked the idea of having a minority as the lead character, especially one that isn’t really represented in popular culture.

“It comes with a lot of risk as well; we’ve hired a Native American consultant to make sure we’re handling things appropriately, and the actor who voices Connor is Native American as well.”

For the first time in the AC series, the protagonist will be able to dual-wield, something apparently required back in the Colonial era, and such a inclusion required changes to be made to the control layout

“We wanted him to feel more like a predator, so all of his combat is two-handed whether it’s tomahawk and knife, or hidden blade and knife,” Hutchinson said. “There’s a lot of new gear, and if you’ve watched movies like The Last of the Mohicans you can probably figure out some of them. But the core combat system has been rebuilt completely. What the buttons do, how they do it, the enemy types, the strategy, and so forth.

“The goal was to create a character who was as nimble and as capable in a wilderness environment as Ezio and Altair were in cities. We wanted to turn the frontier into a 3D playing space of uneven surfaces and slopes and trees….so when we looked at the controls, we thought we could clarify them. Having to hold two buttons at once in order to climb was definitely something we wanted to address.

“In Assassin’s Creed III, if you hold R1 you’ll free run safely. You’ll stay relatively horizontal, so Connor will run past trees and he’ll only take “safe” jumps. But if you hold X as well, then the run becomes unsafe — he’ll try to go vertical, and if he hits the edge of a cliff, he’ll jump. Hopefully it’ll give peoples’ hands some relief, but it’s also a way of telling the game whether you want to take risks or not.

“We’ve managed to unify that new control scheme with our fighting. R1 is always sprint, so you don’t have to lock onto enemies anymore in order to attack them. And if you wanna get out of a fight, you just hold R1 and off you go. We have this idea, too, that Connor is always in motion — that he can assassinate on the run. So we have ways to run past a guard, snatch his musket, shoot his buddy, kill the next guy, and keep on moving.”

Assassin’s Creed III is out in October.

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24 Comments

  1. Yoshi

    As long as he doesn’t sound like “Yo blood, I iz gunna totally assassinate you brahh” then I’ll be happy :)

    #1 3 years ago
  2. Stephany Nunneley

    @1 HAHAHA! :D I doubt that very seriously.

    #2 3 years ago
  3. DSB

    That’s an interesting case study of reverse racism.

    I wonder how people would act if they were doing a black protagonist and they went out and said that they’d hired a black consultant to make sure it was done well. Or tetragrammaton forbid, a jew.

    Because we all know, people are never just people, they all have stereotypes to fill. Says a lot for how much political correctness shares with the racism it’s supposed to counter.

    #3 3 years ago
  4. absolutezero

    Well theres the whole thing at the start of every Assassin’s Creed about the games being developed by a multi-cultural team, I guess they lacked a Native American.

    Should have just watched Last of the Mohicans.

    #4 3 years ago
  5. DSB

    @4 They put that in there because the first guy is an arab killing christians.

    It’s a sad, weak attitude. Either stand by what you’re making, or don’t make it. Don’t start your game with an excuse. If you believe in what you’re doing, and you’re comfortable with that, you should have no problem telling people to go fuck themselves if they choose to misenterpret it.

    #5 3 years ago
  6. The_Red

    @3 Interesting comment and while I do agree with your points about PCness, a consultant here makes sense since this is more about a group of people with completely different lifestyle. Almost like finding a consultant for a certain tribe.

    #6 3 years ago
  7. TheWulf

    @3

    I’m not sure I buy that. I’m not into this, but that seems like cynicism/hating for the sake of it. And I’m really sick of that. I mean, we haven’t played it and we don’t know how they’re approaching it…

    Anyway, you’re looking at this wrong. If they were doing a game on aboriginal history, they may hire an expert on that topic. That their skin is a certain colour or that they’re a certain ethnicity wouldn’t matter. And yes, they’d likely be black. So it would be ‘hiring a black person about a game with black people.’ But that’s a horrible, cynical, hateful way of looking at things.

    #7 3 years ago
  8. TheWulf

    Anyway, that just did a lot to boost my interest in this game. If they’re actually getting their facts right and from a viewpoint that often isn’t given a lot of voice, then this game could be very interesting indeed.

    This has turned from a ‘not interested’ to a ‘may buy’ for that alone.

    #8 3 years ago
  9. Gekidami

    @3
    Theres a key difference though; The game will explore native American culture, something a bunch of devs know nothing about (supposedly). You can bet that if they had a black protagonist in a game they wouldnt have a consultant, but if they have a black protagonist and the game was based around the Zulu people, then they’d have one. Its all about context.

    #9 3 years ago
  10. DSB

    @6 I kinda elaborate on why I think it’s a case of reverse racism in the second post. Ubisoft have been backpeddling on this concept since the first game in my opinion.

    The politically correct terms actually only serve to put distance between you and the people you’re referring to. Nobody refers to a white american as a “european american” or a “caucasian american”. If you did that, people would be weirded out. A white person is simply a white person. That’s purely because white people are the majority, and few of those have a problem with other white people.

    Calling someone a hispanic american or african american is really a way of putting distance between us, and certainly even more so when you consider the fact that it’s only applied to minorities, who are already far down on the social ladder.

    Our inability to call a black person a black person, in my opinion only serves to symbolize the fact that a lot of people have a serious racial problem. I’ve been called a racist quite a few times simply for aknowledging other races AS other races – even right here on the site.

    That’s the problem with political correctness. It’s often just polite racism.

    Of course indians are somewhat special for being very tribal. They haven’t really bonded under a collective term like the inuit, and the word indian is misrepresentative as well as colonial. But whether you’re a lakota or a creek, you’re still part of the same race.

    I’d probably go with native american as well, but it’s still the wrong way to go.

    What these guys should be focused on isn’t racial and cultural stereotypes, but actually making a character that has a heart and a brain to use for more than simply saying “Hey, I’m an indian, isn’t that awesome guys?!”

    Which is pretty much how this guy is selling his character.

    Countering racism isn’t about trying to ignore the fact that we look and live differently, it’s about not making it the main thing.

    #10 3 years ago
  11. Stephany Nunneley

    @4 – :D While from a “romantic” point of view that’s true, in truth, The Last of the Mohicans (as much as the “girl” in my liked seeing DDL running around in buckskin) had the usual, Hollywood stereotypes tossed in.

    #11 3 years ago
  12. DSB

    @Geki and Wulf – I can’t say specifically what’s meant by “Native American consultant” but to me it sounds like they hired a Native American, and they expect mad props for that.

    I can understand how you’d need to know more about a culture like that, but your examples are a bit silly. Anything any Native American knows about Native Americans 200 years ago is what they’ve read in a book or been told by their parents who probably read it in a book.

    I’m guessing modern Native Americans are a lot more concerned with The Bureau of Indian Affairs, or how the FBI shot or beat their relatives in the 1970s, than what the Patriots and British were doing 200 years ago,

    When making a game about Napoleonic France you’re not going to go for an expert who’s actually French. That’s purely a racial/nationalist determination.

    “We also really liked the idea of having a minority as the lead character, especially one that isn’t really represented in popular culture.”

    This is really the problem. It’s a racial/cultural novelty, not a human being.

    #12 3 years ago
  13. Ireland Michael

    I have serious problems with this reverse racism assumption.

    As someone who has had the pleasure of not only being introduced to people native to the Americans, and married into a family with strong native routes, I can safely say that the reality *is* vastly different to the stereotypes.

    The amount of genuine knowledge the average joe has on the culture and identity of The People (the terms Native American or Indian are in themselves insulting to their heritage) is pretty embarrassing. This guy is obviously being hired simply to provide a level of authenticity to how they will be presented in the game.

    You can’t really use the black protagonist argument in this instance. The franchise doesn’t have one, but if they moved to Africa or somewhere similar, I have no doubt they would hire consultants for that too. You are way too hung up on the whole thing.

    #13 3 years ago
  14. DSB

    @13 I’m partly commenting on the problem in general, and the fact that it’s exemplified in what he says makes it interesting to detail. It’s not something I’d do while ordering coffee.

    I don’t disagree with anything you say, but I don’t see how anything he says is actually respectful to those people.

    Picking someone because they’re a “minority” is a freakshow, or a PR gag. Picking someone because they’re actually interesting and they fit the story you want to tell is paying respect.

    But you don’t do that by making a “1700s indian”. You do that by making a real person, who happens to be a 1700s indian. The fact that the latter is heavily emphasized over the former is the problem.

    #14 3 years ago
  15. Ireland Michael

    @14 I don’t think there’s anything wrong with creating minority characters just as long as the fact actually plays into their character somehow. I’ll take that over a stubbled, bald American any day.

    I think Ubisoft are smart enough to create a proper character out of this, and I think its a given that his identity was put together in such a way as to be central to the main conflict of the story.

    #15 3 years ago
  16. DSB

    @15 Oh there isn’t. The problem is when you start with a minority and then build the character around that instead of vice versa, which is how I’m reading this guy.

    Nothing on his personality, but all about his race. That’s not encouraging to me.

    #16 3 years ago
  17. SplatteredHouse

    Not like Tonto, you say. So…the AC3 lead will be more like John Redcorn, then?

    #17 3 years ago
  18. Stephany Nunneley

    @17 :D :D John Redcorn…. hahaha!

    #18 3 years ago
  19. The_Red

    @10 Thanks for the elaboration but even though their choice of words maybe a bit problematic and the whole thing screams a PR move, this is still about getting the facts right. For example, I’m Persian and a lot of things they’ve done with Prince of Persia games sadden me because they get almost every fact wrong (Don’t even get me started on the joke/crapfest that was 300).

    Of course saying that they’ve consulted a “Persian American” may have sounded bad but it could have helped them make the games the right way in regards to Persian culture (Though I did find POP 2008 a bit more respectful in a few ways).
    I think there are two different matters here: 1.The current stupid PC trend of saying “African American” 2. The matter of studying or getting someone with knowledge about a certain culture before making a game/film about them.

    #19 3 years ago
  20. OrbitMonkey

    Paleface makeum big chief look silly? Me scalpum!! ;-)

    #20 3 years ago
  21. back_up

    PS3 version best and has exclusive content
    PC gamers are crying because kb and mouse are worst controls

    #21 3 years ago
  22. OrbitMonkey

    ^ Yeah, but pc gamers will get it for free, the dirty pirates!! Trollface herp derp!

    #22 3 years ago
  23. back_up

    PC gamers are dirty pirates
    Trollface herp derp!

    #23 3 years ago
  24. sh4dow

    @13:

    I largely appreciate your comment but what you say about “The People” sounds very insulting too. To all of humanity. And it SHOULD feel insulting to Native Americans too. Because the term “The People” seems to allege that they see themselves as some sort of master race. Which has nothing to do with heritage or honor but would simply be megalomania. “Native American” is merely a description – they WERE/ARE the native people of America after all. “The People” on the other hand… what makes them “THE People”? That implies that everybody else would belong to “The Unpeople”.

    #24 3 years ago

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