Assassin’s Creed 3: Liberation writer Jill Murray has downplayed Ubisoft’s decision to feature a black, female protagonist, instead calling on the rest of the industry to catch up.
Speaking to Kotaku in an interesting feature on Aveline’s creation, Murray said some of those arguing in defence of all-white, all-male casts are being creatively lazy.
“[There’s a] fear that ‘diverse’ characters are risky and might offend or alienate players by their simple inclusion — that including them requires a magic touch, special bravery, a trembling sensitivity, or a mandate to ignore sales,” she said.
“Creating “diverse” characters is no different than creating any character, and I believe that those who struggle with it need to address deeper issues within their own creative process.”
Murray said writers and designers need to be able to make any kind of character relatable; that’s their job.
“I strongly believe that if an audience can’t connect to such a character, it’s not because women, brown people, old people, queer people, or any type of character at all doesn’t belong at the helm of a game; it’s because the creator didn’t dig deep enough to find a way to connect with that character,” she said.
“A good writer should be able to make you weep for, laugh with, even aspire to be an amoeba if necessary. Blaming a character for failure is like blaming a hockey stick for losing the game — a hockey stick you made with your own hands, to use in a game of your own invention. I call shenanigans.”
Murray also expressed frustration with the idea that creators don’t need to push to create diverse characters because it will “just happen” if the story calls for it.
“Of course it’s not going to just happen. If it did, we wouldn’t be having this discussion,” she said.
“It’s necessary to fight these assumptions, and stand up for our characters. If we believe in them, we have to rise to the occasion and show ourselves and the people we work with how to bring them to life successfully. But this does not require magic, scary effort — it’s effort anyone can put in. It’s fun, it adds variety, and it makes a lot of players feel good. It’s more than worthwhile and we should definitely try to do more of it.”
Murray and her co-writer at Ubisoft Montreal picked up a Writers Guild of America award for the Vita-exclusive Assassin’s Creed 3: Liberation, which the writer noted is selling pretty well.