“Chief parkour officer” is now a real games industry job

Thursday, 17th July 2014 02:28 GMT By Brenna Hillier

Assassin’s Creed will be developed with assistance from its new, official “chief parkour office”, Ubisoft has announced.


Ubisoft has increased the Assassin’s Creed team by one in appointing Michael “Frosti” Zernow to the unique role.

CVG reports Zernow’s job will be help make Assassin’s Creed’s free running more realistic.

This will have the parkour expert serving “in a strategic advisory role, ensuring an ongoing commitment to the authenticity and accuracy of parkour”.

Ubisoft’s announcement makes it sound like Zernow’s stint will even have an effect on Assassin’s Creed: Unity, which hits PC, PS4 and Xbox One in October.

Zernow is well-known in the parkour world for his group Tempest Freerunning, and has lent his services to games development before, in motion capture sessions.



  1. salarta

    “Man, I really wish we could add playable women to this multiplayer mode, but we really need to reserve that money for chief parkour officers, websites dedicated to customizing smaller pieces of one male character, and big marketing campaigns on pirate-themed boats. We just don’t have the budget to add boobs, you see!”

    Someone’s gonna bitch about my comment. Don’t care.

    #1 5 months ago
  2. Shinji10TH

    @salarta What would you prefer, a female “skin” for a male character (What you called, and I quote : “Boobs”), or a real female character (like Aveline, not the best example, but still) ?

    If it’s the latter, you know you need time to include such a character perspective in a game, more so when the game is already near the end of it’s development cycle, and you can still get the chance to bitch about that when you play the game, and that you don’t find any significant female character (Knowing that French Revolution had a lot of them).

    If you just want the first choice, you should be ashamed of yourself.

    #2 5 months ago
  3. salarta

    @Shinji10TH Real female character is the ideal, but female skin on a generic character skeleton (because nothing inherently says “only men are allowed to move this way”) is acceptable. It’s even more damning because the team themselves said it was on their “features” list, showing even they knew they should include playable women but decided it should be treated as something to only tack on after the fact if there’s enough time and money.

    Which, apparently, is money they decided desperately needed to be spent on all these other things.

    “Significant female character” is different from “playable female character” and you know it. I’m not buying and playing Unity. I never will. I already wasn’t buying anything Ubisoft because they’re going out of their way to screw over Desilets and withhold his IP from him after they bought out the company he was working on the project with. This is just yet another thing that proves the company doesn’t deserve money, and I know that list will just keep growing. It’s inevitable. All bad companies amass a nice, long list of these kind of mistakes, until the weight of them finally does them in. Squeenix and Capcom have “enjoyed” what Ubisoft has coming its way in at most 10 years from now.

    You’re defending a company making cheap, flimsy excuses for refusing to do something that even the company itself knows should’ve been done.

    #3 5 months ago
  4. Shinji10TH

    @salarta I see how this supposed “weight” screwed Activision or EA.
    I’m not defending Ubi, and why would I, but I know how to differentiate between company policies (Business) and developers choices (Creativity), and as far as I know, not a single Ubi employee has BM poor Desilets (They didn’t defend him either, but still), yes Ubi is going the wrong way with many franchises, but I still think that this female character thing has been blown out of proportion, because you have to keep in mind that AC playable character is always at the heart of the story, which means considerable changes when you will switch genders, and since Unity won’t have multiplayer, I don’t see where to include “female skins” (No, story co-op isn’t MP and is the worst thing to have in an AC game considering their inherently low difficulty).

    #4 5 months ago
  5. TheWulf


    Except that EA keeps redeeming themselves in weird ways. For example, the handling of lady Shepard was tasteful and respectful, with Mass Effect 3 covers even being reversible to feature her (and some all ready having been reversed in stores, from what I heard). Jennifer Hale proved that you can handle it all in the delivery, and she was brilliant at that.

    It’s hard to hate EA when they’ve provided one of the best examples of how to handle a woman in video games as of yet. As much as I love Obsidian, and I do love Obsidian, their women can be flat. Commander Shepard never really felt flat at all, in fact, given the somewhat emotionless acting of her male counterpart, she actually felt like the better choice.

    Ubisoft hasn’t done anything of the sort, though. They remind me of Gene Roddenberry, if I’m to be fair. Gene had great ideas about racial equality, but he was a horrible misogynist. In the first few seasons of Star Trek, Patrick Stewart butted heads with him lots over this. It was also why Denise Crosby left, who was by far the most interesting woman in the show.

    Gates McFadden left for a season, too, for the same reason. That’s why season 2 had Dr. Pulaski.

    When Gene Roddenberry died, Patrick Stewart was actually happy. It showed him grinning like a fool in one interview and talking about how great it was that Gene had passed on, because it allowed them to stop being so damned sexist. They could add a third dimension to Troy’s character and give her a proper uniform, like everyone else, instead of that ridiculous bunny suit.

    It’s also interesting that the earlier seasons of The Next Generation are the male fandom’s most beloved, whereas Voyager, a much more highbrow and intellectually enabled show, is hated. Why? Voyager had powerful women (Janeway, Seven, B’Elanna Torres) and subdued men (Paris, Kim, Chakotay, Tuvok). That’s all there is to it.

    Misogyny is rife amongst straight, white, cis-gendered men.

    I’m going to quote something prolific comic book writer Matt Fraction said recently in full:

    We [Fraction and his wife, Kelly Sue DeConnick] were pregnant at the time, and while I was out there I started to realize that if I had a daughter, there would come a day when I would have to apologize to her for my profession. I would have to apologize for the way it treats and speaks to women readers, and the way it treats its female characters.

    I knew that if we had a daughter, because I know my wife and I know the kind of girl she wants to raise and I know the kind of girl I want to raise, she was going to look at what I did for a living and want to know how the fuck I could stomach it. How could I sell her out like that?

    That conversation is still coming, and I’m bracing for it in the way that some dads brace for their daughter’s first date or boyfriend. I became acutely aware that I had sort of done that thing that lots of privileged hetero cisgendered white dudes do. ‘I’m cool with women, and that’s enough.’ It’s not enough. It’s embarrassing to say, because we somehow have attached shame to learning and evolving our opinions, culturally, but I became aware that there was a deficiency of and to women in my work, and all I could do at that moment was take care of my side of the street.

    It’s a very important thing to read and understand. It’s as true of video games as it is of comics. The most bizarre thing though is that video games are worse now than they were in the ’90s and early ’00s (which I refer to frequently as the golden era of gaming). Back then, we had April Ryan, Jade, Zanthia, Laverne, Kate Walker, Samus Aran (before the bad things happened), Tanya, Elaine Marley, Nico, and more, as I really could go on like this.

    Those women were fantastic, just because they were. It didn’t need to be celebrated, because strong, independent, intelligent women were very much par the course back then. It was accepted. In Monkey Island, Guybrush was a bumbling imbecile whose fat was often pulled out of the fire by the eminently competent and lovely Governor Marley.

    And in Beyond Good & Evil, Jade rescued both Double-H and Pey’j.

    The ’90s and early ’00s loved subverting the trope of the weak-willed sex object needing to be rescued by a big, strong man up until its very last breath. When you understand that this is where we’ve come from, and this is what we’ve lost, it’s easy to then perceive why some people might be very upset.

    We’ve come from women that can think for themselves, to ‘terrified female hostages whose bodies you can position in any questionable manner you like, because you’re a big man and you can do that.’

    And it is an issue. Sexism is real. And guys can be sanctimonious pricks about it, real arseholes, entitled fucks who can’t even perceive that maybe, just MAYBE, women would enjoy some of the limelight. Maybe a woman would like to be the hero, rather than the damsel in distress. This is why I keep saying that it feels like after the progressive ’90s and early ’00s, the golden era, we’ve done a time warp back to the conservative ’50s, the American ’50s especially, where women were meant to be kitchen slaves, seen but not heard. That’s where we are, now.



    I hate the world I live in, right now. You have no fucking idea.

    The ’90s were so amazing. So were the early ’00s. What happened??

    You had Janeway, as the Captain of a starship, you had Sam Carter as a kick arse scientist with military training who could hold her own and was one of the most interesting characters in SG-1, you had Ripley from Aliens, you had Sarah Connor. What happened?

    So, yeah. Women are bothered by this. They want some representation as something other than kitchen slaves. They don’t want the world to spiral back into ’50s conservative America, and neither do I. I live in Britain, Britain isn’t supposed to feel like ’50s conservative America, BUT IT DOES.

    And it’s bloody wrong.

    Are the privileged straight, white, cis-gendered male crowd so, so afraid of losing their seat of power that ’50s conservative America is preferable to any alternative? Is that what you want? I’m a guy, too! That’s not what I want! Admittedly, I’m disabled and gay, which has altered my outlook on life because I’ve been bullied, discriminated against, almost killed more than once, and… much worse.

    But I’m a guy. And I don’t want that. I can’t understand why anyone would want that. I want things to be as progressive as they were in the ’90s and early ’00s again. I miss that. I really do.

    #5 5 months ago
  6. TheWulf

    Man, I remember the late ’90s and early ’00s were getting progressive about gay people, too. Gay people were actually quite popular, then. But, same as with women, it dropped off at some point in the last however many years and I think everyone is starting to feel a little bit worried again.

    As I keep pointing out, I feel like the world is spiralling backwards, getting more regressive so quickly, and becoming ’50s conservative America — white picket fences, wholesome families, destroy those who upset this status quo.

    I admit that gay people had a better run than women in more recent years, but homophobia is becoming the in thing again, where everyone gets really fucking hateful if a gay character shows up in something. Because romance is fine if it’s straight, but if it has a gay character then “THIS GAME SHOULDN’T HAVE ROMANCE IN IT AT ALL, THAT’S MY ARGUMENT, YES.

    I don’t know. I’m just really not enjoying humanity right now. It felt like we were on the right track for a bit, back there. We had open-mindedness, it was a boon, and those without it were usually shunned as the nasty, violent people they were. We had imagination and creativity. And we weren’t afraid to have sitcoms about gay guys or strong women in sci-fi.

    And now?

    Really, what the hell is happening? This is what women, gay people, and every marginalised concern is railing against. We don’t want to be treated so badly that people will turn violent against us again. No thank you. We don’t want to go back to a time when that was okay. But that’s where, to me, I feel we’re headed. Because people are all too ready to excuse misogyny, sexism, homophobia, racism, and cultural xenophobia.

    This isn’t the grand future of humanity I longed for.

    #6 5 months ago

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