March 07, 2012

Video game features Mohawk assassin

Assassin’s Creed III Features Mohawk HeroConsole gamers are drooling over the just-released details of the latest installment of the Assassin’s Creed series, and from the looks of it Natives have reason to celebrate as well. Information leaked to gaming sites describes a protagonist who is half white and half Mohawk embarking on a quest during the Revolutionary War. According to, the character is named Connor or Ratohnhake:ton (Ra-doon-ha-gay-doo), was raised by the Mohawk tribe and vows to fight the power after his village is burned down by white colonists. He carries two pistols, a bow, and a war hatchet.

Connor is an one of the Assassins, who, as established in previous games in the series, are in an eternal battle with the Knights Templar (or Templars). Previous editions of the game have been largely set in the so-called Holy Land (including Jerusalem) in the 12th century and in 15th and 16th-century Italy (Rome, Florence, Naples, Venice), with some journeys to places such as Constantinople (present-day Istanbul, Turkey) and Spain.

This is just about all the information we have, although we can also add some conventional wisdom based on the previous installments of the series: Don’t expect predictable choices for who will be the “good guys” and who will be bad. The gaming experts at IncGames discuss their hopes and expectations for the title, and they admit they were skeptical when they first heard it was to be set during the Revolutionary war. One of them offers this:

I appreciate concerns that AssThree could be at risk of turning into a nationalistic piece of trash like The Patriot, but development is being handled by a French-Canadian team who, let’s face it, are unlikely to be blinded by stars and stripes.

Further down in that discussion, another points out:

If you’re expecting AssThree to extol the virtues of Great American Heroes like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin, and John Adams, you may want to think again. In fact, if at least one or two favoured historical figures aren’t evil Templars, I’m going to be both surprised and disappointed.
Comment:  I haven't seen the game, but anyone who's an assassin is more of an anti-hero than a hero. Even if his cause is righteous, if "Connor" is a merciless killer, he'll fall within the "savage" stereotype.

For more on Native video games, see "Native Representations in Video Games" and "Racism, Stereotypes, and the Digitized Indian."

Below:  "From the Assassin's Creed III box cover."


Rob said...

For more on the subject, see:

Scalping? Not in Assassin’s Creed III

According to a story posted at PlayStation Universe, developers of Assassin’s Creed III initially included a depiction of scalping in the game’s action, but removed it when they discovered the practice was a historical inaccuracy.

Rob said...

Even more on the subject:

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

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 RatohnhakĂ©: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.”