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Assassin’s Creed: The Frank Miller Effect Strikes Again

2011 January 19

Oh, BadRep.  How I wish I didn’t have to write the article I’m writing now.  How I wish that everything we fall in love with in the entertainment industry was miles and miles from feministic reproach.  How I wish that something, somewhere would just do everything right and not suck in sudden and unexpected ways.

Today, I’m subverting my own trope and writing about a game.  I do love a good computer game.  I like ones with excellent, flawed characters, and even more excellent, bizarre plots.  I like them big and sweeping and mind-bending, ideally with some kind of stealth element and something freaky and supernatural in the mix.  So naturally, I love the Assassin’s Creed franchise.  Dear god do I love the Assassin’s Creed franchise.

“Love” is probably not the right word.  It’s not enough to convey the level of brain-melting, nose-bleed-inducing obsession I have with it.  It doesn’t illustrate the way I dissolve into a twitching heap when exposed to the soundtrack, or that I screamed at the ending of the first game and spent the next week – avoiding spoilers – sleeplessly deciphering it with the aid of the internet.  “Love” just doesn’t cover it.  My affection for it is worrying.  It feeds my soul with the purest, shimmering godlike joy from on high through a glee tube.

So please understand how hard it is for me to criticise it in any way.

The franchise is, as the title may suggest, about Assassins with a capital A: not hitmen-for-hire, but the original Hashshashin, a devoted army of politically-motivated killers locked in a battle against the Knights Templar in an exciting tangle of conspiracy theory fodder that gets increasingly bizarre as the series continues.  Most of the characters are male.  This is partially a reflection on the time period in question (mid-Crusades era Syria and the Italian Renaissance) but also because, according to trope, there is only one type of female assassin.

“What type is that?” I hear you cry, perplexed that there should be more than one type of Assassin at all.

You already know.  It’s the Sex Assassin.  The one that lures in the victim with sexual desire, and then! when they’re at their most vulnerable! murders them with stabbing.

This trope is old.  The Sex Assassin is inevitably female.  She’s the Battle Whore; a sexually desirable object of cunning, guise and stabbing, and it’s exciting because there she is!  Subverting regular heterosexual intercourse by penetrating the man she’s seduced!  With a knife. Do you see what they did there!  Surely we are all undone with the inventiveness.  Women being all deadly and effective!  But only if couched in the narrative device of being used as a sex object.  That is the only way they can be empowered, apparently.

I desperately hoped that my beloved Assassin’s Creed would break free of this trope and give us some hard-ass, female battle bastards, but it doesn’t, really.  I looked at the line-up of playable classes for the most recent massive release, Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood, and there’s an array of interesting traditionally male roles: you’ve got a tank hangman, a plague doctor and a priest… and then there’s the woman.  There she is, at the back.  You can tell that she’s The Woman because there’s an awful lot of cleavage going on.

One of these is not like the others.

She’s a Sex Assassin.  That’s what she is.  Because she’s a woman.  What else would she do?  She’s special!  She has breasts, unlike all the other people in the world, who are apparently all hard, breastless, cisgendered men.  Women and their breasts are magical and rare, much like unicorns.  So naturally, she’ll be a Sex Assassin because goodness me, we can’t have any of the guys doing that.  Because they don’t have breasts.  And men are not sex objects for anyone ever.  Also, that’d be gay.  And that’s terrible!

There’s also a female harlequin, available as an optional extra.  And that’s brilliant, because the harlequins are terrifying, androgynous, lithe and competent (exactly what you want from an Assassin, really) and it really is nice to see a deadly, dangerous female character that isn’t a sex worker.   But – an optional extra?!  Why am I having to look for female characters who aren’t clinging desperately to the Lady Sex Assassin trope like a koala bear to the last damn eucalyptus tree on earth?

The second game (well, of the big platform releases; there’s been numerous spin-offs and blah blah blah, massive nerd dump on the series goes here, honestly, you’re better served asking Wikipedia than me because it is massively less drooling) is no better.  Ezio, our hero, has to learn how to be stealthy and to pickpocket people.  So, he learns from a female stealth expert.  Guess what she is!  Correct!  A concubine.  Because, of course, there is no other sort of dangerous woman.  All other women in Assassin’s Creed II are either harrowed victims in a revenge cycle, or Ezio’s passive, faceless lovers.

And what’s the deal with sex workers being cast as “dangerous”, anyway?  Is it yet another embodiment of Evil Female Sexuality, wherein a woman in control of her own sexuality is deemed “savage” or “out of control”?  Or is it some kind of “trap” issue?  The normative dialogue is that Mr. Cisgendered Manly McHeterosexual takes the first step towards initiating sexual contact; our Ms. Sex Assassin twists that by being the one that does the seducing instead.  The assumption, then, is that the seducer is the dangerous one, being as that men are the ones to usually instigate sex, and I’ve dropped my monocle in horror.

However!  It’s not all bad news.   Sidestepping any spoilers, Assassin’s Creed I and II have “framing” characters away from the time-travelling stabbination who are female Assassins.  They don’t stab anyone up, but are actually totally brilliant, stealthy and clever, and frequently save the (male) protagonist.  There!  That’s the juice without any spoilers.  The modern-day framing narrative characters rock my entire world, even though they’re not as action-entrenched as Altaïr or Ezio.

Recently, one of the wonderful Ubisoft community developers I follow on Twitter linked to some beautiful Assassin’s Creed-related artwork.  “Sexy Assassin!” they said.  I exploded with joy all over the internet and clicked through, hoping, as I always do, to find hot male pin-up.

Well.  I found this.

I mean, look at it.  It’s gorgeously done.  I can’t paint even remotely that well.  Hats off to the skills there!  It’s completely brilliant!  And who doesn’t like stockings?  Nobody.  Stockings are a sure-fire winner.  And, you know, I’m a fan of knives and stockings.  So that’s good.

But do you see the point I’m making?  Women apparently can’t be Assassins unless they’re some kind of Sex Assassin.  No!  Please!  It is perfectly possible to have scary, efficient, ruthless, politically-minded, devoted, armoured Assassins who are women.  Please give your female gamers someone to identify with who is tough and awesome without the over-riding message that the only way for them to be so is to give themselves sexually to men.

And, you know, I know this has been said before but – what’s with the lack of male pin-ups?  Why can’t we have male Sex Assassins?  What’s going on there?  Ezio is certainly meant to be sexy, and there’s lots of handsome portraiture of both him and the lovely Altaïr from the first game in the fanart-producing sector of the fandom.  But nothing quite like the “Sexy Assassin” I’ve linked to above.  Where’s all the ludicrous cheese and posturing?  I love cheese and posturing.  Ezio is one of the cheesiest posturers of any videogame character I have ever seen.  So where’s the pictures of him in just the hood draped all over Florence like it’s a city-sized chaise longue?

So, Ubisoft, if you’re reading, I gift to you the following three illustrations:

NUMBER ONE: the battle-worn avenger who kills for her beliefs and her Hashshashin family.

NUMBER TWO: the wise, old Master who is not to be under-estimated despite her years.

NUMBER THREE: Altaïr (artist’s impression thereof) in stockings doing a cheesecake.

NOTE TO READERS: I really do love Assassin’s Creed more than anything; please don’t let this article lead you to believe otherwise.

OTHER NOTE TO READERS: Anyone who suggests that I wrote this article as an excuse to draw Altaïr in lingerie is a heretic and liar and probably a Templar.  The Brotherhood are watching you.

Image credits for the Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood box art lie firmly in the hands of Ubisoft.


28 Responses leave one →
  1. Russell permalink
    January 19, 2011

    Re: The picture you linked to: Are there any women who are actually shaped like that? I don’t mean to annihilate them if there are, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen any in real life. Why do people want women to be shaped like that? I like them how they actually are shaped. I’m terribly confused. :(

    Games on the whole are pretty bad at gender, even when they’re great games. They’re still stuck in that boys club action movie mode. That said, Elika from the Prince of Persia remake is a good example of a female gaming character who’s not terrible, a whore, or psychotic. It should have been called “Princess of Persia” because I seriously doubt the Prince’s royal heritage in that game.

    Any game where you “create your own” normally demands some form of equality, but also opens up a whole different can of worms. Personally, I feel the fictional worlds would have more depth if, in fact, men and women COULDN’T do all the same things. They’d certainly serve more of a purpose from a feminist point of view.

    Games that do gender badly: Enslaved. Oh Miranda, I did send you an e-mail about this…

    • Miranda permalink*
      January 19, 2011

      Yes – you should do a post! I’d like to hear some games that do it well, as a very-much-only-partial gamer myself. Here are some that I think do gender a bit better just from watching my partner and friends play them:

      * Dragon Age – the dollmaker on this is pretty good, and you have the opportunity to pair off with high fantasy universe courtesans of either gender if I remember rightly! In fact, there is a male courtesan who is pretty beefcake-tastic, and I think you get to pick him if you’re playing as a dude or a lady.
      * Fable seems to be pretty good on this too.

      * Mass Effect – you can play as either gender, but I am given to understand that you can initiate romantic partnerships with female NPCs only? Is that right? I’m not sure. Basically you can’t be a gay male PC, I think.

      I think MMOPRGS are a different fish-kettle slightly, but it’s worth mentioning that I also managed to successfully make a pretty close copy of myself on City of Heroes. It was a *bit* idealised (okay, I have NO arm muscles at all), but I was able to be short, a bit stocky, and relatively curvy. Which was sort of nice.

      • Russell permalink
        January 19, 2011

        In the first Mass Effect, I believe you can be a hetero male or female, or a gay female. I’m not sure how it works in Mass Effect 2, given that I went “don’t want” about 30 minutes into it. OTT conservatives in America referred to it as “Digital Virtual Lesbian Rape” or something daft like that (it’s entirely consensual). To be fair, the person with whom you do it if you choose to is actually from a race of essentially androgynous aliens who just happen to look female (probably as a result of the need for mammary glands and some manner of birth… tube) and are able to mate with anyone of any species due to a totally different method of reproduction. Whether the game makers were trying to come up with some out there sci-fi space people or an “acceptable” way to get lesbians in their game I suppose we shall never know.

        Jade Empire was, I think, one of the earliest games with a doll-maker that allowed you to go gay as either gender. Not surprisingly, the same people made Dragon Age (still need to play it!).

      • January 19, 2011

        Mass Effect 2 does give an option for gay male pairings, but as with the first one’s female pairing it’s “masculine appearing alien”, rather than with another human crew member.

        Oh, and the only other two female characters with speaking roles I can think of in Brotherhood are Ezio’s mother and sister. The sister does get one moment of kicking-ass, but oh, she owns and operates a brothel.

      • Russell permalink
        January 19, 2011

        Games that aren’t terrible for female characters: pretty much any Final Fantasy (occasionally HILARIOUS for female and male characters in the early games, but that’s not the same thing), Kingdom Hearts (the Disney-ness of it is something they have to deal with, but they do it well), Metal Gear Solid (minor roles, Rose is deeply irritating, Merrill is cool especially in MGS4) Half-Life (the protagonist never talks so Alex has to tell the story), debatably Tomb Raider.

        Also, the Mario series. By now it’s obvious that Peach and Bowser are in a long-term relationship and Mario just keeps trying to break them up – it’s sad really.

        • Miranda permalink*
          January 19, 2011

          It looks quite solitary, and on the PC game you don’t see her much cos it’s shot from her perspective, but Faith from Mirror’s Edge is pretty awesome. (on the iPhone version you get to see more of her cos it’s third person perspective.)

          • Russell permalink
            January 19, 2011

            Re: Mirror’s Edge – shame about the game though!

    • Markgraf permalink
      January 19, 2011

      There could well be. However, they are probably rare.

      OH MAN, PRINCE OF PERSIA. I loved Farah in the first game, but they never managed to have her again in such an energetic, actually-having-a-personality way. And god – Elika. No, she isn’t a whore and no, she’s not psychotic, but she’s dreadfully inconsistent to the extent that she’s not a character at all, and what’s all this bizarre breeding/fertility obsession that’s going on? Was the whole game a pro-life metaphor for IVF? …Or was that just my reading?

      Haven’t played Enslaved, don’t intend to.

      I’d also like to take this opportunity while I’m typing this to remind readers that I’ve not played AC: Brotherhood yet – these are my frustrated first impressions. I’d like to do a dedicated pick-apart after I’ve played it… but this ain’t it. Yet.

      • Miranda permalink*
        January 19, 2011

        I’ve watched my partner play AC: Brotherhood**… well, bits of it. It’s a beautiful game and nearly gave me vertigo at various points, the scenery is so well rendered!

        It’s definitely the case that your army of international assassins that you send on missions can be either gender. They all have names and they all wear the same uniform with no “sexy” version for the ladies. In fact, they kind of resemble the first illustration on this post, if memory serves. However, they don’t talk. They don’t do anything except go to the countries you send them to. Oh, and they rescue you if you’re in a tight spot and summon them, I think? But they’re not “real” NPCs in the sense that they don’t actually interact with you in any way.

        The other women you meet are, I believe, Lucrezia Borgia (and sex, or sexiness, of some sort, is going to be involved with her, given the legends/history about her, that’s a given) and, as you say, Ezio’s tremulous and damsel-like ex-lovers.

        I… dunno if you meet any more? I’m not sure. It’s not a feast of representation, by the sounds. The name is, after all, “brotherhood”, although I don’t see that this should mean a barrier to women doing anything other than the roles above within the game!

        The meta-plot does have women in it, at least…

        ** That sounds really passive-girlfriend but it’s more that I don’t live in a house with a living room or TV licence, so there’s no console for me to play! Also I spend my free time running this site SO THERE, PEOPLE :D

      • Russell permalink
        January 19, 2011

        I disagree with you about Elika. Unlike most companions in video games, she’s actually useful. The rejuvenation thing isn’t about fertility, it’s simply about life versus death, chaos versus order, as I understood it. It’s been a while since I played it so I would need to go through it again from that perspective (sounds like a good excuse to replay a game I enjoyed).

  2. ZaraAudron permalink
    January 19, 2011

    Brilliant article. It’s a sad fact that in most games or films any ass-kicking female characters are over-sexualised, though the point could be made about any sort of female character. I suppose an argument in AS’s favour could be that the multiplayer chracter was a prostitute previously, that if she was from the female lead brothel or similar (like the one in ASII) she would have been further away from the controlling influence of men of the period so would have been more free to join the assasins. It’s a pretty weak point I know, but could be a possible in game explanation though it doesn’t explain why the character would continue to sex it up in an organisation with very little sexualistation.

    Contrasting that, there’s when you recruit your own baby assasins, they all have the same outfits regardless of gender (from what little I’ve seen of it anyway). Presumably these neutral women weren’t interesting enough to be anything other than NPCs, women are allowed to be as unsexualised as their male counterparts but only if they’re in the background, if they’re playable characters they’re only intersting to Mr. Cisgendered Manly McHeterosexual if they’ve got their boobs hanging out. Pretty strange as in games like AS or Uncarted you’ve got a rugged but handsome hero that you’d expect to be marketed towards straight women, but there aren’t any characters (playable or not,) that would be identifiable to most women. *sigh*

    You’d think that in the mystical work of comic books or video games that women would be on the same standing as men, the feats they do are so over-the-top for any person that gender could no longer be used (however wrongly) as a limiting factor, and yet female charcaters still get lumped with the traditionally femine powers, pyschic, fast but low strangth and hitpoints. It’s like what you said in yor Slat reveiw, the tropes for femle chacters only seem to be broken if the part was originally designed for a man.

    And there’s also the question of race, how in the first game where you play a darker skinned middle eastern man, the Animus makes him look like his white descendant Desmond, but by the second game the upgrade to the animus makes Ezio look like himself. It’s an interesting coincidence that this only happens when the past life is of a white man. Wouldn’t want to have the the playable character to look like one of those funny foreign types or those useless women. Because in a game about assassinating the sun, that would just be too much.

    Oh yes, and pin up Altaïr. Om nom nom.

    • Markgraf permalink
      January 19, 2011

      I’m aware, now, that you can sic your lady Assassins on people in the game, but these aren’t characters! They’re basically throwing knifes on legs. HNNNG.

      Race, yes. The animus in the first game basically has Desmond cosplaying as Altaiir all the way through – in what way would Altaiir, a Syrian fellow in the 12th Century before we had air travel – be white?! It’s Desmond’s face under the hood. I get immensely frustrated at The Whitening Of Altaiir. His actual face and voice aren’t shown in the game for, you know, in-game-explicable reasons (Abstergo’s animus just doesn’t have the technology, etc.) but can we not have him defaulting to white in all the fanart?

      But that’s my fanboy-ese looking-for-in-game-explanations for racial fail so that I don’t feel betrayed by my favourite game, which is awful of me. But yes; it’s crap. Everyone else you bump into in AC1 is of appropriate ethnicity!

    • ZaraAudron permalink
      January 19, 2011

      Sociological Images has some interesting (or disturbing depanding) articles on women in gaming:

      shows the way you can modify your character’s appearance, though if they’re a woman of course they’ve still got to be slim.
      Similar post about how female characters=boobs in

      and also some of those male pin ups you were looking for Markgraf. Whilst it’s meant to show that the sxualisation of women in comics is over the top, the fact that most people would find the images of the male characters comical in those poses compared to the female ones shows how ingrained it is that only women can be stockings and cheese and should be whereas the male characters are doing serious things like fighting and progressing the story.
      Also a link to the wonderful extra credit

      as they talk about women in gaming in general.

      • Miranda permalink*
        January 19, 2011

        This post by Andrew Wheeler over on The Post Game Show blog is interesting reading too. It outlines the beefcake/cheesecake distinction and also asks for more male pinup. It takes the position that male pinup has its own visual discourse and gives examples of what it would look like. Well worth a read, together with the comments, which I think pick up one point he makes and discuss it quite well.

        What Markgraf’s done here is present Altaiir in a traditionally “cheesecake” pose, which is a sort of double subversion – not only is he being objectified, he’s being objectified via a feminine pin-up approach. So as well as being easy on the eye for many people, I think that also highlights the disconnect between the often relentless cheesecaking of female characters (in Iron Man 2, we see Scarlett Johansson enter a shot arse first. ARSE FIRST) and the total absence of male equivalents – beefcake or otherwise – rather well.

        I think the recent rise of Filament Magazine, which has so far run “themed” shoots (werewolves etc) signals that the demand for “sexy” men, particularly in “geek”-colonised media like gaming is certainly there…

    • January 19, 2011

      “a rugged but handsome hero that you’d expect to be marketed towards straight women,”

      I always thought these type of characters were marketed to men, in the “You can be as cool as THAT guy!!” way. Because, you know, girls don’t play computer games.

      I entirely agree about the oversexualisation though. As an avid WoW player, the one that really makes my soul weep is Alexstrasza. Go on, google will help you see how the Queen Of Dragonflights and Aspect Of Life chooses to represent herself in humanoid form… yeah. (Bonus points to Acti!Blizzard for deciding to change her cape to a more translucent one, so you can admire her magnificence from all angles. Nice work.)

      • Russell permalink
        January 19, 2011

        Isn’t it in character, though, for an “Aspect of Life” (I assume this means some manner of avatar for the abstract concept of life) to be up for anything that promotes the increase of life, such as sex? I’m not saying it’s necessarily the right way women should be portrayed in games or a good thing, but it seems to me to make more sense than, say, Sinestro in a white Green Lantern costume:

        (it occurs to me that I may just have said something horrendously controversial. Ulp)

        • Russell permalink
          January 19, 2011

          I meant to say “more sense for the character, given what little I know about her” before I get flamed so hard Burger King could serve me as a Whopper.

          • January 19, 2011

            While I do see your point about the promotion of sexual activity to create the life, I just can’t shake the notion that she’s been used *just* as an excuse for T+A (and the inevitable cosplayers’ respective body parts, too). It could be a great concept if executed well. I personally find the WoW dryads beautiful, and their frailty and willowy appearance along with their lack of clothing (apart from a few strategically places strands of ivy) can be attested to both their cervidae bodies and their “classic” fae-like nature as protectors of the forests and the animals.

            Given the game’s history of sexy-fying NPC models relentlessly (see also: trolls, tauren*), I would love to believe that your suggestion is the reason for her attire, but I… I just can’t :(


  3. Caspian permalink
    January 19, 2011

    I think I disagree with a few of the points here.

    Personally I think for a game set in this time period it is very progressive.

    (It should be noted in the modern aspects of the game that one woman is in charge of the team and another is the tech expert. Neither are in any way objectified)

    As far as women’s characters during the game, courtesan is one of the few ways you can have a completely independent autonomous woman at the time, that sucks but it’s just the way it was.

    I would have loved to see some male courtesans walking around but I think that might have been pushing it a bit far what with it being in the “holy” city and all.

    There are female characters in the thieves guild as well. They don’t tend to stand out but then none of the thieves do.

    Apart from that you are able to recruit female assassin’s just as easily as men and they aren’t treated as sex objects at all. (except perhaps by me when perusing the game but that’s not the designers fault.)

    When it comes to the multilayer aspect I believe there are 4 women, one thief, one harlequin (unlockable I think more because she’s so cool rather than an afterthought) one smuggler and one courtesan.

    Assassins’ Creed Brotherhood is set in a period when women were extremely subjugated and while the game has tried to get around this a little, I think any more and it just wouldn’t be believable.

    • Miranda permalink*
      January 19, 2011

      Re: historical accuracy, I’m not convinced that’s the case.

      There was almost certainly an underworld of gay sex work if the developers wanted to go there (not a “historically themed” comparison, but gay sex workers do feature at least a little bit in DragonAge!), but on the “women in other jobs” front, yes, independence was scarce, but there are any number of plot reasons besides sex for a woman to be out alone:

      * too poor for a chaperone; merchant’s daughter on errands who gets “caught up” in the action
      * in disguise (there are certainly cases of women in disguise to the point that it is a whole trope. But if that’s not convincing enough, this is a game where you can run along the rooftops in a uniform which is, let’s be honest, about as stealthy as a wedding dress, so how realistic do we need to be?)
      * religious orders (in the preceding century prioresses had considerable monetary power and access to education)
      * rich enough to be relatively independent (perhaps an eccentric widow – the pressure to marry would be marked, but not necessarily insurmountable; see previous comment about realism in the AC universe).

      The sixteenth century may be the era of marriage-tastic misogyny, but it was also the era of (admittedly this is the UK, but…) Elizabeth I, Bess of Hardwicke, and the smuggler-pirate aristocrat Lady Killigrew. None of these women escaped their sexuality, affairs or possible marriages being discussed pretty extensively at the time. But they weren’t all sex workers.

      The Renaissance era’s playwrights wrote a lot of characters that weren’t sex workers. Lady Macbeth – very sexual, and the power behind the throne arguably, but not a courtesan.

      I really think that courtesans are one way to portray women with spare time, connections, and ability to cross section society, and they aren’t a bad way, but they aren’t the only way, and it doesn’t take much imagination to work around it.

  4. ellie permalink
    January 19, 2011

    To be honest though, how many women in 15/16th century Italy would have been able to access power any way but through sex? Its not like they can just choose to get educated, train in martial arts, run around buying weapons or join the army.

    I mean I totally agree about depictions of women in computer games (especially some of the still artwork) being absolutely atrocious but if you want to know why the bad girls are all courtesans I would have thought it’s because these are the only women to get a bit of a longer chain in that society. They’re already perceived as damaged goods and they don’t have the familial connections or social graces/responsibilities to uphold that other women do. They can step outside the prevalent culture and use this to their advantage.

    Also I can’t access multiplayer but I’m presuming the Sex Assassin is on that? Is that what she’s actually called? I mean that is pretty pathetic given that the game has already entered some level of retroactive feminism with the women in the game and being able to recruit them as assassins. However I don’t think its unrealistic that a woman, especially if she used to be a sex worker, might choose to make their target more vulnerable by turning on the charms or initiating sexual contact with him and then killing them. If you’re physically inferior to someone its a legitimate strategy. Still, given that she is meant to be a trained assassin there really isn’t an excuse as she would have access to mad fighting skills training.

    Like you I am really in love with the game though so that may be clouding my better judgement.

  5. January 19, 2011

    Great article. I sort of waver like this with the Metal Gear series. On one hand, they have some of the most genuinely strong and impressive characters in a game series – The Boss, who can cow even a 6ft+ lightning-charged sadist, Olga, who fights on even while pregnant and is both foxy AND has hairy underarms, Meryl in 4 becomes leader of her own squad, kicks ass and is generally awesome and competent.

    Then you have EVA. Oh, EVA. Although she was pretty cool at certain moments, she was essentially big-boobed wallpaper and there to provide the ‘femme fatale’ angle – the woman as temptation, the Bond Girl who seduces the otherwise single-minded hero.

    Mind you, MGS wasn’t afraid to sexualise the men as well as the women (Snake’s buttocks are the most lovingly crafted buttocks I have ever seen) and is refreshingly open about having gay/bisexual characters (Volgin, Raikov, Dolph, Vamp) and a main villain who is either gay/bi, or singlemindedly attracted to one of the main characters (Ocelot) making him one of the most triumphant examples of a smart, competent LGBT antagonists in any game.

    • Russell permalink
      January 19, 2011

      Wait what? Ocelot’s gay?

      I think Eva’s role was crafted in the way it was for the sake of parody. MGS3 is basically an enormous Bond parody in plot, if not in gameplay.

      • January 19, 2011

        Kojima pretty much confirmed it in a Japanese commentary (not that he needed to; Ocelot’s crush on Big Boss in MGS3 can be seen from the moon) EVA also hints at it in-game during some codec calls. I don’t know if he’s gay or it’s just the Big Boss effect, but it pretty much motivates everything he does from then on.

        I like to think EVA was a parody of a Bond girl and in some ways it worked, but I felt that some of the fanservice was kind of gratuitous.

  6. kaberett permalink
    January 19, 2011

    I think I found this post (and the original it’s spoofing) by following links from GeekFeminism. I think. But I’m not sure. But while it’s not relevant to AC, it *is* a nice illustration (hah) of the cheesecake thing.

  7. Elaine permalink
    February 3, 2011

    I don’t really agree with what you’re saying here. There’s plenty of female characters in Assassin’s Creed that don’t have any sex appeal. The multiplayer class is courtesans for crying out loud, of course they’re gonna be sexy. I mean, I would appreciate a female class that is less revealing all the same, but the generic female assassins you recruit in ACB’s single player mode aren’t particularly revealing either.

    And what about the characters Maria and Rebecca? Neither of them are stereotypically attractive, nor do they reveal much. Maria even takes the role of a man in a time when that was really uncommon of women. And personally, I think the guys are plenty sexualized as well, even though they may not reveal much. They have largely unrealistic ectomorphic model bodies.

  8. February 5, 2011

    I’m not here to argue but I think you missed some important female characters that were not at all a Sex Assassin. Ezio’s sister, mother and female Assassins that can be recruited. Important ones are also the Templar personas on Brotherhood’s multiplayer mode: the Smuggler and the Thief. These characters were far from showing the traits of female Sex Assassins.

    • Miranda permalink*
      February 5, 2011

      This post was actually written just as Brotherhood came out – took a while to post it because of all our Christmas features that went up in December! … so it’s not actually about Brotherhood in detail. Rather, it seeks to express some opinions about the franchise so far at that point in time (and gaming trends in general/changes we’d like to see in gaming, specifically via this franchise because we love it). It takes stock of ACII and hopes that things will improve with AC:B. Though it does level criticism at AC:B it’s mainly a general view of where the franchise seems to be going on the whole and hopes for where it could go next. Maybe it’s starting to go there with AC:B, but with only one woman on the poster in a group of a load of men, I think that the way the games are marketed isn’t exactly advertising the female characters’ improved involvement very clearly, so I can see why Markgraf took a relatively unoptimistic stance.

      There are some comment exchanges above re: the female assassins you recruit if that’s helpful!

      That said, as we’ve now been linked by Ubisoft Workshop Markgraf’s done an afterword post which picks up on some of the points you’ve made! That’ll go up next week :)

      We’re extremely thrilled that Ubiworkshop have responded to us – what a nice bunch of people!

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