For the first time since its creation, the Oscar Award for “Best Picture” went to a black director, Steve McQueen, for his movie about slavery: “12 Years a Slave.” While the years 2012 and 2013 had seen a noticeable rise in the number of movies focusing on stories about African-American history, good examples being “Django Unchained” and “The Butler“, the gaming world seemed to have ignored the topic in its entirety.
That is, with the exception of two games of a series – “Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation” and “Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag“.
“Liberation,” the fifth major installment in the immensely popular “Assassin’s Creed” series was released in 2012. The game is set around the time during and after American Revolution – between the years 1753 and 1783. The protagonist, Desmond Miles, fights the Templars to gain control of the colonies.
Intertwined in the storyline we find Aveline de Grandpré, a Creole from New Orleans who is the daughter of a slave and a white, French merchant. This was the first time a black character played a major role in a game.
In an interview by “NewsOne Now” presenter Roland Martin had a chat with one of the game’s creators, Jill Murray and the gaming writer, Evan Narcisse about the game and black characters in video games.
Murray said that she joined the game after the plot had already been set by the team in Sofia, Bulgaria. “They went south to come up with Aveline,” she said about the origins of the character.
Evan also said that it came as a “real surprise” when Aveline was announced in the game. The first sequels of the series were set in the middle east, mostly Egypt and Jerusalem. But, in this one they chose to go with Aveline whom, he said, straddles two worlds – black and white – an integral part of the plot.
He couldn’t hide his excitement when he talked about how she “shifted roles passing as a high society lady and disguised as a slave, she could cause riots.”
This allows gamers to also shift roles, with limited boundary of course, allowing them to get a sense of what it felt like to live in those times.
“The fluidity of identity was really great to make,” Evan said.