Numerous Ubisoft developers wanted a female-only protagonist option for Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, according to an Ubisoft collaborator.
I was approached by one of Ash’s victims who showed me bits of conversations and confirmed something that isn’t quite out, but that won’t surprise anyone.
Just like for Syndicate, Origins and Odyssey, it was the devs wish that Valhalla featured a female protagonist. Exclusively.
— “Seiiki” Dell’Aria (@Memento_Gallery) August 4, 2020
Since 2015’s Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, each franchise entry offered the option to play as either a male or female protagonist. Prior to Syndicate, there were no female protagonist options at all. The choice between male and female protagonists will be present in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, which will release later this year.
Ubisoft collaborator and illustrator “Seiiki” Dell’Aria said he was approached by a woman that he claims was sexually harassed by Assassin’s Creed Valhalla former creative director Ashraf Ismail. She reportedly showed Dell’Aria “bits of conversations” between some Ubisoft developers that allegedly show “it was the [developers’] wish that Valhalla featured a female protagonist. Exclusively.”
“Execs blocked them from doing that and forced the team to include a male version of Eivor,” Dell’Aria said, “because a woman alone wouldn’t have sold, insisting that the marketing campaign should have focused on male Eivor.”
Dell’Aria pointed out the male Eivor is the predominant version gamers have seen through Valhalla‘s multiple previews. He refused to identify his source until the conversations between the developers illustrating the desire for a female-only protagonist option are publicly revealed, but says that he “believe[s] what they told me and showed me.”
Dell’Aria recommended that concerned and frustrated gamers should assign blame to company executives, rather than the developers, as it was executives who denied the idea of having an exclusively female playable character in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla.
Dell’Aria’s tweets also feeds the discussion of male and female protagonists in gaming. Although high-profile games like Horizon Zero Dawn and Control feature female player characters, there are more male protagonists than female protagonists in gaming.
The issues at Ubisoft are an extension of a broader problem in the gaming industry. This controversy, along with pervasive sexual misconduct in the Twitch and competitive Super Smash Bros. communities, points to a culture of toxic masculinity in the gaming space.
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