(For a shameless plug, check out my Assassin’s Creed 3 review. Spoiler: it’s awesome!)
Sometimes I can sympathize with mainstream press for not understanding video games. The medium isn’t this mystical being only existing in the minds of children, but a little research goes a long way.
The Globe and Mail is a respected publication not just in Canada but on the world stage. It is known for hard-hitting, pointed political and economic analysis, but never for its video gaming coverage. Conceivably, I think, because only recently has gaming received reportage. As an example, the National Post founded the Post Arcade, its source for dedicated games coverage.
However, there is still this bleak awareness in common media regarding how video games work. The Globe posted this article yesterday criticizing Assassin’s Creed 3 for “distorting history”. The immediate thought is yes, because where Assassin’s Creed shines is through its historical reconstruction. Ubisoft’s unparalleled method of storytelling first put this series on the map, yet to blame the studio for that is dishonest and deceitful.
Shamelessly, the editorialist (who isn’t even mentioned) decries the game specifically for its portrayal of Native Americans during the American War of Independence. For anyone who knows the series, this is a blatantly misinformed stance because the war itself is simply a backdrop — the real struggle is between Templars and Assassins, a conflict since the dawn of time, of which Connor is a member of the latter.
And astoundingly, although the entire game takes place in the thirteen colonies, somehow this whole thing revolves back to the Canadian’s government decision to commemorate the War of 1812. (An aside: to celebrate British repellence of US forces 200 years ago is perfectly fine.)
That last paragraph, though, is amazingly foretelling of how childishly the media sees video gaming. The first sentence tries to rationalize the argument by saying AC3 “is just a video game”.
But expounding on that, the editorial asserts there is a “dearth of history instruction in our schools”. Traversing the high school experience, again, this is utterly dishonourable and tragically false. I don’t know how the writer could have any sense in making those accusations. But even more so, if the main criticism is how broken schooling is, would it not make more sense to write an “editorial” on that? To have education serve its purpose and not force students to turn to a factually incorrect, Mature-rated game to learn?
It is also laughably ironic how the writer brings education into the argument — by actually investing time into Assassin’s Creed 3, he or she would have learned some things.
Update: Quite hilariously, not due to this post, after the editorial made the rounds, #GlobeEditorial became a thing. Click on that link and bask in glory.
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