By Victor Martisius
It’s clear that Indigenous Culture is starting to become more recognized across the globe than it has ever been since colonization.
Many things have happened to bring awareness of not only our culture but the struggles and injustices that we as a people have been enduring under the cover of media darkness. For example, Gord Downie of the Tragically Hip, took his band’s final performance on the world stage as an opportunity to address the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women issues. This isn’t the first instance of mainstream entities trying to bring Indigenous Culture to the forefront.
The widely popular videogame franchise Assassins Creed dropped their third official title Assassins Creed III in 2012. During this game you take control of Ratonhnhaké:ton also known as Connor, a half English, half Mohawk man who finds himself in the roll of an Assassin. Throughout the game you find yourself interacting with the wilderness more often than not to complete missions and progress through the game.
In the game it’s understood that the protagonist was raised in traditional Mohawk ways, which is hinted at through your mastery of hunting, capturing and traversing through forests. Before this game was released the Assassin’s Creed franchise was set in historical locations and time periods such as the Crusades in the ‘Holy Land’ and in Italy during the Renaissance. This game moves our hero across the pond to 1754 North America during the American Revolution.
Though the games protagonist is of Mohawk decent, the game is more so about the fight between good and evil represented between the Assassins, who are the heroes and the Templar who are the villains, much like the Jedi versus the Sith. Though the story is mainly focused on that struggle, the developers Ubisoft sought to include as much Mohawk culture as they could while staying true to Mohawk traditions. They consulted many people of Mohawk lineage to ensure that what was in the game was there by consent and with as much respect to the culture as they could offer.
One example of that is the scalp function. Originally there were rumors that your character would have the option to scalp an opponent during combat. Since the act of scalping is not a Mohawk way they made sure that option was not in the game in anyway at all.
Throughout your time in this game you are offered many cool opportunities to adventure the untamed wilderness of the west. This gave the developers chances to push boundaries with free roam technology. It is the first game of its kind to allow players to grab on and interact with diagonal surfaces. This is integral to the gameplay because the player spends much of the first quarter of the game climbing trees, jumping from branches and running through canopies. For a first-time gamer or long-time fan, it is an exhilarating experience to perform long combos of awesomely animated parkour through kilometres of forest.
At the time of this game’s release, it offered next generation graphics on the current generation consoles. The fog and water textures that were developed for the game offered an even more authentic atmosphere for you to enjoy while adventuring.
Perhaps the most important thing for the franchise’s longevity was the introduction of sailing/battleship mechanics. In the game, you get the opportunity to command a pirate styled ship, which became fan favourite moments in the game. This mechanic was a soft launch for the next release in the series: Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, a game that is based around that mechanic.
In summation, not only was Assassins Creed III ground breaking for videogames in general but allowed for an audience to be introduced to the idea that Indigenous Culture can hold its own as the main character and driving force behind and entire mainstream video game.