RANGER AGAINST WAR: Assassin's Creed III <

Monday, December 10, 2012

Assassin's Creed III


The video game "Assassin's Creed III" has received glowing reviews from the tech community.  A USAToday reviewer called the detailed re-creation of 18th century America, "phenomenal".

"Players follow Connor, a Native American assassin who joins forces with the newly formed American colonies to fight off the British during the 1700's  The story dives deeply yinto Connor's life, from his family history to his path to becoming an expert killer.

"The structure of the game allows players to feel like a graceful assassin, leaping between trees or rooftops as they kill Redcoats with hidden blades, bows and arrows, tomahawks and even rope darts. ..." 

"Graceful assassin" . . . one can almost picture a Rahm Emanuel or Ron Reagan, Jr., in their ballerino days (more at Emanuel), but still not a gratifying proposition.  We are not Samurai in a slow-mo Tarentino conception or a Bruce Lee film.  Assassins are not graceful in the true sense of that word, and anyway, why would someone want to be an assassin, clunky or graceful?

Molina calls it "highly satisfying action, however, the reviewer fails to note that it presents an entirely erroneous interpretation of history, leading uninformed individuals to believe that assassins helped win the United States Revolution.  Adding insult to injury, Connor is a Native American, which some reviewers actually found to be an inclusive nod to minorities.  It is not; once again, the dirty work is foisted off onto a transgressive minority member.

Assassins were NOT a tool of the U.S. Revolution, a war won by a combination of conventional and guerrilla-type warfare.  A slick and mindless violent game does not change that fact, though it does play into the current fascination with Black Ops and extralegal strategies employed in the execution of war.  Combined with Presidents who sign off on the illegality, confusion is the name of the game.

Assassination is not a soldierly skill nor should it be a tool of policy, and games should not espouse this insane thought.  Meanwhile we stand by simperingly wondering how nut jobs like the Aurora, Colorado killer get their ideas for what they must feel constitutes "heroic action". In the inspiration for the Colorado case, the film "The Dark Knight Rises" has all of the archetypal trappings of righteous vengeance wrought by a wronged entity, reminiscent of the collective U.S. mindset apres- 9-11-01.

In the case of "Assassin's Creed", the very name of the game implies that assassins live by a "creed" -- something honorable and special to an elite group; this is an enticing concept for a marginalized, ostracized individual.

Assassins should not be heralded as heroes.  If they are, all that is good about America is lost.

--Jim & Lisa

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Blogger FDChief said...

Heh. I saw the ad for this and laughed out loud; it's that idiotic.

AND the truth is that the tribes that preceded the Europeans here in North America would have been complete fools to have fought for and with the colonial rebels. A huge part of what they were rebelling against was the British restrictions on how thoroughly the colonies could rape the tribes and steal their land. The Brits were frankly tired of paying to fight the wars the colonists started against the locals and were trying to pen their colonies east of the Appalachians. The Yanks wanted Injun land - less the dirty redsticks, of course - and so it was game on.

But I think that most civilians, and especially the young guys who are the target for this game, have no clue about the difference between and assassin and a special operations/direct action-type troop. Not saying that you're wrong to point that out, just that I'll bet you could read this word-for-word to some fourteen-year-old and get a rousing "Huh?" in reply...

Monday, December 10, 2012 at 6:47:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Assassin's Creed IV will take place in Texas, where the assassin is a free black man who fights on behalf of the downtrodden white minority fighting for 'freedom' from the tyrannical Mexicans.

It's going to be sick. First the Mexicans will be like "BLOW" and then you'll be all like "BLAM" and then they all die.

Great post. Spot on.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012 at 3:54:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous mike said...

Off topic -

A predecessor to the AK-47 found in Hartford, Connecticut:


perhaps Assassin's Creed can use it in episode V, 'Hartford Hitman' or maybe a Mark Twain knock-off 'A Connecticut Contract Killer Rescues King Canute'

Tuesday, December 11, 2012 at 12:58:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

i will write on the rifle in Hartford.
that article has so many errors in it that i MUST comment.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012 at 1:49:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Noor said...

As a young player of these games, let me come to their defence. AC3 continues a theme of conspiracy history that begins ins AC 1 about the Crusades not being fought between forces of religion but rather Assassin and Templars who are leaders in both sides. One is dedicated to liberty and free thinking and the other to absolute power trying whatever means to take control (religion, nationalism etc). Its classic conspiracy stuff.

The first is set in the Crusades, the second in Renaissance Italy, the Third in Ottoman Istanbul and the fourth in the American revolution. The common factor is all are times of intrigue and disputed histories and alliances. The main idea behind the games is that history is a history of war between the liberty loving assassins and the power grabbing Templars with little difference in their methods. Its kind of like the marxist idea of history of bourgeois vs the proletariat.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012 at 3:50:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Noor said...

I don't really buy into the video games brainwash kids into thinking war is cool any more than movies or other media do. It is the time we live in, 'surgical' violence is seen as the answer and academics and pundits continue to rattle off tired colonial narratives.

These include but are not limited to:

1) white man protecting brown woman from brown men,

2) a colonial differentiation between 'religious' and 'secular' natives or 'premodern' and 'modern' (implying that ideology motivates violence rather political realties [what is the diff b/w N. Alliance and Hizb-Islam?] and implying that military force is justified in repressing the former even if they are the majority. Hence US support for dictators promising to contain the 'Islamists' or a Kabul elite to subjugate the Pashtun majority.

3) Civilizing mission meant to make brown brothers little Americans and unsubstantiated belief that if they fight us they represent backwardness and anti modernity rather than fighting to defend local interests.

P.S on the modernity note as some one of Arab heritage I have always felt that the whole discourse of fighting the forces of irrationality and anti-modernity was ironically nothing more than a modern way of calling someone an infidel. No negotiations with the 'irrational', they have to be wiped out and the changed- they will not compromise in hatred of us, they have no place in our society.

If anything I wish the violence was not in the video games, but in the media reporting, if the dead and wounded, and grieving- the consequences of 'surgical' force were seen as opposed to defence spokesmen then maybe Americans could cast off their simplistic good guy vs bad guy ideas of what they are doing. They are already desensitized so they should see whats being done in their name without any problem. Americans continue to be wilfully misinformed as to why so many hate their country. They buy into idiotic narratives of they hate us for our freedom, or they are a minority of 'extremists' that can be done away with. War is politics by other means and local grievance motivate actors- it motivates Yemeni tribesmen to help AQAP because they hate their government, or for Pashtuns to join the Taliban seen as a force of Pashtun nationalism against a subservient minority dominated government. It is what motivated the Taliban to host AQ because it needed allies and AQ brought it funding from abroad, arms training and aid in its war against the minority conflagration that was the Northern Alliance.

This policy of playing whack a mole with the 'bad guys' (their families count too) plays good domestically but creates feelings of resentment internationally (it relies on local spies, challenges feelings of national honour and radicalizes people) and creates a situation of perpetual war. America is becoming Israel in permanent war against the 'terrorists' even if they aren't. It convicts people who express opinions againstitr for this as providing material support to terrorists. It turns on its own liberties looking for fifth columns. Any non-state actor is a terrorist if we want it to be. If you fight a government that is our ally despite its human rights record: congrats you are a terrorist. Perception is reality and even if (though I doubt) the majority of those killed in these secret raids and drone strikes are actually members of enemy organizations and not simply 'military age males' the fact is it will be perceived as a secret war of terror by a imperial power that must be stopped even if it means supporting the terrorists.

Sidetone- You describe the feelings of Americans in responding to 9/11 as righteous vengeance, these are the same feelings that motivated the hijackers and continue to motivate those who target the US.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012 at 3:51:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

I do not, nor have i ever accepted the construct of righteous vengeance.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012 at 12:10:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger FDChief said...

Noor: What I'm getting from your descriptions I'd sum up as "A series of games with a fundamentally silly backstory".

That's fine; lots of people love to play silly games. I think the problem comes when you combine this with the reality that:

1. Lots of people in the U.S. have little or no understanding of REAL history, and

2. Those people are, at least in theory, supposed to be the Sovereign.

So to me the pernicious part about these games is the way that they end up leaving the average 14-year-old with a completely spurious "knowledge" of history - and a complementarily goofy outlook on current events - based on these silly conspiracy-theory backstories.

The story of the American Revolution is one of disaster and tragedy for the native Americans. Turning this into some sort of Chingachgook Bond tale stands this history on its' head, and makes it harder for the average Joe Kid Lunchpail American to "get" that people like Native Americans - and Palestinians, and Afghans, and Syrians - might just have good reasons for thinking that THEY have "righteous vengeance" grudges against those Americans...

I mean, how much damage these games do is pretty trivial, IMO; the complete disaster that is the teaching of history in U.S. schools does WAY more, as does the moronic stylings of FAUX "News". But, still, another drip against the stone...

Wednesday, December 12, 2012 at 2:04:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Noor said...

Ranger, Chief, let me just say as an arab-american who grew up here post 9/11 how heartening your candid assessments are. When I was in school I would grit my teeth and bow my head when there would be discussions of 9/11 or terrorism, not only because of the racism and callousness involved (in discussing killing us hajis) as my suburban peers tried to prove their toughness and patriotism, but also because we are taught not to make waves in a climate of fear and either you are with or against us. There is a remarkable lack of self awareness that the foremost military juggernaut on earth could be hated for things it might do, so much so that Americans still are baffled as to why Afghans and Iraqis are so 'ungrateful'.

You mention the lack of teaching critical thinking to blame for this military worship rampant in society but I would argue that though a lack of historical knowledge (or how to apply it) leads some to volunteer to be cannon fodder, I think that the theories vaulted around academia do much more harm. Islamaphoibc narratives that rationalize anti-US violence as nothing more than the by product of a violent culture, Clash of Civilizations theory that views this conflict as one between cultures that is inevitable and necessary, proponents of COIN who imagine that if Americans don't think it is occupation than the natives wont too, continuing to believe that pro-American elite represent popular views (i.e Ahmed Challabi) and of course writers like Tom Friedman who say the reason America was in Iraq was to tell the terrorists suck on this etc etc.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012 at 11:42:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Noor said...

Ranger: I do not either, and am not saying you did, but was simply pointing out the motivations of the hijackers as they saw it. Most people who retain empathy instead of dehumanization and hubris would acknowledge that war is never righteous, but I don't know with all the propaganda about surgical strikes and kill lists.

Chief: I agree with you that we don't remember history correctly, especially the plight of native Americans and why many sided with the British. The people are sovereign in democracy but in the military worshiping republic we live in and with an elite and academia that cant put 2 and 2 together in describing motivation for anti US actors we delude ourselves and only ourselves. Obama went to Cairo, and the Arab world dismissed him because he had nothing of substance to show beside teleprompter rhetoric; he had come to Mubarak's Egypt to an audience that was handpicked and without any sense of irony propounded on democracy. In America we lapped it up as inspirational or called it an apology tour.

I could write a lot more, but I'll leave it at that. It was a pleasure exchanging views with you gentlemen.


Thursday, December 13, 2012 at 5:01:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

Thanks for your comments.
My undergrad degree is American Studies which is not my point.
My point is that years ago AmStudy was eliminated from the college curriculum, but Black and Gender studies remained.
I rest my case.
You are always welcome to comment on RAW.
The point is not what kind of Americans we happen to be ,but rather ....

Thursday, December 13, 2012 at 9:22:00 AM GMT-5  

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