Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, the twelfth major installment in Ubisoft’s highly-acclaimed Assassin’s Creed franchise, was finally released last November 10 to match the release of the Xbox Series S and X.
The game is set in 873 AD, and it’s all about the time when the British were invaded by the Vikings. As the player, you get to control the main protagonist named Eivor, a Viking raider who is in the middle of a conflict between the Templar Order and the Brotherhood of Assassins.
However, it appears that the title has already landed itself into a controversy despite the fact that it has only been out for more or less a day, and it’s all because of one line of dialogue found in the game.
The line of text in question was discovered by Courtney Craven, the founder of Can I Play That?, a highly-acclaimed games media outlet for disabled gamers by disabled gamers. There’s a section in the game that describes Eorforwine’s backstory, and this is what caught Craven’s eye.
The piece of writing talked about how the character was “horribly burned in a childhood accident” and as a result, she’s afraid that “someone will see her disfigured face.” That being said, Eorforwine is able to relieve her anger “with bursts of violence.”
After discovering this text, Craven took a screenshot and shared it on Twitter saying that even though they didn’t include it in their “Assassin’s Creed Valhalla impressions piece,” it’s still an important topic that needs to be talked about.
They emphasized the fact that it’s “absolutely unacceptable” to describe “facial differences” in that manner of phrasing. They then proceeded to call out game writers, stating that they “need to do better.”
Thank you so much for pointing this out – we apologize for unintentionally reinforcing ableism through this language. We will remove this language in an upcoming update.
— Assassin's Creed (@assassinscreed) November 9, 2020
In a follow-up tweet, Craven explained that their girlfriend, who is a burn victim, had spent “many years ashamed of her scars.” Rather unfortunately, Craven’s girlfriend was sitting beside them during that time when they came across the piece of writing.
Remembering the look on their girlfriend’s face upon reading the text, Craven states that they were “embarrassed” that the video game industry, which Craven loves, left this kind of negative impression on their partner.
The post garnered enough attention that Assassin’s Creed Valhalla’s official Twitter account came to notice Craven’s tweet. Ubisoft, through the game’s official Twitter, thanked Craven for calling them out on its mistake.
The developer also expressed regret for “unintentionally reinforcing ableism through this language.” To make up for it, Ubisoft promises to get rid of it in a future update.
Craven received a lot of support from Assassin’s Creed fans as well, with some thanking them for using their platform to discuss important topics such as ableism in video games, as well as for pointing this issue out to a big company such as Ubisoft.
However, there were some fans who disagree with Ubisoft’s decision to remove the text, which led to heated discussions underneath Craven’s tweet.
Whether or not you agree with Ubisoft’s decision is entirely up to your own perspective, but at the same time, it’s great that the developer is open to constructive criticism in this way.