1. #11
    SixKeys's Avatar Senior Member
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    Originally Posted by Aisoreal Go to original post
    @Bmark94

    Thanks for your input!

    I understand what you mean by the meanings certain objects may or may not possess. It is all about subjectivity really - it can mean something or nothing, depending on the person that views it. That's why as a student performing research, I guess when I try to argue for something (like seeing a particular meaning an object embodies) I guess I have to backup my claims with academic references (and perhaps input from seasoned players as well!)

    Thanks again! Btw, as I am also looking for realism, do you think that AC reflects real-life or issues in real-life in anyway?
    AC2 and AC Brotherhood have a lot of commentary about real life politics in the form of glyphs (messages from the mysterious Subject 16). The in-game explanation is that the world has been ruled by power-hungry Templars for centuries, all the way until today. If you take away the Templar fiction though, it's obvious the writers were criticizing things like the current US justice system and the Bush administration (AC2 came out in 2009 and Brotherhood in 2010).
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  2. #12
    @Bmark94

    Thanks for your input!

    I understand what you mean by the meanings certain objects may or may not possess. It is all about subjectivity really - it can mean something or nothing, depending on the person that views it. That's why as a student performing research, I guess when I try to argue for something (like seeing a particular meaning an object embodies) I guess I have to backup my claims with academic references (and perhaps input from seasoned players as well!)

    Thanks again! Btw, as I am also looking for realism, do you think that AC reflects real-life or issues in real-life in anyway?
    AC definitely covers real issues in many ways. jdowny gave an excellent explanation. But there's some more id like to say about it.

    AC covers almost every type of worldview and faith throughout the series. AC1 focuses strongly on religion mostly due to its setting in the Crusades for obvious reasons. AC2 focuses on the desire for revenge(Ezio) and lust for power and wealth(Templars). ACB is again covers religion, but also the concept of authority. ACR covers family and the notion of a "Right" to something. AC3 is about faith in a cause, and the concept of "Freedom". AC4 is about the worldview of Pirates "A man can do as he pleases" and "a short life and a merry one". These are all worldviews, or "Creeds" that are explored in the series. It is about far more than one Creed, it is about all of them, and comparing them and showing the impurities in holding to only one.

    The Assassins Creed is ironic in that their creed dictates to avoid any creed. That "Nothing is True. Everything is permitted". To understand that nothing is true is to realize that no single creed or worldview is 100% right all the time about everything in any situation. The realize Everything is Permitted is to comprehend that even though none are true, it does not necessarily dictate that any one in particular is Wrong. It is the Truth we create for ourselves that forms our way of looking at things, and if we can learn to compartmentalize and set our own beliefs aside, accepting only the core facts as universal. For example if you believe that the feather in AC1 symbolized the staining of purity(with the white feather meaning purity of the world, and blood representing the blood spilled by the assassins to protect it) and I said that the Feather represents the good of the world being stained by the evil of the Templars. We could bicker about it for ages with neither side ever able to disprove the other.

    The Assassin way to view that conflict would be to accept the fact that nothing is true. That at the core of things the feather is just a feather, nothing more, and thus neither of our arguments are "truly" relevant. To realize everything is permitted we must understand that either argument is possible, acceptable, "permissible". It encourages an understanding between all parties involved. Not to argue over a particular viewpoint, but to transcend such basic things and minor details and interpretations. To realize we are both share the commonality that a Feather is important. That to both of us the Feather is a Feather at its face, and thus the fighting unnecessary. That if we could just agree on the basic principals that the feather is important and agree to disagree on detail we would have peace. Do you understand what I'm saying?

    Take the conflict in AC1 between the Crusaders and Saracens. The battle for the Holy Land. To the Muslims the Holy Land was the divine home of Mohammed, not to de desecrated by European invaders. The Crusaders saw the Holy Land as the divine land of Christ being denied to the peoples of Europe. What we would do as an Assassin to solve this is understand that either religion is just as valid as the other, they are both permitted. If we accept that neither is "true"(weather we actually believe so or not does not matter) we learn that The Holy Land, is just simply Land. No different from any other. And when looking from both views we see that it is important to both sides. Thus if they learn that the Land is special to both of them so neither wishes to desecrate it we could live side by side in peace while still holding our own separate opinion.

    It is peace through understanding. That is all the Assassins Creed is asking, is to understand all Creeds so that you do not hold one so superior that you treat others wrong. Thus cooperation and peace coexists with free will.

    This opposed to a Templar view of the world where they find this to be impossible, and thus free will and disagreement must be done away with, and replaced with a "new world order" of one agreed upon ideology, one supreme law, one global power, one government, One EVERYTHING. Thus conflict is removed and the world will have peace by process of eliminating the competing ideals. Which to the Templars is a far more attainable goal than Coexistence, and doesn't take into account weather anything is "right" or "wrong", or how people feel commonly about issues, only that it is One ideal and it reaches their goals.

    So the Assassins Creed is about far more than just Religion. It commands an understanding. Be it between Political Parties, Governments, People, factions, races, languages, cultures, any of the worlviews or concepts I mentioned earlier, and even just between two people. It is about finding common ground whilst agreeing to disagree to the means or details, thus having peace and coexistence.

    The is the overall point of the series and to the Assassin's Creed, and it applies to literally any real life conflict you can find. So yes AC is very much based in reality, and on top of that they are fairly good representations of actual historic events(with inaccuracies and not perfect, but still good)
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  3. #13
    Locopells's Avatar Moderator
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    Originally Posted by SixKeys Go to original post
    AC2 and AC Brotherhood have a lot of commentary about real life politics in the form of glyphs (messages from the mysterious Subject 16). The in-game explanation is that the world has been ruled by power-hungry Templars for centuries, all the way until today. If you take away the Templar fiction though, it's obvious the writers were criticizing things like the current US justice system and the Bush administration (AC2 came out in 2009 and Brotherhood in 2010).
    If you read Assassin's Creed: The Fall, it's obvious. In the AC universe, Bush only gets in because of the Great Purge (i.e. the wiping out of the Assassin's that were gonna stop him)...
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  4. #14
    @jdowny @Bmark94 @locopells @Sixkeys

    Thank you all (again!) for invaluable input.

    Having come to the conclusion that AC does in fact mirror real-life issues, what elements in the game do you think makes the message the game tries to communicate, successful to the players? Take note that I take the word 'successful' here to mean that the game has created discussions and debates about issues among players.

    What do you think was the underlying reason behind putting a Middle-Eastern character with a distinctly Arabic name as the main protagonist? Altair's religious affiliations and his view on God aside, do you think it was a deliberate decision by the AC team to somehow a) reach a broader market, as in not to alienate Muslim players (due to all the anti-Muslim games that are rampant in the gaming world) b) Challenge the now increasingly accepted worldview that Islam & Muslims (even Arabs) = terrorists?

    Does the way Altair is portrayed in the game affect your perception of the game at all? What about the settings as well?

    PS: Quick question,
    if I were to do an online questionnaire and distribute it here, do you think other players will be responsive to answer?

    Thanks guys!
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  5. #15
    Locopells's Avatar Moderator
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    Welcome!

    I think, simply put, the reason the AC games are successful in that regard is because they do mirror real-life issues and questions - what is truth, myth or religious doctrine, peace and order vs freedom and chaos - and are those are necessarily seperate from each other? All of that, and more, come up at one point or another.

    As for Altair - he is what he is, because the game is based loosely on the real Assassins - and that what they were, more or less. Anything else was just a bonus.

    Can say his portrayal changed my view of the game much - I didn't really know exactly what to expect the first time I played it.

    And yeah, I think some members here would be responsive to a questionnaire. Try me!
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  6. #16
    SixKeys's Avatar Senior Member
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    Originally Posted by Aisoreal Go to original post
    @jdowny @Bmark94 @locopells @Sixkeys

    Thank you all (again!) for invaluable input.

    Having come to the conclusion that AC does in fact mirror real-life issues, what elements in the game do you think makes the message the game tries to communicate, successful to the players? Take note that I take the word 'successful' here to mean that the game has created discussions and debates about issues among players.

    What do you think was the underlying reason behind putting a Middle-Eastern character with a distinctly Arabic name as the main protagonist? Altair's religious affiliations and his view on God aside, do you think it was a deliberate decision by the AC team to somehow a) reach a broader market, as in not to alienate Muslim players (due to all the anti-Muslim games that are rampant in the gaming world) b) Challenge the now increasingly accepted worldview that Islam & Muslims (even Arabs) = terrorists?

    Does the way Altair is portrayed in the game affect your perception of the game at all? What about the settings as well?

    PS: Quick question,
    if I were to do an online questionnaire and distribute it here, do you think other players will be responsive to answer?

    Thanks guys!
    1) I think what makes the "message" of AC so successful is that it's subtle. Alta´r's character arc is that of a person who starts off thinking he knows everything, and throughout his journey learns humility. At the beginning of the game he claims to serve the assassins' creed, but does not truly understand its meaning. The player starts off brash and clumsy like the impatient Alta´r who hasn't yet mastered full control of himself nor the art of subtleness. As the player progresses and the stakes get higher, learning to be stealthy and patient pays off. At the same time, Alta´r begins to understand that his old approach may not have been as wise as he thought. He starts off blindly obeying his master, but the further the story progresses, the more he learns and begins to question what is really true.
    This progression feels natural. Both the player and Alta´r are learning in tandem. The answers aren't spoonfed to you, but instead the player is encouraged to question the nature of reality. The Templars that Alta´r kills don't do bad things simply because they are bad people, but because they believe it will lead to peace. The Crusades were arguably some of the bloodiest times history has ever known, so it's understandable for characters in this world to strive for peace through any means possible. Both Templars and assassins have valid arguments on their side: is order more efficient than freedom when trying to create unity among men? Or should freedom always come first, even if it has the potential to create chaos? The game doesn't directly answer these questions, although given that it's called Assassin's Creed and not Templar's Creed, it's pretty obvious which side of the argument the developers fall on. But players are encouraged to question who is ultimately in the right and to judge for themselves what they believe. That, I believe, is the key to the game's success in communicating its message.

    2) AC started out as a Prince of Persia spinoff, that's why the protagonist was originally Middle-Eastern. As the concept evolved more and more into a new IP, some elements remained. I don't think the motive was to make the character of Alta´r more accessible to audiences - if anything, having an Arabic protagonist was quite a bold decision IMO. They still didn't dare to go all the way, as evidenced by the fact that Alta´r's voice actor was expressly forbidden from giving the character a Middle-Eastern accent. Alta´r's father was a Muslim and his mother Christian, and Alta´r himself is an atheist. I believe his character was borne out of a desire to show many different cultures and beliefs in the same game, during a historical period when all the Abrahamic religions were waging war against one another, and one man, who doesn't specifically align himself with any of them, is trying to uncover the ultimate truth of the world.

    3) I congratulate Ubisoft for having an Arabic protagonist and for using a time period that hasn't often been explored in games due to its controversial nature (religious wars). My only wish is that Alta´r's voice actor had been allowed to give the character a Middle-Eastern accent. It seems obvious to me that they made him sound American out of fear of alienating mainstream audiences. Considering all the other bold choices they made, they should have just gone all out and made all characters look and sound Middle-Eastern.

    4) I'm sure other people would be happy to reply to a questionnaire.
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  7. #17
    Thanks so much for the input Sixkeys!

    a) The way you have phrased your answer and opinion on this gives me a lot of insight. Indeed, research on videogames have argued that the way videogames have the potential to influence or even have effects on players is through the processes and the progression that players have to go through (via the avatar) in order to complete the game.

    b and c) To be honest, I was initially looking forward to playing a game that had a ME protagonist, but was slightly put off once I heard Altair speak. Somehow it felt to me that he wasn't authentically Middle-Eastern anymore, unlike his fellow Assassin brothers (and most of the characters in the game). But perhaps, Ubisoft does want to lower the risk of alienation - maybe at the time of its release, the gaming world (of which North American players constitute the majority, I assume) isn't ready for a fully non-American protagonist yet.

    Where do you see Desmond in all of this? In the first AC, it is almost his input and views are dismissible, because there is very little space to play as him (only when we're out of the Animus and only in the office), so we can't really gauge much from him. It seemed that he was only tool to gather insights from other characters such as Lucy and Vidic.

    In terms of the environment of the game and the setting that it was placed in, as you said it was during a period in time where Abrahamic religions clashed with each other. Do you think that this could evoke certain feelings with certain players (ie ones with religious faith, especially Muslims and Christians and certain ethnicitiies (European/White, Middle-Eastern). I mean some of the in-game dialogue Altair encounters in his missions, particularly from street preachers sound very provocative, ie "Curse the Christian King and his army of infidels" (not forgetting the Christian preachers who also have their own views on Salahuddin and the Saracens).

    As for the questionnaire, thanks for expressing your interest!

    Originally Posted by SixKeys Go to original post
    1) I think what makes the "message" of AC so successful is that it's subtle. Alta´r's character arc is that of a person who starts off thinking he knows everything, and throughout his journey learns humility. At the beginning of the game he claims to serve the assassins' creed, but does not truly understand its meaning. The player starts off brash and clumsy like the impatient Alta´r who hasn't yet mastered full control of himself nor the art of subtleness. As the player progresses and the stakes get higher, learning to be stealthy and patient pays off. At the same time, Alta´r begins to understand that his old approach may not have been as wise as he thought. He starts off blindly obeying his master, but the further the story progresses, the more he learns and begins to question what is really true.
    This progression feels natural. Both the player and Alta´r are learning in tandem. The answers aren't spoonfed to you, but instead the player is encouraged to question the nature of reality. The Templars that Alta´r kills don't do bad things simply because they are bad people, but because they believe it will lead to peace. The Crusades were arguably some of the bloodiest times history has ever known, so it's understandable for characters in this world to strive for peace through any means possible. Both Templars and assassins have valid arguments on their side: is order more efficient than freedom when trying to create unity among men? Or should freedom always come first, even if it has the potential to create chaos? The game doesn't directly answer these questions, although given that it's called Assassin's Creed and not Templar's Creed, it's pretty obvious which side of the argument the developers fall on. But players are encouraged to question who is ultimately in the right and to judge for themselves what they believe. That, I believe, is the key to the game's success in communicating its message.

    2) AC started out as a Prince of Persia spinoff, that's why the protagonist was originally Middle-Eastern. As the concept evolved more and more into a new IP, some elements remained. I don't think the motive was to make the character of Alta´r more accessible to audiences - if anything, having an Arabic protagonist was quite a bold decision IMO. They still didn't dare to go all the way, as evidenced by the fact that Alta´r's voice actor was expressly forbidden from giving the character a Middle-Eastern accent. Alta´r's father was a Muslim and his mother Christian, and Alta´r himself is an atheist. I believe his character was borne out of a desire to show many different cultures and beliefs in the same game, during a historical period when all the Abrahamic religions were waging war against one another, and one man, who doesn't specifically align himself with any of them, is trying to uncover the ultimate truth of the world.

    3) I congratulate Ubisoft for having an Arabic protagonist and for using a time period that hasn't often been explored in games due to its controversial nature (religious wars). My only wish is that Alta´r's voice actor had been allowed to give the character a Middle-Eastern accent. It seems obvious to me that they made him sound American out of fear of alienating mainstream audiences. Considering all the other bold choices they made, they should have just gone all out and made all characters look and sound Middle-Eastern.

    4) I'm sure other people would be happy to reply to a questionnaire.
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  8. #18
    Originally Posted by Locopells Go to original post
    Welcome!

    I think, simply put, the reason the AC games are successful in that regard is because they do mirror real-life issues and questions - what is truth, myth or religious doctrine, peace and order vs freedom and chaos - and are those are necessarily seperate from each other? All of that, and more, come up at one point or another.

    As for Altair - he is what he is, because the game is based loosely on the real Assassins - and that what they were, more or less. Anything else was just a bonus.

    Can say his portrayal changed my view of the game much - I didn't really know exactly what to expect the first time I played it.

    And yeah, I think some members here would be responsive to a questionnaire. Try me!
    Thanks for your input and your interest in completing a questionnaire!

    As you said in your answer, Altair was "loosely based on the real Assassins". That means he had a degree of historical relevance to him (as well as other characters such as Al-Mualim and Richard the Lionheart). Does this not have an influence over your perception of the game, the story, and its message? How about the setting of the game - it is one of the most well-known and well-chronicled historical periods in time, in locales that are even to this day faced with war and violence.
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  9. #19
    SixKeys's Avatar Senior Member
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    Originally Posted by Aisoreal Go to original post
    Where do you see Desmond in all of this? In the first AC, it is almost his input and views are dismissible, because there is very little space to play as him (only when we're out of the Animus and only in the office), so we can't really gauge much from him. It seemed that he was only tool to gather insights from other characters such as Lucy and Vidic.
    Desmond is the 'straight man' standing in for all the players feeling confused and dazed by the story. His job is to ask the "stupid" questions, like "durr, what are Templars?", in case there are players who don't know Templars from history. He was designed as an empty vessel for the player to identify with (similar to Link in Legend of Zelda, for example), that's why he has little personality of his own. If you wanted to take his role further, you could see him as a symbol for the player: Desmond is basically playing a video game, asking the same questions the real player is probably asking as they progress in the game ("what the heck is going on?") and learning to question his own reality, just like players are encouraged to question the world around them. At one point Desmond and Vidic have a conversation where Vidic tells him that Templars have rewritten history books to make themselves look better. This is a huge revelation about the nature of reality to Desmond. Similarly, a player might ask themselves if there are real-life parties who might be skewing the reality they live in.

    Originally Posted by Aisoreal Go to original post
    In terms of the environment of the game and the setting that it was placed in, as you said it was during a period in time where Abrahamic religions clashed with each other. Do you think that this could evoke certain feelings with certain players (ie ones with religious faith, especially Muslims and Christians and certain ethnicitiies (European/White, Middle-Eastern). I mean some of the in-game dialogue Altair encounters in his missions, particularly from street preachers sound very provocative, ie "Curse the Christian King and his army of infidels" (not forgetting the Christian preachers who also have their own views on Salahuddin and the Saracens).

    Speaking purely from personal experience, I've never met anyone who felt like their faith was being singled out for mockery in the first game. I do think AC1 has a clear secular message, but it's not after Muslims or Christians specifically.

    The street preachers' speeches are provocative, but equal-opportunity. They're meant to highlight the fact that every religion had their own propaganda and everyone was looking at the war only from their own perspective. In the Muslim city of Damascus they praise Salah al-Din and cry that King Richard is the evil one. In the Christian city of Acre it's the other way around. Alta´r is exposed to all these propagandists in equal measure, so it doesn't feel like the creators were being racist or favoring one religion over another. What I find interesting is that pretty soon you, as the player, grow numb to the same speeches being repeated over and over again. It becomes nothing but background noise. The way you find new missions is actually when your ears pick up a town crier who is spouting something different from the others. That's how you know he's got important information to share.

    The fact that you become numb to what you recognize as empty propaganda vs. perking up when one preacher stands out from the rest, to me that says something deeper about religious propaganda in general. The way I interpret it is that at the beginning of his journey Alta´r, just like the player, is still learning and all the propaganda he hears is new, but the more he visits different areas of the same cities, the more he hears the same empty rhetoric everywhere. It's easy to grow cynical of something when you hear it repeated over and over and nothing changes. It plays well to the game's general themes about religion and society. The most knowledgeable characters in the game are also the most disillusioned: Warren Vidic mocks the na´ve Desmond by suggesting that the history taught in books has often been tampered with by Templars. Al Mualim tells Alta´r that some of the greatest religious miracles in history were in fact nothing but illusions created by advanced technology. Alta´r himself, after much reflection, explains the meaning of the assassin's creed as "recognizing that laws arise not from divinity but reason". The game seems to imply that people who cling to religion and authority are living a lie and do not see the world the way it truly is, while freethinkers understand that only humans themselves are capable of changing the world for better or worse. With great power comes great responsibility, and all that.
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  10. #20
    Locopells's Avatar Moderator
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    Originally Posted by SixKeys Go to original post
    Speaking purely from personal experience, I've never met anyone who felt like their faith was being singled out for mockery in the first game. I do think AC1 has a clear secular message, but it's not after Muslims or Christians specifically.

    The street preachers' speeches are provocative, but equal-opportunity. They're meant to highlight the fact that every religion had their own propaganda and everyone was looking at the war only from their own perspective. In the Muslim city of Damascus they praise Salah al-Din and cry that King Richard is the evil one. In the Christian city of Acre it's the other way around. Alta´r is exposed to all these propagandists in equal measure, so it doesn't feel like the creators were being racist or favoring one religion over another. What I find interesting is that pretty soon you, as the player, grow numb to the same speeches being repeated over and over again. It becomes nothing but background noise. The way you find new missions is actually when your ears pick up a town crier who is spouting something different from the others. That's how you know he's got important information to share.
    SixKeys, you have it - that's more or less the angle I was working on, although rather less eloquently!
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