Assassin’s Creed Origins is facing a backlash that has seen its Steam page flooded with comments from racist trolls, berating the upcoming game’s apparent inclusion of black characters in a “raid” of its forum, forcing Ubisoft to step in.
When Assassin’s Creed Origins was unveiled at E3 2017, certain vitriolic corners of the internet began condemning the game for its inclusion of dark-skinned characters, claiming that it was historically inaccurate. In reality, with society’s current conceptions of race not even existing until the 19th century, it’s difficult to know how close ancient Egyptians were to matching our modern perception of the skin colors that are now differentiated between black and white people. While the hypothesis that ancient Egypt was a black civilization has been argued against by many scholars, it is also understood that ancient Egyptians were darker skinned than people we would now classify as white. This would also mean that the characters in Assassin’s Creed Origins could well have existed in ancient Egypt, though it hasn’t prevented bigoted trolls from kicking up a fuss.
Up until a few days ago, the game’s Steam forum was littered with posts referencing the racist “We Wuz Kingz” meme. This meme, first popularized by 4chan’s /pol/ (politically incorrect) board, was first used to mock the Black Egyptian hypothesis and has since been used to undermine black civil rights movements, predominantly Black Lives Matter (via Know Your Meme). The meme is used to berate the position of black people in history and mock black pride, with it now being used by bigots criticizing Ubisoft for deviating from the typically whitewashed portrayals of ancient Egypt we’ve come to expect from the entertainment industry.
The trolls initially surfaced during the E3 2017 Twitch stream of the game’s reveal:
However, last week users of 4chan’s /v/ (video games) board reportedly orchestrated an extensive “raid” of the Assassin’s Creed Origins Steam forum, which saw hundreds of posts surfacing either containing the words “We Wuz Kingz,” or featuring other racist comments. The end result saw the forum’s moderators stepping in, banning large amounts of users as more posts began piling in:
While the prominence of black people in ancient Egypt has been debated among scholars, Ubisoft has routinely outlined that while the series is based in real history, it is still quite obviously a work of fiction. As pointed out by The Next Web, Assassin’s Creed Syndicate even began with a note on diversity, reading: “Inspired by historical events and characters, this work of fiction was designed, developed, and produced by a multicultural team of various beliefs, sexual orientations and gender identities.”
If these trolls really cared about their history, and didn’t just see a few darker skinned characters in a video game before promptly soiling themselves, they should have also taken offense at the disproportionate amount of white faces present in Syndicate‘s depiction of London. As described by Louisiana Tech historian Bob Whitaker (via Kotaku), the last entry in the Assassin’s Creed series barely featured any reference to the British Empire, which would have seen a “whole host” of people of color walking through London’s streets. “Even in addition to the empire, Britain was a major international trading center,” Whittaker added. “So you wouldn’t have just had British citizens, British subjects, there. You would have had people of color from all across the world.”
The Steam forums still feature trolls attempting to litter it with racist remarks, and it’s imaginable that this will unfortunately continue until the game’s launch in late October. Ubisoft has thus far refrained from commenting on the debacle, and it’s unlikely to affect the success of Assassin’s Creed Origins, which is still set to be one of the biggest new releases of the year.