Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, the latest entry in the Assassin’s Creed franchise, will feature the series’ first transgender character. Ned Wynert is a trans man who will act as one of the game’s quest givers in support of protagonist twin siblings Jacob and Evie Frye.
The choice is part of a general push for more diversity in Ubisoft’s games, according to creative director Marc-Alexis Côté. Last year Ubisoft came under heavy criticism for the studio’s remarks about including female characters (or, more specifically, not including female characters). Côté spoke with Eurogamer recently, saying that “inclusiveness is something that’s super important for us as a team. “We’ve made a good push towards diversity and how we approach different subjects in the game.”
The company has also updated the traditional Assassin’s Creed opening statement, which in the past read that “each game is designed, developed, and produced by a multicultural team of various religious faiths and beliefs.” Assassin Creed Syndicate’s statement now reads “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.”
As for complaints that a trans character isn’t “historically accurate” in the Assassin’s Creed setting–Victorian London, in Syndicate’s case–there are well-documented cases of trans individuals living throughout history, openly or otherwise. Perhaps more importantly, Assassin’s Creed also features time travel, secret assassin organizations, and various other novelties that don’t have to struggle against the historical realism argument. (And of course when it comes to diversity, historical realism isn’t necessarily the be-all end-all to aim for in the first place.)
There aren’t many trans characters in games to date. Last year’s Dragon Age: Inquisition was one of the first to include a trans character (Krem, the lieutenant and second-in-command of a mercenary company) whose gender wasn’t the object of ridicule. While there’s some concern that Ubisoft is doing so simply as a PR move after last year’s scandal, it’s a good step forward, and hopefully one that other studios will take note of.