Ubisoft has announced that they will be editing a piece of flavor text in Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla referring to a characters’ burn injuries following a complaint from a single individual that the words presented in-game were “absolutely unacceptable.”
In Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla, Eorforwine is a full-body armor clad Zealot serving under the command of the Order of the Ancients, an early incarnation of the series’ primary antagonistic faction, the Templar Order
The flavor text in question is featured in a description for the character, and describes how after being “horribly burned in a childhood accident,” Eorforwine still feels “terrified someone will see her disfigured face” and “relieves her fury with bursts of violence.”
It is this brief description that caught the ire of Courtney Craven, the founder of the “award winning games media outlet for disabled gamers, by disabled gamers,” Can I Play That?, who asserted that “it’s absolutely unacceptable to talk about facial differences this way.”
She added that “writers for games and otherwise need to do better.”
As to why this particular text caused Craven to take such great offense, they explained how their “GF, who is a burn victim and spent many years ashamed of her scars, was sitting beside me when I came upon this bit in the game and the look on her face…I was embarrassed that this was her impression of this industry I love so much.”
In response to these tweets, many fans of Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla, and video games in general, pushed back against Craven, arguing both that the text was not an instance of ableism and pointing out the absurdity of the ever growing list of real-world subjects that have been declared ‘off limits.’
@Dasukocho explained that “Her face is disfigured. That’s not “unacceptable” to say. She’s scared of people seeing it so even she sees it as a disfigurement.”
“I feel sorry for this industry if you cannot understand that this is what the character feels, and it’s not telling people how they should feel, or is a representation of people in similar situations,” wrote @Etherwinter. “It’s storytelling”.
@Wikimb speculated that if Craven “were in charge of games’ storylines all of them will be just boring-ass stories in which everyone are unnaturally nice to each other and avoid insulting people because viewers might feel upset?”
“Like….? Stories are there to evoke certain emotions…?” they concluded.
Despite both of Craven’s tweets on the subject receiving little more than a combined total of 337 likes and 474 retweets, it took less than six hours for Ubisoft to take notice of their complaints and assure them that they would be removing the text from the game.
“Thank you so much for pointing this out – we apologize for unintentionally reinforcing ableism through this language,” said Ubisoft. “We will remove this language in an upcoming update.”
After Ubisoft confirmed the forthcoming change, Craven took to their Twitter to taunt her critics, announcing that “in case you were worried Assassin’s Creed is the only game I want to ruin, I can’t wait to also ruin Demon Souls for you.”
“Might be time for the angry men to find a new hobby because this that you hate is the future of the games industry. You’re welcome,” Craven concluded.
As of writing, Ubisoft has not confirmed a concrete release date for the promised update.
What do you make of Craven’s complaint? Do you agree or disagree with the text’s removal?