Female Representation in Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate

 

Women in gaming, whether that be as gamers or as characters, are often seen as an afterthought to the industry. Although, by definition of gaming being a balance of ludology and narratology, women are the higher percentage of the gaming population. Furthermore, the industry itself derives from the lanes of white men and much of the game coverage is based on AAA games that lack female protagonists. However, the minimal coverage is not an indicator that strong female leads do not exist in AAA games. For example, as a representative of historically-based gaming, the Assassin’s Creed series created by Ubisoft has made its mark on the gaming community with a reputation of creating engaging narratives within backdrops of past time settings. By allowing the player to explore and experience these time periods through simulation, gamers ingest historically based information regardless of its levels of accuracy. Released in 2015,  Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate is based in late-Victorian era London, near the end of the second Industrial Revolution. The character of Evie Frye, as a female lead creates an intellectual image for women characters in contrast to her brother’s own character

Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate follows the characters of Jacob and Evie Frye, twin assassins and main protagonists, as they break down cornerstones of organized crime delegated by the organization of the Templars in the year 1886. Firstly, as playable characters, Jacob and Evie can be used as a foil to discuss male and female representation in the game. In physical representation, the appearances of gender are obvious in their facial features, body structures, and minor details in their outerwear that are not overly distracting. They are, in fact, assassins first.  In terms of personality, both characters are presented in a one-dimensional manner to distinguish the stark differences between the two. For instance, the twins act in polar opposite personalities which translates into their assassination styles in addition to their approaches to their individual goals and overall joint objective. Jacob, as the male lead, lacked tact and reasoning in his decision making and would much rather rush into combat to fight at a close range. Evie, on the other hand as the female lead, was extremely calculated in her decision making and specialized in stealthing. Her gameplay tactics often involved crouching, hiding, and assassinations by luring her targets to her with a whistle and then hitting the target with a throwing knife. Later on in the game, Evie has opportunities for in addition to her set of assassination skills. Her strength in interpersonal communications gave her agency in venues where her brother did not. Evie proved to not be subversive to her brother’s reckless lead which eventually led to their decision of temporarily ending their partnership.

A disappointing observation made about the game includes Evie’s need for some sort of male guidance or companion when she, as a character, has proven herself capable in the field. Although they perform solo missions, Jacob is there in presence as her partner and the character played in the instances that they are together are often as Jacob. In the game, Jacob makes comments of her following their father’s path and ways of thinking. A fact that she too acknowledges in the game. Also, briefly teased in the game narrative, Evie and Henry Green, informant and acquaintance of the twin’s father develop romantic feelings for each other which are expressed at the end. The romantic relationship was not particularly relevant or necessary for the overall narrative. As a side note: this romantic relationship played no effect into the timeline of the Assassin’s Creed universe whereas Jacob’s descendant did.

Aside from the unnecessary inclusion of a romantic relationship with Henry Green, in conclusion, Evie Frye is a character that women can be proud of. The narrative of the game presented her in a way that is strong, full of wit, and capable of getting the job done. Her role has agency as a female character that is not overly sexualized in an industry where women are most often portrayed as such. Although the representation of women in gaming is often sparse and problematic, characters like Evie Frye change the game, the industry, and the future of gaming for everyone.

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