Assassin’s Creed has hit the shelves to mixed reviews. Now remember what I’ve outlined about video game critiquing. By mixed I mean a crop of 7’s which in turn means sub-par; go run and get one with someone else's money. The hype for this game may have exceeded its true merit and I have found it interesting to follow this particular story.
Game publishers in general have a few tools at their disposal to ensure their advertising of a less than decent product eclipses journalistic – and I use that term loosely – impressions. Ad revenue can be pulled from a magazine or a website and this may motivate an editor to practice a spot of self-censorship. Review embargoes are not unheard of, whereby unfavourable reviews are requested – and I’m using that term loosely too – to be held back and published only when the game is in the stores. Swag, perks, and the free stuff that is so beloved to nerdlinger-kind can be withheld. Prior to Halo 3's release some privileged reviewers received an army duffle bag containing a militarized X-Box 360 complete with controllers, headset and the so-called Legendary Edition of the game that comes in a Master Chief's helmet to be worn by your cat! I’ve read things, questionable things from unreliable sources, we’re talking the very detritus of wannabe journalism; blogs, message boards, group emails... Places just like My Time. More than one has claimed that Assassin’s Creed has unleashed the fucking fury in this regard. These baseless rumours should be ignored by any person of reason, of course. I however do not count myself in that group.
Disgruntled Employee or Beacon of the Hidden Truth?
Look to the lovely young lady above. This is Ms. Jade Raymond and she is the producer for Assassin’s Creed. Ms. Raymond received her computer science degree at McGill and has previously worked for Sony and EA before moving to Ubisoft. Her charisma landed her a gig as a host on the Electric Playground video game review show. I want to make a couple things clear at this point. I am not stalking Jade Raymond, that job seems to be taken by whoever's running her fan website. Also, my journalistic fact-finding skills are bush-league at best. How then do I know so much about Jade? How do I know more about Jade Raymond than video game developers that I have personally interviewed? Understand this; In the two year-plus long run-up to the release of Assassin's Creed, if I were to select a word describing Jade Raymond's entrance into my life it would be UNAVOIDABLE. Put her name in google and there you will find a teeth-whitening shit-ton of pictures and print. At first I thought this was because she has appeared on somewhat obscure cable television but her relationship with Assassin’s Creed; one of the most anticipated titles of this console generation thus far, is what is mentioned over and over again.
I’m going to assume that Ms. Raymond is fantastic at her job as are all the other women who work in video game entertainment. That’s not what this is about at all. I would however question the integrity of any company who pushes their game with the good looks of an employee and this seems to be the case with Assassin’s Creed. I’ve listened to lengthy narrations from the likes of Ken Levine of the phenomenal Bioshock or Gabe Newell’s ruminations on the flawless Half-Life, but I have no idea what they look like and if I google their images I don’t get the thousands of sunny snapshots that greet me when I do the same with Jade.
Hey I get it, she’s a great looking girl and gamers are… well… you know what they say. Why wouldn’t Ubisoft take the initiative and thrust her into the spotlight, to become the face of the game? No, shut up, I'll answer; perhaps because it takes the focus off the game, it takes it way off and when you marry this with a multi-million dollar advertisement campaign, an anti-journalistic psy-op, and no playable demo you get what this release looks to have become; the disingenuous foisting of a so-so product on a bamboozled customer base. Maybe it's not fair that Jade can't hype her game without drawing these kinds of analysis whereas guys like Cliffy B. of Gears of War or Hideo Kojima of Metal Gear don't, but (aside from the fact both Cliff and Kojima are associated with wicked games and success trumphs all) the SECOND fact of the matter is we live in a world where chicks in bathing suits sell beer. Do you know what sells beer to me? IT'S BEER! Marketing people however leave no stone unturned. If there's a fucking idiot out there who needs a chick in a bathing suit to remind him that beer in Lakota means awesome-sauce they'll make a commerical. Let us join hands and universally agree that the masters of Ubisoft, they know this too. They're french! They practically invented kissing!
Ubisoft needs to do some soul searching between the torrent of Tomless, Clancyless, Tom Clancy titles they crank out; do they want to provide a quality product to valued customers or do they want to make half-assed games and then work hard to deceive people? Ubisoft has been both kinds of companies but every time they eschew Jeckle in favour of Hyde they further corrupt their own corporate culture. Developers of lacklustre games only learn to make more lacklustre games. A marketing department with a penchant for deception and punitive action is only going to get more detached from the truth as the games go by. We are creatures of habit and we tend to fall into familiar, previously-established patterns.
Scroll down and look at the picture. It says at least a thousand words...
This picture disturbs me. She’s on display for fuck sakes! What the hell kind of a team photo is that? The shot has a Gwen Stefani/No Doubt vibe. Ms. Raymond works with these people and I cannot understand what would make a person of good judgement and character agree to be captured like this. With regards to this whole topic that picture is the only blame I lay at Ms. Raymond's feet. It's understandable that some of this episode may have gone to her head. It's barely a sin and if I haven't been clear in my writing the focus of my distain is the crafty exploitation that Ubisoft enacted. This is me being telepathic; there was once an Ubisoft boardroom meeting and Jade's good genetics was mentioned, professionally.
So I guess I'm not alone in not trusting Ubisoft on this one.
The plot, it thickens. The good people at Something Awful posted some photoshopped pornography and a comic crafted by the esteemed Chugworth Academy. I wasn't fast enough to catch the nudey stuff but the comic involved Ms. Raymond performing fellatio on young boys who between moaning and groaning promised to purchase the game. Lovely. These images were predictably considered internet polonium and they are no longer to be found... for now. I sincerely hope Jade doesn't feel too banged up by this should she have seen the material in question. The punchline for photoshop porn is always the pan-drippings who waste time doing such things. The comic was well drawn but not especially cutting or witty. It's not like she got her ass reamed by the boys at Penny Arcade, which if you're not into internet comics means it's not like Jade was targeted by the likes of Matt Stone and Trey Parker from South Park... If you don't get THAT reference then I have to ask you what you think you're doing reading my blog? Seriously, I'm sure I wouldn't like you very much and so you should just fuck away before I put a page counter on this thing and find out where you live... Page counters can do that, right?
What the Chugworth (such a great name) comic was in all its blunt obviousness was a pretty succinct social commentary on how Ubisoft is attempting to pimp their property, breathing and otherwise. Naturally Ubisoft's lawyers sent the webmaster at Something Awful a publicly released 'cease and desist - slash - free P.R. stunt' type letter . Trust me it's lawyer-speak and thus not worth your time. The Something Awful response however is another matter and I'll leave you with that. So long as Ubisoft believes this geek-strength shit-storm might sell Assassin's Creeds it won't go away so I might give an update if the comment section tells me there is a person or two who cares. Seriously people, I'm lonely and getting a little self-conscious. Say hello... Say anything. Say you, say me, say it together... That's the way it should be.
From: Rich "Lowtax" Kyanka (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Sent: Thursday, November 15, 2007 9:06 PM
To: 'Anderson, David'
Cc: A BUNCH OF FRENCHIES
Subject: RE: NOTICE: Infringement of ASSASSIN'S CREED Mark and Jade Raymond's Personal, Privacy, and Publicity Rights
Please let it be known that hereforth I have read the express mail and email sent thereforth by Famous Lawyer David Anderson of the Famous Lawyer Law Business of Nixon Peabody LLP, and furthermore a declaration shall be expressed on the part of Internet User Rich “Lowtax” Kyanka that thatforth herethrough I have conducted rigorous tests implemented through a vigorous barrage of legal studies, and furthermore hitherthrough these rigorous tests have therefore proven Famous Lawyer David Anderson of the Famous Lawyer Law Business of Nixon Peabody LLP shall be recognized as a man of the fag persuasion.
Pursuant to the United Dairy Council
Rich “Lowtax” Kyanka