Video Violence: Assassin’s Creed 3 and a Forgotten War
Assassin’s Creed 3, the new and heavily-hyped video game from Ubisoft, is already getting a lot of attention for its gameplay and graphics. But the game, likely to be one of the year’s biggest sellers, is also a rare depiction in popular culture of the American Revolution. As Erik Sofge from Slate mourns:
When Assassin’s Creed III comes out on Tuesday, millions of gamers will be exposed to the American Revolution for the first time. (Perhaps tens of millions—Assassin’s Creed II sold more than 9 million copies.) What they’ll find is the most accessible reconstruction of the Revolutionary War era that’s ever been made. That’s because of the painstaking research and astonishing sense of historical responsibility that AC3’s makers poured into the project. But the game also stands out because it’s the first of its kind: Nobody in mainstream entertainment has ever tried to capture 18th-century American at this level of detail.
Whereas a steady stream of movies and TV shows about imperial Rome has given us a sense of what it was like to howl for blood in the Colosseum, the Revolutionary War is nowhere to be seen on the big or small screen. You can count on one hand the number of big-budget movies set during the Colonial period. Actually, you can count them on one Maine lobster claw. There’s The Patriot(2000), which focused on the Revolutionary War, and The Last of the Mohicans (1992), set almost 20 years before that conflict during the French and Indian War. There’s also the HBO miniseries John Adams, which won 13 Emmys in 2008 but wasn’t exactly a popular sensation. And for all its considerable merits, the seven-part miniseries didn’t have the budget (or the desire) to present the day-to-day of American life under British rule or the major battles that ended it.
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