#ACSisterhood: Out of the Shadows

“This is a tighter squeeze than the caves west of Siwa,” Bayek says as he squeezes through the hole in the wall. 

A hand reaches out, takes hold of his, and helps him through, and Bayek comes face to face with Aya. “We were smaller in those days,” she teases with a chuckle and pats her hand against Bayek’s chest. 

Aya follows her husband down the path, torch in hand, until she reaches an underwater passage. Diving down, she finds sunken chambers and passages until finally reaching the surface again. She withdraws a torch and dashes down a passageway to a tomb.

Aya of Alexandria was reportedly supposed to be Assassin’s Creed’s first female protagonist of a major game in the series. Unfortunately, she was shunted to the background because, according to (now former) Ubisoft creative leads, “women don’t sell.” This also happened to Evie Frye, who was made an optional choice in most missions of Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate, and Kassandra of Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey. The mentality ensured her brother Alexios was made an option rather than Kassandra remaining the featured player character. 

This is just one of the apparently numerous examples of the toxic and sexist environment that occurred within Ubisoft’s game studio for the past several years. Between sexual harassment and even assault reports, it’s not just the characters of the series who have suffered, but the women who work in the company too. Ubisoft, owned and founded by five brothers, has made some recent drastic changes in the French and Candian offices, firing the creative chief, global head of HR, and the managing director of the Canada branch in early July. But the change can’t stop there. 

Born of this need to recognize the systemic sexism that has run rampant in the series, came a movement in the gaming world known as #ACSisterhood, in which Kulpreet Virdi (@KulpreetVirdi) and Sebastian Dell’aria (@Memento_Gallery) drew attention to addressing these issues in Ubisoft and highlighting the incredible women in the Assassin’s Creed franchise. As the movement gains traction, Ubisoft studio itself is hearing the call and responding. The recent Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla “cinematic soundtrack” trailer featuring female Eivor is largely attributed to the #ACSisterhood movement. 

With each day, it showcases more and more of the strong women who have experienced varying degrees of being hidden away in the games. And the gamers supporting this will continue until the day when the women of the #ACSisterhood can step out of the shadows and into a light all their own.