How Assassin's Creed 4 deals with slavery

By Steve Watts, Jul 22, 2013 10:30am PDT

Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag takes place in the Golden Age of Piracy, giving Ubisoft a chance to explore an era of relative progressiveness from the scurvy sea-dogs. But it is still set in the 1700s, and that means acknowledging a few ugly truths. Lead writer Darby McDevitt explained how he plans to address slavery, a top that was largely ignored in Assassin's Creed 3.

"I wanted to treat slavery in the game," McDevitt told Polygon. "It's a very delicate subject, obviously. But I thought the best way to approach it would be to make it a fact of life. Rather than go for any intense scenes of brutality to draw in your sympathy, I wanted something that was more low-key, but constant."

McDevitt's comments echo those of AC3 writer Matt Rurnerhas, who also said "we're going to focus on telling it like it was."

"It's true that pirates were more egalitarian, but there was still quite a bit of bigotry at the time. Runaway slaves would often sail with pirates, but they were still not trusted with weapons, most of the time. I hope I deal with that in the script, very frankly," McDevitt added.

To that end, new protagonist Edward Kenway becomes friends with a former slave who has taken up piracy. McDevitt said he wanted to avoid sensationalizing it, but it's still there. "The books I read were full of horror stories, and I tried to work in some of those, at least anecdotes and stories, and make it a background fact of life."

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