Patrice Désilets, the creator of Assassin’s Creed, on Thursday revealed his new game, called Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey, in which you play an ape. Normally, this would be exciting for gamers keen on experiencing something new from the man behind one of gaming’s most popular franchises. But some of the things he said during the announcement soured fans to the upcoming title.
During his live presentation at Reboot: Develop, a gaming conference in Croatia, Désilets was asked how he addressed the issue of gender inequality in game development. The game industry is under constant criticism by the gaming media for being largely male-centric—and gender diversity has become a pet issue for many in the industry, including game developers.
Désilets response was emphatic:
“If the candidate has a dick he’s not hired. I’m not telling the story of humankind only with guys. It didn’t happen that way. You need to make babies.”
Given the makeup of his team at his Montreal-based studio Panache Digital Games, he probably intended this as a joke. What’s certain is that very few people found it funny, and given the rise of social justice activism in video games, gamers criticized his attempts to virtue signal as in very poor taste.
“I just tuned in and he’s even mentioning Assassin’s Creed, and how this totally isn’t Assassin’s Creed. The entire speech is about him. He’s all over the place. Half the conference he seems like he’s under a huge cloud of anxiety. It’s very awkward,” wrote one commenter on VG247. “This guy reeks of insecurity. He’s been trying to sell the exact same idea for a decade now. I’m starting to see why he keeps failing.”
Redditors were no less forgiving. “I don’t know what’s worse, that he’s discriminating against trans women or that he apparently thinks women’s purpose is to make babies,” wrote user CyberDagger.
Although Désilets was clearly referring to men, his comments can very easily be taken for transphobia. After all, some transgender men give birth.
Critics questioned whether his “policy” (assuming it’s real) was in violation of Canadian employment laws, which is where his studio is based.
Per Canada’s Employment Equity Act, employers are required to engage in “proactive employment practices” to increase the representation of women, people with disabilities, Aboriginal people, and “visible minorities.” Under the law, employers are permitted to discriminate against demographics if they aren’t “disadvantaged.”
Just stick to making video games, Patrice.