It seems almost random which game will get attacked for its lack of diversity. While it happened to be Assassin’s Creed Unity this time, it could have easily been Grand Theft Auto, Gears of War, Uncharted, Watch Dogs, and everyone seems to have forgotten how the Mortal Kombat series treats its women. So why was it Assassin’s Creed, a series whose playable characters have included an African-French woman, a Native American man, an Italian man and a Middle Eastern man, to be singled out for its lack of diversity? I don’t know, and the answer is honestly irrelevant.
Assassin’s Creed is not alone in its lack of female playable characters (forgetting Assassin’s Creed: Liberation, as everyone has), and if you want a game you should really be mad at for its harm to women, how about Madden 15, which will openly glorify domestic violence upon its release.
I’m talking about Ray Rice. For those of you who don’t know, Ray Rice is the running back for the Baltimore Ravens. On February 15, Rice was video taped dragging his unconscious fiancee (now his wife) out of an elevator, after allegedly assaulting her. He was indicted for the crime in March, but avoided prosecution by entering in a pretrial intervention program. Ray Rice then held a press conference with his wife where he apologized to everyone except his wife and had his wife apologize for her “role in the incident” (getting knocked out). Watch:
The NFL, which routinely doles out swift suspensions for drug violations, has not even said if Ray Rice will be suspended. Why the league has collated policies about drugs, with almost mandatory suspensions but is almost silent about the issue of domestic violence is beyond me. A player got suspended for taking fertility drugs to aide his and his wife’s pregnancy efforts. So the NFL will sooner suspend a man trying to have a child in a happy marriage than he will a man who abuses his spouse.
As someone previously employed at a domestic violence shelter, I take this issue seriously, and I care far more about Ray Rice’s appearance in Madden 15 than I do about not being able to play as a woman in what is already one of the most diverse franchises out there. When people play Madden 15, they can play through a season as the Baltimore Ravens, and run up the score as Ray Rice, with the announcers likely spouting off a pre-recorded praise of Rice’s running ability and all the good things he can bring to the team. “What a great guy,” they might say.
Just one year ago, Ray Rice was in the running to be on the cover of Madden 25. If he has a comeback year, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him in the running again, if this pattern of silence continues.
The issue with Madden at hand lies not only in what it shows, but what it doesn’t show. Here we are given Ray Rice, the star running back, allowing everyone to forget the awful crime he was involved in. He’ll juke, break tackles and dance in the end zone, and this whole knocking his wife out thing will just blow over. That’s why it might not be enough to simply remove or alter the voice lines praising Ray Rice.
They should remove him from the game entirely. They did so with Aaron Hernadez, the former Patriots tight end who was indicted on murder charges that are still pending. Understand that that means, although unlikely, Hernandez can be acquitted and he would still be out of Madden, off the Patriots and out of the NFL. The Patriots acted admirably in this case, releasing him from the team as soon as the charges were filed, saying anyone even slightly involved with these serious crimes has no business with their organization.
Yes, I understand that murder is worse than domestic violence, but I also understand that glorifying violence against women is still a serious offense. With drug use, other than the integrity of the game, a player is harming no one but himself. This is where the NFL needs to draw the line. It’s an opportunity for the NFL to take a strong, zero-tolerance stance against domestic violence, and it’s an opportunity for us, as gamers, to demand the games we play do the same.
But, by all means, keep petitioning Ubisoft. Remember, though, that part of the reason domestic violence is so prevalent in the United States is because no one talks about it. Make a statement. Suspend Ray Rice, and remove him from Madden.