Assassin's Creed Shadows dev calls out Elon Musk for "feeding hatred" in response to criticism of Black samurai Yasuke

Assassin's Creed Shadows
(Image credit: Ubisoft)

An Assassin's Creed lead has responded to criticism from Elon Musk over Assassin's Creed Shadow's inclusion of a Black samurai main protagonist.

For some context, one of the playable protagonists in Assassin's Creed Shadows is a samurai named Yasuke who also happens to be a Black person. People became upset over what they perceive as a slight against historical accuracy, and as he is wont to do these days, Musk chimed in with a pithy tweet claiming "DEI kills art." DEI in this instance refers to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

Assassin's Creed series vice president executive producer Marc-Alexis Côté was asked about this interaction in an interview with Game File (thanks, VGC), and Côté revealed that, not only has he seen Musk's tweet, but he badly wanted to reply but decided against engaging the controversial businessman. 

"That tweet generated emotions, that… the first thing I wanted to do was go back on X – that I had deleted – and just tweet back," Côté said. "And I just took a step back. I have a mindfulness app on my phone. And I did a bit of mindfulness to try to explore the emotions that this tweet created."

Côté went on to say Elon is "feeding hatred" and that "I had a lot of three word replies that came to mind." Ultimately, Côté decided that, "by attacking someone like Elon… I will not convince people about our point of view as a team."

Yasuke was a real-life historical figure generally recognized as the earliest documented person of African origin to appear in Japanese historical records. Although his life isn't well-documented, it's known that he was a man of African descent who served as a retainer for the Japanese daimyō Oda Nobunaga between 1581 and 1582. 

"We’ve got a super-mysterious historical character from which not much is known about," Côté said. "And for us, it was what we want in Assassin’s Creed."

Additionally, Côté said, "what Elon says is not the game that we’re building," adding, "People will have to play the game for themselves. And if, within the first 11 minutes and 47 seconds, they are not convinced of what we’re doing, we can have the discussion."

The reason Côté listed that very specific amount of time isn't clear, but it could be the length of an early cutscene in the upcoming Assassin's Creed game that explains a little more about Yasuke. "I was reviewing the game very recently, and I was like, 'the answer is there!' he said. "I just hope and wish that people can keep an open mind about this and see the game for what it is. It’s an Assassin’s Creed game, and I believe the best one we’ve ever built."

Assassin's Creed Shadows takes place in feudal Japan during the Azuchi-Momoyama era and lets players switch between the combat-oriented Yasuke and the stealthy Naoe. The open-world RPG launches on PS5, Xbox Series X, and PC on November 15.

Following historical error complaints, Assassin's Creed Shadows director promises the trailer's architectural inaccuracies will be ironed out for the RPG's launch.

Jordan Gerblick

After scoring a degree in English from ASU, I worked as a copy editor while freelancing for places like SFX Magazine, Screen Rant, Game Revolution, and MMORPG on the side. Now, as GamesRadar's west coast Staff Writer, I'm responsible for managing the site's western regional executive branch, AKA my apartment, and writing about whatever horror game I'm too afraid to finish.