Ashley Johnson, the voice actor whose role as Ellie in The Last of Us earned her a BAFTA award, weighed in on Ubisoft's male-only cast of playable characters in Assassin's Creed Unity, chiding the publisher and its developers for not including women.
"When I saw the gameplay and saw that [in] their multiplayer you do not have the option to play as a female. I was like, 'Give me a fucking break!'" Johnson told VideoGamer.com in an interview on Friday. "It's 2014! How many video games do you have to make to realize maybe have an option to have a female be in there?"
However, her co-star, Troy Baker, cautioned that if this controversy means video games now include an obligatory female character, it risks tokenizing them and making the situation worse.
"I think that's almost even more disrespectful than not having women in the game," Baker told VideoGamer.com.
During E3, Ubisoft became enmeshed in controversy when Alex Amancio, the creative director for Assassin's Creed Unity, said playable female characters were excluded from the game's four-player co-operative mode because modeling and animating them in the game would have doubled their workload.
"It's double the animations, it's double the voices, all that stuff and double the visual assets," Amancio said. "Especially because we have customizable assassins. It was really a lot of extra production work." Ubisoft representatives held to this answer as other publications questioned and criticized the design over the week of E3.
Ubisoft later issued a statement, reiterating the diversity of the Assassin's Creed development team and noting the series has had playable protagonists who were men and women of color.
Still, Johnson said the choice made by Assassin's Creed Unity and its justification "did make me upset. ... There are a lot of females that play video games, and it would be nice to see stronger females in a game that are not just the damsel in distress, the love interest or she's oversexualized."