Archive for November 16th, 2012

Actor Noah Watts, who plays Connor in “Assassins Creed III”, is descended from the Crow and Blackfeet nations. (Photo courtesy of Muse Management, via NPR)

Connor Kenway is the half-Mohawk and half-English hero who sets out to avenge his lost village in the “Assassins Creed III” video game.

As NPR’s Karen Grigsby Bates explains, it’s a rare occasion to find a Native hero in video games. It’s the first time “Assassins Creed” creators have depicted one.

When they set out to bring Connor Kenway to life, they enlisted native actor Noah Watts to help.

    By placing the action in Colonial America during the Revolutionary War, (Alex Hutchinson, the creative director of Assassin’s Creed III,) and his colleagues at Ubisoft, the Canadian company that produces “Assassin’s Creed,” were give the chance to develop a Native American as the game’s central character. They christened him Connor Kenway.

    Then, Hutchinson says, they ran into one problem they hadn’t anticipated.

    “You realized that every Native American actor in America has been in Twilight,” Hutchinson said. “So you had to really search for someone who was a unique, strong voice who people wouldn’t be familiar with.”

    Enter Noah Watts, a Native American actor who wasn’t part of the Twilight cast. In the studio, soft-spoken Watts became one with Connor.

    “His native name, his Mohawk name, is Ratohnhake:ton, which means Life Scratcher,” Watts says of the character he plays.

    Connor is half-Mohawk and half-English.

    “I have known a world of peace and remarkable spirit, a world which was taken from me,” Watts says in the soft tenor he gives the Connor character in the game.

    After his people were slaughtered and his village burned, Connor began a yearslong quest for justice

Watts is from Montana and as the Missoula Independent reports, spent time during his childhood on the Crow Reservation.

As Bates’ story explains, Watt had to learn Mohawk to convincingly play Kenway.

    “It was very difficult, the language is very beautiful,” Watts says. “But honestly, that was one of the most difficult days.”

    A Mohawk consultant, Thomas Deer, was hired to coach Watts on the Mohawk language. He also made sure the onscreen details of Connor’s Mohawk life were correct, from how the village looked to what customs villagers observed.

    Making sure to correctly portray Mohawk life during the Colonial period was exhausting, but Watts and the Assassin’s Creed creators believe it was worth the effort to depict the authentic culture of a specific nation.

Jenna Cederberg