Having never played any games in the Assassin’s Creed franchise before, I had a really interesting time playing Liberation, not only because I was going through the first-time player experience of learning the controls, but also because I was learning about the lore within the diegetic world of Assassin’s Creed. I played a bit of the game with one of my friends who is also taking this class and who’s also never played games in this franchise before, and both of us were a bit confused when the game started out with our Aveline’s avatar appearing in a cyberspace-ish area and an artificial female voice stating that a company called Abstergo has invented a video game that allows people to play through the lives of those from the past. At the time, we thought this part of the game was just setting up to begin gameplay, and that the strange and color space with the artificial voice wasn’t part of the narrative. However, after looking up some more information about the franchise and the game lore online, it was only then that I realized this cybernetic beginning was indeed part of the game’s diegesis, and the Abstergo company that developed the in-game “video game” referred to a fictional company within the world of Assassin’s Creed.
This realization made me reflect on how worlds within a game are presented to the players, and how the blur between the diegetic and the non-diegetic exposes the player’s assumptions about what counts as “in-game” play. I found it interesting that, because my previous experience with games presented a cohesive world setting within the narrative, I automatically assumed that the cyberspace was part of the game setup, and that the narrative in-game world didn’t begin until Aveline was placed in the depicted city of New Orleans. Players familiar with Assassin’s Creed would be aware of Abstergo’s existence within the diegesis, but since I was a new player to the franchise, the fictional company was assumed to be an entity separate from the storyline introduced through the company’s in-game “video game.” This experience has let me step back and reconsider what I believe to be part of the narrative within the games I play, and for any game I play in the future, there will now be an awareness in the back of my mind that the line between the diegetic and the non-diegetic is not always clearly defined.