How Assassin’s Creed creator Patrice Déselets became gaming’s cool history teacher

History loomed over the young Patrice Déselets. Aged three or four, he would meet his mother as she came off the boat from the French fort where she worked on the Richelieu River. The Quebec waterway had been a crucial path for French and English armies during the era of European colonisation, and the scene of several bitter battles. But for Désilets, three centuries on, these ruins represented a kind of reverse science fiction.

“The past is like a fantasy land,” he enthuses these days. “It’s so different. Where we are now, it’s as if it’s on a different planet. The 20th century just changed us, totally. But this is where I’m fascinated by us—we think we’re at the end of it. I like to look behind and let a player experience how we were.” It just so happened that, as Désilets finished up the creative direction of Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time many years later, Ubisoft’s marketing team was on the same dusty page.

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