Assassin’s Creed and Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity


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So, here’s the thing about space and time. There is no such thing as the present, at least not in the terms we perceive it. The truth is you can switch any order of events as long as they are not causally connected.

If I’m not explaining that well enough, I’ll let Dr. Cox take over:

It’s a truly lovely concept,and one that I don’t usually apply to anything because as a linear human being as I’m not really capable of understanding that in a meaningful way. I can rationalize it, but I will still live every day from one event to another, thinking that it is simply the order I must live it.

So, it was to my surprise, as I was trying to analyze how my game experiences of Assassin’s Creed differed from my friends, and if that can work scientifically, that I realized that I could actually conceptualize the idea of switching events around in a way that I can viscerally understand.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the series of games, the basic premise is that you are able to relieve the genetic memories of your ancestors. Or rather, your character Desmond can relieve his ancestor’s memories, which he does in order to uncover the whereabouts of powerful objects that have the potential to destroy or save the world.

However, reliving them means doing it differently for everyone. The main memories are separated into “sequences”, and must be played in order, but everything else is a free for all.  I, for example, may take a fort in the North Atlantic in sequence 3, but another player may do it in sequence 6 if at all. I might help out a fellow assassin on their quest in sequence 5, while another may do it in 2.

Essentially in Assassin’s Creed, if things are causally connected, you cannot play them out of order. But you can play most things in a different order than your ancestor did because it doesn’t actually matter when they happen in relation to one another.

Now, I know most people who play Assassin’s Creed would argue that it has nothing to do with physics. After all, there is no way Edward Kenway can jump from 400 meters up, land in a haystack, and be unscathed. It is definitely impossible Ezio can leap from even great heights, and catch himself with his hook blade without dislocating his shoulder.

But when it comes to space and time, it’s oddly perfect.

If you want to avoid spoilers from Assassin’s Creed II (the whole trilogy), then you may want to abandon this article until you play that. I’ll see you in six months.

Okay, for the rest of you.

The whole point of the Ezio Trilogy (AC II, Brotherhood, and Revelations) is that Ezio is a conduit to send a message to Desmond Miles, the person who is accessing Ezio’s memories. It’s rather quite sad, really. Ezio spends his life in pursuit of a truth that isn’t meant for him, and he has to sit idly by while ancient people talk to a man he does not know, giving him messages he can’t possibly understand.

As Desmond accesses Ezio’s memories, he finds out where important things are, like the powerful Apple of Eden –which Ezio just keeps losing despite being a master assassin. In the process of reliving these memories, Ezio meets the Precursors (an ancient race that died out long ago… kind of…). Knowing that Desmond is reliving these memories, they instead speak to Desmond and tell him everything he needs to know. Essentially, they reordered time to casually connect things that cannot be connected linearly.

In Assassin’s Creed, the sheet that we call the present doesn’t exist, much like how it is is described in our most current physics. Only things that are causally relate to one another exist in sequential order. In Revelations, we even have a sort of Assass-ception with Desmond reliving Ezio’memories who relives Altair’s memories which guides him on his path. Essentially, in the concept of time and space, you can switch the order of pretty much everything from the Crusades, the Italian Renaissance, and modern day until Altair, Ezio, and Desmond’s life become connected by The Apple of Eden.

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Which is why we can play the games in different orders. We can take out gangs out different times, and save children from factories at the end.

Who would have thought Assassin’s Creed could encapsulate Einstien’s theories?


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