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First Person

Assassin’s Creed III: An early view of Boston

Lead writer and Harvard grad Corey May set the eagerly anticipated video game in part in Revolutionary War-era Boston.

Corey May is behind the eagerly anticipated video game Assassin’s Creed III, out October 30. Yes, it’s violent.Simon Duhamel

I was born in Boston, but I grew up in LA. My dad did undergrad and medical school at Harvard. FROM PRETTY MUCH AGE ZERO I WAS DESTINED TO GO THERE. I studied economics there. I then got into a program at the University of Southern California that essentially trains you how to be a film producer, which is hilarious — I don’t know that there is some sort of magic formula.

We’re always excited at the prospect of people being inspired to LEARN MORE ABOUT HISTORY BY PLAYING VIDEO GAMES. It’s a fine line — you don’t want people to think this is a replacement for a history lesson, but more a gateway to the fact that history is not always a boring high school class. It’s full of incredible, exciting people, events, and places. Our goal first and foremost is to entertain, but we’ve found that people feel it’s A LITTLE LESS OF A GUILTY PLEASURE because it has historical context.


In previous Assassin’s Creed games, we’ve had the benefit of settings in places that are relatively unchanged. To walk the streets of Florence today is not that dissimilar to the streets of Florence as far back as the Renaissance. Going to BOSTON WAS A NEW SORT OF CHALLENGE. Boston during the American Revolution was totally different from the way it is today. In our game, the Back Bay is still a swamp; it hasn’t been filled yet. That wouldn’t happen for another 100 years.

Today, you can be WALKING DOWN NEWBURY STREET, then make a couple of turns, and suddenly you’re on a street that’s extremely reminiscent of that time period. The fact that you can still capture that sense is a real testament to the people of Boston, who clearly love and respect the history.

— As told to James Sullivan


Interview has been edited and condensed.