For centuries, an African slave who entered the orbit of war-torn Japan’s leading daimyo was an interesting historical tidbit. As of last week, he became the catalyst for the latest in the so-called culture wars.

On May 15, developer Ubisoft Quebec announced Assassin's Creed Shadows, an upcoming chapter in the long-running action-adventure series set to take place during Japan’s Sengoku (Warring States) Period (1482-1573). As is common to the Assassin’s Creed franchise, players will control a main character (in Shadows, this is Naoe, a female ninja) through stealth missions usually culminating in the violent elimination of a target. In a slight departure, players will also control Yasuke, a character based on a real-life African slave brought to Japan by Italian Jesuit missionaries and who gained the trust of warlord Oda Nobunaga (1534-1582).

For many gamers, Ubisoft’s announcement was their first introduction to Yasuke, a well-documented historical figure with a strong claim to the title of Japan’s first non-Japanese samurai. For a vocal minority, however, a Black protagonist of a game set in feudal Japan was a call to war.