The sky-scraping plunge is one of the most overworked mechanics in Assassin’s Creed. Players dive from the game's tallest towers, but walk away unscathed whenever they manage to land in a pile of soft, dependable straw. Most gamers are too busy obsessing over quest lines to wonder whether this kind of high-diving activity is safe. Thankfully, a group of British scientists is on the case.

Gregor McQuade, Michael Walker, Lee Garland and Thomas Bradley study physics at the University of Leicester. In November, they published a paper in the Journal of Physics Special Topics called "A3_5 Falling into Straw."

Here's the abstract:
The video game Assassin’s Creed often depicts and encourages the player to leap off tall buildings into piles of straw/hay. This article looks into whether this is survivable, and finds the maximum height to which the depicted hay piles are safe to jump into to be about a 12-13m fall, and the max survivable fall height to be about 50m.

The students measured things like mass, volume, velocity, and cushioning force to create an equation that's far too complicated for me to understand or explain. Then, they used their fancy equation to quantify the dangers of jumping into a pile of hay by testing it against the game's highest drop: Holy Cross cathedral in Acre:
The height of the piles of straw in the game Assassin’s Creed is approximately 1.5m. Even using the most optimistic survivable impact accelerations, incurring severe injuries in the process, the leap off the cathedral in Acre requires a greater amount of cushioning than is depicted. The actual height the depicted amount of straw (1.5m) should correctly cushion was calculated to be a drop of m, giving a safe deceleration of 25g for a short duration of time. If the jumper is willing to suffer severe injuries (100g impact), the maximum jump height increases to 50m.

Essentially, they found that it's possible to survive the fall, but you're probably going to need an ambulance.

Students at the University of Leicester often pit science against video games. Last year, a group from the Department of Physics and Astronomy tested the legitimacy of those tiny planets from Super Mario Galaxy. They concluded that the planets would probably "explode due to the severe imbalance of gravitational pressure to degeneracy and coulomb pressures."

Thanks for ruining all the fun, science. Thanks a lot.