The gaming community was abuzz last week with a particular controversy, one involving a female character named Tracer in a game called Overwatch. The reason being one of her victory poses seemed overly ‘sexual‘ to many.
The pose which had the character’s backside visible in a suggestive manner seemed to offend many sensitive gamers and they claimed it bought her down to being nothing but a sexual object.
One person in particular was extremely displeased and actually started a thread in the official Overwatch forums and protested how including such a pose for the character demeaned her.
Interestingly, Overwatch’s game director, Jeff Kaplan, conceded and agreed to replace the pose, much to the dismay of the majority of the gaming community.
We’ll replace the pose. We want *everyone* to feel strong and heroic in our community. The last thing we want to do is make someone feel uncomfortable, under-appreciated or misrepresented. Apologies and we’ll continue to try to do better.
He issued the statement above and many gamers were left distraught by it, claiming a game developer should not succumb to the opinion of the few and change its game direction as a result of it. It created a massive stir within the forums and formed two groups – one in support of the decision and another one completely against it.
Blizzard later clarified that it was actually planning to replace the pose themselves irrespective of the protests that followed since it also felt the pose didn’t really fit the character’s style.
It assured gamers that it had more to do with that and less to do with the reason that a few people on the internet took offense at a female character’s butt being visible.
Not many were convinced until Blizzard actually went ahead and replaced the pose via a new update with…a more sexualized one. This one has Tracer in a pin-up position that many discovered was a direct lift from the 80s pin-up girl artwork.
People opposing the first pose weren’t impressed and Blizzard just shut down all its critics by doing what they felt was right for the character rather than falling victim to the opinion of a few select individuals.
It sent out a pretty clear message that although it appreciates feedback and constructive criticism it wasn’t going to buckle under the pressure to portray female videogame characters in a particular way. Such censorship goes against the very pillars of freedom of expression and can restrict the creative direction a company wants its product to take.
The ones who weren’t happy with Blizzard’s decision to remove the earlier pose, seemed to have made peace as they realized what it actually did. And for the others, well it’s a videogame and might contain a few provocative things. Females are meant to be sensual. Deal with it.