Blizzard will replace the ‘over-the-shoulder’ victory pose for Overwatch hero Tracer in response to a fan who complained it “undermines” much of the good work the game has done to promote a roster of diverse, strong female characters.
The pose, below, is one of a number that’s currently available to Tracer in the Overwatch beta and if unlocked by a player, is used as part of their team lineup at the end of a match. Assuming they win, that is. The pose, as you can see, focuses attention on Tracer’s butt.
“What about this pose has anything to do with the character you’re building in Tracer?” asked Overwatch fan Fipps in a three-day old post on Battle.net. “It’s not fun, its[sic] not silly, it has nothing to do with being a fast elite killer. It just reduces Tracer to another bland female sex symbol.”
Fipps goes on to argue that, unlike poses for heroes such as Widowmaker, “who is in part defined by flaunting her sexuality”, Tracer’s victory pose is out of character and has been included, primarily, to sell more copies of the game.
After a couple of days of fairly reasonable discussion, Overwatch game director, Jeff Kaplan responded to the forum post to confirm the team had decided to replace the pose.
“The last thing we want to do is make someone feel uncomfortable, under-appreciated or misrepresented,” said Kaplan. “Apologies and we’ll continue to try to do better.”
In the hours following that reply, this topic – unsurprisingly – blew up. Despite being temporarily locked, the original forum thread has now seen hundreds of replies. Some expressed support for Blizzard’s decision. Others voiced their disappointment that Blizzard had bowed down to what they see as a “SJW rhetoric”.
This prompted a follow-up post from Kaplan who clarified that although influenced by the forum discussion, the Overwatch team had been unsure about this particular pose for some time now.
“We understand that not everyone will agree with our decision, and that’s okay,” said Kaplan. “This wasn’t pandering or caving, though. This was the right call from our perspective, and we think the game will be just as fun the next time you play it.”
This isn’t the first time Blizzard has addressed concerns about the way in which it designs female characters. At a Blizzcon press conference in 2014, designer Chris Metzen talked about how the team was trying to improve the way in which they tackle gender with Overwatch.
“We’ve heard our female employees,” he said. “And my daughter tools me out about it. She saw a World of Warcraft cinematic of the Dragon Aspects, and my daughter was like, ‘Why are they all in swimsuits?’ And I was like, ‘I don’t know. I don’t know anymore.'”
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