Following extensive discussion in a forum post started by one of its customers, developer Blizzard has decided to remove a victory pose for Tracer, one of the character in their upcoming MOBA-shooter Overwatch, for supposedly being too sexual.
Tracer is a character used liberally in the game’s marketing. She’s a kinetic frenzy of motion both in-game and in the brief animated sequences following a round. Should her team emerge victorious, however, she can sometimes becomes a wee bit ‘problematic.’ User “Fipps” believes that the hip-flaring victory stance sometimes featured at the end of the round shows that “at any moment [Blizzard is] willing to reduce [their characters] to sex symbols to help boost our investment game.”
Within a day or so, Overwatch Game Director Jeff Kaplan responded with a brief confirmation of the pose’s removal. What followed was an internet furor that would reverberate through the Overwatch community, with users on both sides arguing vehemently for and against the decision.
Twelve hours later, Kaplan returned to the locked forum thread begun by Fipps, expanding upon his and the team’s reasoning behind the decision. “While I stand by my previous comment,” he said, “I realize I should have been more clear.”
Kaplan explained that his team was already dissatisfied with the pose in question, and that Fipps’ concerns merely mirrored their internal feelings on the matter. He described the decision to remove the victory pose as “an easy one to make,” not only for him, “but for the art team as well.” He claims that the team already has an alternate pose that they prefer and feel “speaks more to the character of Tracer,” but did not elaborate on why that pose had not already been used instead.
He reinforced the team’s creative position:
We wouldn’t do anything to sacrifice our creative vision for Overwatch, and we’re not going to remove something solely because someone may take issue with it. Our goal isn’t to water down or homogenize the world, or the diverse cast of heroes we’ve built within it. We have poured so much of our heart and souls into this game that it would be a travesty for us to do so.
Kaplan also took special issue with those who might pose the decision as “pandering” or “caving” to social justice pressure. While he allowed that some might disagree with their decision, he maintained that it was “the right call” from the team’s perspective. The team believes the game “will be just as fun the next time you play it.”
He ended the expanded response by unlocking the thread and welcoming further discussion on this and other issues:
If it isn’t, feel free to continue sharing your concerns, thoughts, and feedback about this and other issues you may have with the game, please just keep the discussion respectful.
It was a diplomatic response to a contentious subject, and reinforced the finality of Blizzard’s creative decisions. Whether or not it was a knee-jerk reaction to controversy, or long-standing internal dissatisfaction, both sides of the argument should be placated. The first because the ‘offensive’ pose will no longer grip Tracer like a slimy socially unjust marionette, and the second because Kaplan has asserted that the creative team already wanted this to begin with.
Popular YouTuber TotalBiscuit, meanwhile, released a video poking fun at the controversy by highlighting an even more ‘problematic’ pose in the game.
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