Blizzard Entertainment decided Monday to remove a popular female character’s “suggestive” victory pose from its upcoming game, “Overwatch,” after a single person complained on the developer’s forums.
They were wrong to do it.
For one, the pose is hardly risqué, as the poster implies it is, saying, “it just reduces Tracer to another bland female sex symbol.”
The shot shows Tracer looking over her shoulder at the camera. I guess the “offensive” part is the fact that she’s wearing tight pants that show the outline of her behind—but that’s nothing worse than what I see most high school freshmen wearing nowadays.
People can claim the pose is sexy, but I find it more playful and totally fitting in what a couple trailers have shown to be Tracer’s energetic, spunky demeanor.
Even if the pose is considered sexy, I don’t see the harm in that. The game is rated T for Teen. Kids shouldn’t be playing it and, even if they are, parents should be more concerned with the violence than a rather tame butt shot.
Furthermore, Tracer has proven herself a strong female character, something I love to see in games. But a female character can be strong and sexy. Those are not mutually exclusive traits. If anything, removing the pose diminishes Tracer’s strength by stripping away her sexuality.
“Why isn’t Tracer allowed to be sexy AND strong? Is it really such a negative message that a woman is being portrayed as both?” Escapist writer Lizzy Finnegan tweeted.
On top of that, Tracer isn’t the only character with a “suggestive” pose. As someone pointed out on Twitter, there are several male characters with … ahem … prominent crotches. No one’s calling for their removal, though.
It’s not just men upset with Blizzard’s decision.
“For the record, I am extremely against shaming women for their bodies and attire. I find policing a character’s clothing to be ridiculous,” one woman wrote on Twitter. “When you say Tracer was designed for dudes, you’re telling me that I don’t exist, and my clothing choices aren’t approved by you.”
“I am completely AGAINST removing the Tracer pose in @PlayOverwatch. Install maturity filters. Don’t censor. Cigars & guns = worse than butts,” tweeted Michele Morrow, a Blizzcon host.
The biggest blunder is Blizzard’s reasoning for relenting to the poster’s request. Game Director Jeff Kaplan wrote in the thread, “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.”
If that’s true, Blizzard, you might as well cancel the game now. I know plenty of people who are offended at the mere thought of cartoon violence. There are people who are disgusted with some of the game’s supernatural powers and characters. If you delete a pose because someone is offended, where do you draw the line?
I know you’re probably thinking I’m blowing this out of proportion. After all, the pose doesn’t add anything to the game. It can be taken out without subtracting from the actual gameplay.
But this is about creativity, art and freedom of expression. Blizzard is free to do what it wants with its game—including deleting a silly pose for silly reasons. But I’m worried about the downward spiral this could lead to, both for “Overwatch” and other video games. The fact that a single upset person can dictate what ends up in a game is frightening.
And what about the countless other people who are upset, maybe offended or, dare I say, even uncomfortable with the pose being removed? Will Blizzard listen to them in their effort to make sure no one is upset?
Somehow, I doubt it.
This article originally appeared on Jake Magee’s GazetteXtra gaming column, Press Start.