Blizzard has responded to fan criticism by removing a user selectable pose in Overwatch that appeared to emphasise a female character’s buttocks. It’s heightened debate about how sensitive developers should be to feedback.
The multiplayer shooter game is due for release on May 24. One of the features is the ability to strike a range of victory poses, one of which — for the character Tracer — is pictured above.
Somebody using the name “Flipps” posted to a feedback forum for the game to take issue with the pose, arguing that:
It just reduces tracer to another bland female sex symbol. We aren’t looking at a widowmaker pose here, this isn’t a character who is in part defined by flaunting her sexuality. This pose says to the player base, oh we’ve got all these cool diverse characters, but at any moment we are willing to reduce them to sex symbols to help boost our investment game.
‘Flipps’ later added that the pose was particularly out of place given the strong portrayal of female characters in the game.
That prompted a lengthy debate among users, centering on two main points. One was the issue of whether or not the pose was inappropriately sexualized. The other was whether Blizzard should feel pressurized to respond to such complaints.
In the end, that’s what happened. Game director Jeff Kaplan posted to say the pose would be replaced, though denied it was a case of caving in to complaints:
We actually already have an alternate pose that we love and we feel speaks more to the character of Tracer. We weren’t entirely happy with the original pose, it was always one that we wrestled with creatively. That the pose had been called into question from an appropriateness standpoint by players in our community did help influence our decision—getting that kind of feedback is part of the reason we’re holding a closed beta test—but it wasn’t the only factor. We made the decision to go with a different pose in part because we shared some of the same concerns, but also because we wanted to create something better. 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.