Gamers everywhere are up in arms following a Blizzard decision to remove a particular Tracer pose from Overwatch which sees the tomboyish hero facing forwards and looking over her shoulder at her butt.
One user on the NA Overwatch Beta forums made a case for the pose’s removal:
“What about this pose has anything to do with the character you’re building in tracer? It’s not fun, its not silly, it has nothing to do with being a fast elite killer. It just reduces tracer to another bland female sex symbol.”
Blizzard’s Jeff Kaplan, Game Director for Overwatch, responded by saying that they would be replacing the pose because, “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.” This sparked huge outrage on social media. Some angered by the decision, calling it a “knee-jerk response” or even “censorship” and others merely poking fun.
He later went on to clarify Blizzard’s position on the matter:
“As the game director, I have final creative say over what does or does not go into the game. With this particular decision, it was an easy one to make—not just for me, but for the art team as well. 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.”
The decision is made. The butt is being replaced. We all have an opinion on the matter, even if it’s neutrality. Here are our thoughts on the whole debacle.
Amanda Dunn, News Writer and Game Profile Extraordinaire: I am all about people looking and behaving however they want. I also understand that some people are growing increasingly sick of hypersexualization of female characters in video games; I am one of those people. Tracer is a tomboyish, combat focused character, and I’d rather see a shot of her, you know, doing combat focused stuff – or pretty much anything else – than yet ANOTHER butt shot of a video game character. That being said, a lot of people are overreacting over this, on both sides of the argument. At the end of the day, folks, it’s a video game.
Jonathan Doyle, Guild Wars 2 Columnist and Warhammer Expert: Here’s the thing about the butt. The original poster isn’t wrong. From what has been presented of the character a flaunting pose isn’t necessarily in character. That’s not to say that Tracer can’t grow as a character, that is also not to deny anyone their sexuality or preferences. Other characters with similar poses are still in the game, primarily Widowmaker. If it fits, it fits. If it doesn’t, changes are made. That is how game development goes. It isn’t a censoring or a removal or really a problem. The guys in charge saw some feedback and agree that they want to bring things back in line with what they imagined. Maybe people want Tracer to be sexy, that’s fine. In the end it comes down to that, Blizzard agree that something didn’t jive, not that it was wrong or immoral or abhorrent. Butts remain, glory to the butt.
Roxane Mollenkramer, Manager and Butt Aficionado: In my view the concept of political correctness is the core issue in discussion (U PC, bro?). Should a game company respond to demands to be inclusive? I think yes.
Let’s be totally honest, we all love gluteus maximus. We love butts; big and small, on men and on women. Even if you’re not a butt-person, butts are still good.
The butt on display is not the source of the outcry. At the core lies the unnecessary positioning which is the result of several decades of male-centric media and imagining of the female sexuality. The outcry (albeit in foul language from time to time) requires the rethinking of female posing, power and symbolism.
Now imagine a world where such a discussion would not be possible.
In conclusion, the fact that this heated topic has gone viral bodes well for online opinion forming. Not everyone will change their minds, clearly, and the trolls will have a royal feast, but the topic is obviously large enough to become subject for review.
Now to add my vote: I too am tired of the exaggerations. However, I believe that if a game in total shows a variety of powerful male and female (potentially even inclusive to other types) characters, to have one among them who feels sexy is not a problem. I too, like butts.
Dan Lewis, Sole Console Soul: Jeff Kaplan just confirmed that rather than being a reaction to something one poster said, this was an internal debate within the development team that came to light, unfortunately, with a handy target to take anyones dislike of the change out on.
I’m fine with the pose personally. I agree it doesn’t suit the character of Tracer, but it’s also not exactly harmful to it. It does sadly show both sides are still a little focused on the looks of the female characters in games over anything else, with the spark that started this particular trash fire suggesting the pose somehow “reduces” the character, a sentiment held, Admittedly in reverse, by many who are against the change. It doesn’t “reduce” her at all, it’s addition or removal isn’t enough to really change anything about the character. Thinking in any way that this is enough to damage a character is a far more worrying sentiment than anything else.
Shannon Doyle, Editor Bosslady: It’s a butt, on a female character. I have no issue with the original pose. Newsflash: Tomboys have butts too! And in an outfit that tight, everyone knows it. Did Blizzard have to remove it? Nah. Am I overly bothered that they did? Nope. Sex sells so I understand why the pose was there to begin with. Also, she’s a superhero, a genre that is already filled with sexualized ladies. Does that make it right? Eh, it makes it fit the theme, yes even though she’s a Tomboy. I personally will always lean towards the side of customization and loathe things being taken away.
Hannah Richardson-Lewis, European ASSistant Editor: Okay I’ll say it: this pose bothers me. I’m not offended, I don’t necessarily find it “sexual”, but I just don’t like it. It doesn’t fit Tracer’s zany, fun personality and to be frank I never liked the skin-tight leggings. They hug just a little TOO much and I feel like Tracer is more of a kevlar gal than skin-paint. Besides.. That wedgie looks like it hurts!
All in all, Blizzard say that they were already unsure about the pose and had something else lined up. This is not a knee-jerk reaction, it just helped them to make that final decision. Blizzard have the creative freedom to do what they want. Add or remove butts as they please. Just as all of us have the right to our opinions. There is really no need for namecalling here.
Ana Chilea, Intern and Blizzard Follower: As sympathetic as I may be with people who get triggered by different things for different reasons (we all have our own) I’m still not seeing why an internal decision should turn into an epic online crusade to save a butt pose, with both sides harassing each other about their beliefs and opinions – again. Personally I had no feelings: the pose looked cool but I’d probably spend more time looking at my match stats instead, while the barely-there butt didn’t bother me and its presence in-game would make no difference. Really, you should’ve seen my face when I saw Metal Gear Solid’s Quiet instead. I think no one would have even noticed if the damn thing just got changed without the background noise of the forum thread where this originated. In the end it doesn’t matter why Blizzard made the call. They make plenty of cuts and changes in their games that people don’t like on a yearly basis, a lot of them much more important for the actual games than a character pose. Sadly, you can never please everyone, but that’s not a reason to transform a less-than-minor problem into a news item, nor to turn against fellow members of your community.
What do you think of the Overwatch Butt controversy? Do you care? Think people were overreacting? Share your thoughts in the comments below.