There’s a new uproar following Blizzard’s Overwatch‘s post-beta feedback after a thread, titled “Overwatch’s Strong Female Heroes and that one Tracer Pose”, was posted by a user in the Battle.net forum, complaining about one of the character’s victory pose. The name of the character is Tracer.
Tracer’s real name is Lena Oxton, 26, and she is an adventurer. In Overwatch, she plays offense and her primary weapons are two pulse pistols that she rapidly fires at the same time. She has special abilities like Blink, where she zips horizontally through space in the direction she’s moving and reappears several yards away, and Recall, where she bounds backward in time returning her health, ammo and position on the map to precisely where they were a few seconds before. Her Ultimate ability is a Pulse Bomb, it’s where Tracer lobs a large bomb that adheres to any surface or unfortunate opponent it lands on. After a brief delay, the bomb explodes, dealing high damage to all enemies within its blast radius.
The comment, from a user named Fipps, received a mixture of positive and negative reactions. The comment highlighted Tracer’s positive features but it included this:
WHAT? 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.
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.
Getting art into a triple A game isn’t a small task, it has to go through an implementer, a team lead, an art director, and a creative director. This is a team effort. And I believe the team is responsible for upholding the great example overwatch can set to the rest of the industry for creating strong female characters.
I have a young daughter that everyday when I wake up wants to watch the recall trailer again. She knows who tracer is, and as she grows up, she can grow up alongside these characters.
What I’m asking is that as you continue to add to the overwatch cast and investment elements, you double down on your commitment to create strong female characters. You’ve been doing a good job so far, but shipping with a tracer pose like this undermines so much of the good you’ve already done.
The over-the-shoulder victory pose looked like this:
The thread was flooded with lengthy arguments for and against Tracer’s butt pose, including off topics and plenty of other significantly relevant stuff such as Blizzard’s art direction to Tracer’s character traits. But in the end, Overwatch’s game director, Jeff Kaplan, released a statement saying that Blizzard plans to get rid of the pose. “We’ll replace the pose,” he wrote earlier today. “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. Apologies and we’ll continue to try to do better.”
However, the controversy didn’t end there. Kaplan’s announcement elicited more negative feedback from the community saying that Blizzard gave in to a very minor concern instead of following their vision of the game’s development. Some feminists even pointed out that sexiness can be empowering to women, some brought up concerns about the current ESRB Content Rating which is : T (Teen), and there’s even a petition to keep the pose in the game.