Overwatch has become a phenomenon among the FPS genre. It has brought in gamers from all walks that may or may not have enjoyed FPS titles in a competitive means until now. As one of the most-played games, the game is a critical and commercial success for major publisher Blizzard, but with all of that success comes a bit of criticism. You may be familiar with Tracer's "butt" pose that required the company to remove the original stance from Tracer's line-up. Irony is easy since it was just moved over to Widowmaker. Yup it's still in the game.
The game has now been met with its second flag for cause for editing. As of this weekend, Rajan Zed - Religious statesman and president of the Universal Society of Hinduism - has requested that Blizzard remove the skin completely from the game. His reason? He believes it trivializes their highly revered goddess by the name of Devi. (Source: Kotaku)
If you look into it? Her skin is a recolor of Symettra that incorporates pieces of Hinduism with Kali's famed skull decor on her hip, the blue skin, and of course a few touches of Devi. The Beauty of all this? The Skin has been so carefully crafted to the point one can tell the artists behind this skin put a lot of time, love, and passion into it. It's probably one of the BEST skins in the game to be quite frank, but it has ruffled a few feathers on this leader.
Rajan Zed Has Done This Before With Smite
For a bit of background on Mr. Zed, this isn't the first time he's actually requested something of this sort. He did target Smite and requested that all Hindu deities removed from the famed Hi-Rez title as well. Well that wouldn't be fair at all, now would it? Smite portrays Gods and Goddesses from all pantheons except for Christian, Islamic, Judaism, and so on. PC Gamer actually has the break down upon his request in regards to this.
However, his vision is a bit skewed when it comes to the skins for each character or what Overwatch - as a whole - is truly about. So before we point fingers and get nasty about what "insults" someone - lets take a look at what makes Overwatch's use of skins actually perfect and could inspire a turn of curiosity. As Winston says in game - "Imagination is the essence of discovery." Overwatch is about creativity and diversity, not about cultural shaming or degradation.
The unique part of Overwatch isn't the fact the game is just a fictional title, but it's also the fact that each character has their own unique nationality. Each comes from a very diverse and unique cultural setting within real-world locales. While many of these are fictionally crafted, their regions are very true, and creatively crafted. So lets take a look at the characters and their nationality just for a moment before we get all worked up. While I'd love to use a photo to cover all this, many of you are probably familiar with the game by now and remember their faces. For those not? Definitely a worthwhile lookup.
- Torbjörn - Swedden
- Symettra - India
- Genji - Japan
- Bastion - Unkown
- Zenyatta - Nepal
- Winston - The Moon (Quite literally)
- Mercy - Switzerland
- Lucio - Brazil
- Zarya - Russia
- Roadhog - Australia
- Zenyatta - Nepal
- Pharah - Egypt
- Tracer - England
- Reaper/Reyes - United States of America
- D.VA - South Korea
- Agent 76 - United States of America
- McCree - United States of America
- Mei - China
- Hanzo - Japan
- Junkrat - Australia
- Reinhardt - Germany
- Widowmaker - France
If one were to go through each character, that person would be able to see that each character has unique skins, ones that depict their lineage, and even their cultural background. Overwatch is about Cultural Diversity. This is even proven with characters such as Mercy. She is typically depicted as a a Valkyrie, a creature that was believed to take Viking souls to Valhalla where they would finally dine with Odin, Thor, and the other Norse deities. One of her alternative skins? Turns her into a demon with horns, blue hair, and a red uniform (as seen above).
With Pharah from Egypt, she has a few unique skins that make her fleshed out when it comes to her nationality such as both versions of her Anubis skin that portrays her as a jackal. The one in focus, however, is er "Raindancer" skin (above). This skin portrays her as a Native American. It's another skin that portrays a unique and diverse culture, one of many tribes, and many peoples. All with their own beliefs, practices, and cultural uniqueness.
When it comes to Reaper? One would expected those from Spain to have their feathers ruffled with Reaper being portrayed as an assassin in a Mariachi uniform in one of his others. Heck even Zenyatta hasn't set off Buddhists being upset over Zenyatta being both a healer, an inspirational mind, and a combatant in Overwatch. Let alone we haven't heard from Egyptians being upset over his Ra skin.
It'd be wise for Blizzard to graciously decline Mr. Zed's proposal to have the character skin removed. This skin could, if anything, bring people to learn about Hinduism and the tales behind each deity within the Pantheon. I know it peaked my curiosity when playing Smite and brought me to learn more about a religion I knew nothing of. As we all know - curiosity is the key to knowledge.