Yesterday Blizzard removed an optional unlock-able pose for the character Tracer, who is featured in their new game Overwatch; set to release on March 24, 2016. The removal was sparked by forum user "Fipps" who posted at length about how the pose caused them distress.
Fipps identified themselves over the course of a four day boiling over by stating:
"I am both not a woman, and not a viewer of the incredibly popular tumblr website."
As well as stating:
"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. "
Screenshot publicly shared by player WUNDER
Overwatch's Game Director Jeff Kaplan responded to the post of the contested pose, which is used by three other characters (one seen above) in the game by stating:
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.
Apologies and we'll continue to try to do better.
"The OP of the thread used his “daughter” (we are assuming good faith from the OP, which is generous) as a weapon to thrust their point home. It is implied in the original post that his daughter is young and not yet a teenager. Overwatch is “T” rated by the ESRB. By agreeing to the parent’s demands, Kaplan is saying “It’s totally okay for your underage daughter to play our game, and we’ll even change it to make it “better” for her despite the fact that the game’s rating indicates it is not suitable for a child of her age and catering to an entirely different demographic.”"
Screenshot of similar pose in Overwatch trailer.
"If we censor content based on the fact that a small group dislikes it, we should censor everything. It's a slippery slope and you know it."
This controversy has its share of detractors from the backlash, with users on social media services such as twitter, facebook, and 4chan making statements such as:
Goobergater Meninist got triggered again. Nothing special, just ignore their fedora crying.
Notably users of 4chans's /v/ board have reported censorship of all topics relating to this particular incident, sparking further outrage.
One long time Blizzard fan, Ginny Higerd; a 30 years old self noted "[...]mother of an 8 year old", have taken to a more emotional outreach on said forums where the controversy originally sparked;
Today, however, I'm upset. I'm disappointed. Today, I feel like my voice no longer matters to Blizzard. Today, I feel like I was told that I have to give up confident and sexy poses to cater to a small minority, very annoying voice in the gaming industry.
[Editors note: Over the course of writing Blizzard Forum Mods deleted Ms. Higerd's post which sparked another backlash, after which Blizzard restored said post.]
While the gaming community is in an uproar, some troubling questions have started to rise from the game development community. Reddit user "ThrowThisAccountBye" asked the question in regards to their upcoming Wii U and Steam project:
"As an indie gamedev, if I come out in support of artistic freedom and against censorship and don't cave in to critics who want the boobs or butts smaller on my females, what kind of backlash should I expect?"
Jeff Kaplan later unlocked the original thread discussing this issue after a 12 hour silence by stating the following:
It should be noted similar actions have been taken by Capcom in regards to Street Fighter V as well as well as an up coming release from tri-Ace; Star Ocean 5, which has meet with severe backlash from Japanese fans.