Blizzard "Trying Not to Oversexualize" Female Overwatch Characters

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Blizzard "Trying Not to Oversexualize" Female Overwatch Characters

Based on feedback from female employees and family members, Blizzard is trying to make its next IP more representative of all gamers.

Two days ago at BlizzCon, Blizzard announced a new IP in the form of team-based shooter Overwatch. During a press conference for the forthcoming PC game, designer Chris Metzen revealed one of the developer's goals for Overwatch: avoiding the hyper-sexualization of female characters.

According to Kotaku, Metzen said of the gender issue, "I think we're clear we're in an age where gaming is for everybody... Increasingly people want to feel represented from all walks of life, everywhere in the world. Boys and girls--everybody." As a result, Blizzard is "trying not to oversexualize the female characters" in Overwatch, a choice that was also influenced by the developer's female employees and Metzen's daughter. "She saw a World of Warcraft cinematic of the Dragon Aspects, and my daughter was like, 'Why are they all in swimsuits?' And I was like, 'I don't know. I don't know anymore.'"

This isn't to say that Overwatch--or any game--should cut out all female (and male, for that matter) characters with a hint of sexuality; but, in this era of boob-shaped armor and warrior women in metal bikini-esque outfits, "there's a lot of room for growth," as Metzen puts it. "We want girls to feel kick-butt. Equally represented." While admitting this is just the first step to a more representative and female-friendly industry, it's refreshing to hear about a major force in gaming making the effort.

Source: Kotaku

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Well, that's nice, but I suppose it's sad that this seems to be news-worthy now.

Considering this game is obviously designed for kids, there shouldn't be any revealing armour. It's not a big deal. If they are emphasizing this point so early on to get attention rather than talk about the game itself, it can't be very good, just a team fortress 2 knockoff.

So one out of five female characters not being in a form fitting outfit counts as "trying"? That's interesting. Considering that the remaining characters are male gorilla, male tank (why no female counterpart? something like Shale from Dragon Age for example), non-gender specific robot/turret, male assassin dude trying too hard to be dark and mysterious, male cybord-yogi (so far my favorite), and lastly male somewhat sexy archer guy. Admittedly the real issue is with the viewer and not the content, but I can see some people having problems with this.

Haha, the source would be Kotaku.

That said: fine by me. It's super easy to avoid over-sexualization. You simply cover up all the bits that mark them female and treat your two genders the same. Guys where a sleeveless vest and an undershit, girls wearing a sleeveless vest and an undershirt. guys wearing baggy pants, girls wearing baggy pants. It's super simple.

The real challenge is going to be pleasing all the brain donors that do nothing but look for it. I'm sure they will still find plenty to complain about. I mean, I watched the video and for like 2 seconds this video followed a female character wearing tight pants and her ass filled most of the screen. That alone is enough to set off some of these people. And just for fun: If you took that archer guys outfit and stuck it on a girl, she would probably be consider over-sexualized. I'm just saying.... it is gonna be hard to please those types of people.

I do feel that comparisons to TF2 are 100% unavoidable though. I mean, it's the same kind of idea it looks like with cartoony characters and point captures and every class being unique and all... though Blizzard is not known for their hats, so that is kind of win in my camp anyway.

Wish they'd just take out female characters at this point, all these stupid articles are not worth it. Linking to Kotaku also, surely the escapist has better standards?

Listen to Metzen, kids, and you'll go to heaven...

captcha: eat your dinner

Ah, thats a nice one

In the end no one can really complain about how the character designs are, the artists are the ones to create them and those artists usually create both genders that end up falling in their own stereotypes. We can choose not to buy it but to be a nagging floating conscience of "No, dont do that, do this, I dont care what you (the one actually doing it) want, I care what I want" really doesnt help anyone.

Baresark:
That said: fine by me. It's super easy to avoid over-sexualization. You simply cover up all the bits that mark them female and treat your two genders the same. Guys where a sleeveless vest and an undershit, girls wearing a sleeveless vest and an undershirt. guys wearing baggy pants, girls wearing baggy pants. It's super simple.

Better yet, put them all in monk robes... and add masks, so we can't see their skin color, you must cover the racist bases as well. And they should all talk with robot voices, a perfect 50/50 male/female sounding voices. I'm sure I'm missing something, but with enough efforts, I'm sure all can be pleased.

synobal:
Wish they'd just take out female characters at this point, all these stupid articles are not worth it. Linking to Kotaku also, surely the escapist has better standards?

Because art is something you have to work and suffer for and if you can't handle any criticism you probably should've picked a different career? Honestly, just because you don't care about these issues, doesn't mean other people don't. And if your biggest problem with this is that you're tired of reading all the articles about it, then frankly I think we're in a good place

OT: Overwatch is certainly a step in the right direction, I love the design for Tracer espically, but it's an example of "Evolution not Revolution". We've still got Widowmaker showing her boobs off, we've still got boob plates, we've still got all the female characters being attractive and obviously human, still limited body types (With the possible exception of Pahrah) all of the women being fairly small where as the guys can range from being small to huge, to being a gorilla or a robot.

Still I don't want to underplay the steps Blizzard is taking here and I am looking forward to this game. We've just got a long way to go.

Particularly nice since it's Blizzard. One of their developers through a proper hissy fit when RPS asked about some of the stripperific Heroes of the Swarm designs (they weren't even too bad, but the developer just said the stupidest things in response. Blizards PR team had to step in and give him a talking too)

Just add a sexy dude and all points can be rendered mute, not that the Asian fella wasn't sexy, he's just not really sexual like the sniper girl.

Butt cereal though, that Pharah looks like a beast, DEATH FROM ABOVE!

Tracker looks like she has some interesting game mechanics, not to mention the English accent kind of tugged at my heart strings a little.

I like how racially diverse it is. Germans, Swedes, Egyptians, Indians, Nepalese... Pretty good so far. Just needs a few black and Hispanic characters and it'll be set.

nevarran:

Baresark:
That said: fine by me. It's super easy to avoid over-sexualization. You simply cover up all the bits that mark them female and treat your two genders the same. Guys where a sleeveless vest and an undershit, girls wearing a sleeveless vest and an undershirt. guys wearing baggy pants, girls wearing baggy pants. It's super simple.

Better yet, put them all in monk robes... and add masks, so we can't see their skin color, you must cover the racist bases as well. And they should all talk with robot voices, a perfect 50/50 male/female sounding voices. I'm sure I'm missing something, but with enough efforts, I'm sure all can be pleased.

To be honest they could just have every class have a male and female model, like the clothing is almost the same but with both genders.
Team Fortress 2's community has already made most female versions of the classes and they are all very similar to the male models except different details (and gender of course).

Some of them

And Im not saying to make all the male characters first and then put female bodies inside, Im saying that for the female characters now to do a male version with a similar outfit (there are plenty of games out there with slim sexy, barely wearing anything, male dudes, especially Mobas)

Well I seemed to see a lot of very slender women in skin-tight outfits in a trailer for a game that's trying not to oversexulize it female characters.

Baresark:
That said: fine by me. It's super easy to avoid over-sexualization. You simply cover up all the bits that mark them female and treat your two genders the same.

Let's all play as bricks! - If everyone looks literally the same its fair all around.

Seriously if there is no difference between male and female then there is little point in having the option at all.
So let's have sausage fest or a veg fest which looks like a sausage fest instead... awesome...

And oh my god the world is going down a female shows of a bit of cleavage or leg...
Instead of being glad that there is an actually new IP by a major developer who could easily rest upon their already established IPs instead, like let's say Nintendo, you guys talk about rather modest designs and make that somehow the main concern.
Talking about getting your priorities straight eh?

BrotherRool:
Particularly nice since it's Blizzard. One of their developers through a proper hissy fit when RPS asked about some of the stripperific Heroes of the Swarm designs (they weren't even too bad, but the developer just said the stupidest things in response. Blizards PR team had to step in and give him a talking too)

Ah yes, the infamous gender debate that RPS decided to dump on Game Director Duston Browder (For Heroes of The Storm, not SC2), let's see what sort of "stupidest things" he said as they were about to end the interview:


[PR motions that time is running low]
RPS: You have some interesting alternate outfits for heroes. Roller Derby Nova, especially, caught my eye. On its own, that's totally fine - just a silly, goofy thing. A one-off. But it got me thinking about how often MOBAs tend to hyper-sexualize female characters to a generally preposterous degree - that is to say, make it the norm, not a one-off at all - and StarCraft's own, um, interesting focus choices as of late. How are you planning to approach all of that in Heroes?

Browder: Well, I mean, some of these characters, I would argue, are already hyper-sexualized in a sense. I mean, Kerrigan is wearing heels, right? We're not sending a message to anybody. We're just making characters who look cool. Our sensibilities are more comic book than anything else. That's sort of where we're at. But I'll take the feedback. I think it's very fair feedback.

-

So breaking it up for you and others, basically RPS asks how they're going to handle the oversexualization that other MOBA's have used regularly (LoL comes to mind).
Browder says it's not about sending a message, but that he'll take the feedback.

So far, not particularly stupid.

-

RPS: I have to add, though, that comics might not be the best point of reference for this sort of thing. I mean, it's a medium that's notorious - often in a not-good way - for sexing up female characters and putting them in some fairly gross situations.

Browder: We're not running for President. We're not sending a message. No one should look to our game for that.

-

Interviewer dumps his political view. Browder's response is apt, that there is no ill intention in this.

-

RPS: But it's not even about a message. The goal is to let people have fun in an environment where they can feel awesome without being weirded out or even objectified. This is a genre about empowerment. Why shouldn't everyone feel empowered? That's what it's about at the end of the day: letting everyone have a fair chance to feel awesome.

Browder: Uh-huh. Cool. Totally.

[PR says we've run over, tells me I have to leave]

-

Ah, Browder is dismissing the interviewer who is intent on having a political debate. What a stupid move, huh?
I mean, here we have a developer/game director who is out to make a fun and awesome game in his eyes, but he hasn't considered the sensibilities of everyone. What a stupid guy, eh? Doesn't he know that unless you're all-inclusive, you're cis-male scum that lives in your mom's basement? What a misogynist.

Sarcasm and assumptions aside, don't buy into or spread this ridiculous notion that Blizzard was out to be non-inclusive.
They're making games that they think are cool and here we have a "journalist" outright pressuring a developer on a political stance that's irrelevant to the game they're making.

It's click-bait journalism, just like this link-post to Kotaku.
If anyone else wants to read this shit from Rock, Paper, Shotgun, here it is.

The Goat Tsar:
I like how racially diverse it is. Germans, Swedes, Egyptians, Indians, Nepalese... Pretty good so far. Just needs a few black and Hispanic characters and it'll be set.

In the cinematic trailer, we see this image where there is indeed a black guy. Whether or not he'll be playable is up to guess, but I'm tempted to that that he will be, it's just that blizzard hasn't implemented the whole roster of heroes to pick from yet, hence why he wasn't seen in the gameplay trailer.

Well this makes sense. Why do yourself what the internet is happy to do for you?

As in, I have already seen Overwatch porn. By accident. And I hear there was some for Tracer floating around *hours* after the press conference ended.

Smilomaniac:

BrotherRool:
Particularly nice since it's Blizzard. One of their developers through a proper hissy fit when RPS asked about some of the stripperific Heroes of the Swarm designs (they weren't even too bad, but the developer just said the stupidest things in response. Blizards PR team had to step in and give him a talking too)

Ah yes, the infamous gender debate that RPS decided to dump on Game Director Duston Browder (For Heroes of The Storm, not SC2), let's see what sort of "stupidest things" he said as they were about to end the interview:


[PR motions that time is running low]
RPS: You have some interesting alternate outfits for heroes. Roller Derby Nova, especially, caught my eye. On its own, that's totally fine - just a silly, goofy thing. A one-off. But it got me thinking about how often MOBAs tend to hyper-sexualize female characters to a generally preposterous degree - that is to say, make it the norm, not a one-off at all - and StarCraft's own, um, interesting focus choices as of late. How are you planning to approach all of that in Heroes?

Browder: Well, I mean, some of these characters, I would argue, are already hyper-sexualized in a sense. I mean, Kerrigan is wearing heels, right? We're not sending a message to anybody. We're just making characters who look cool. Our sensibilities are more comic book than anything else. That's sort of where we're at. But I'll take the feedback. I think it's very fair feedback.

-

So breaking it up for you and others, basically RPS asks how they're going to handle the oversexualization that other MOBA's have used regularly (LoL comes to mind).
Browder says it's not about sending a message, but that he'll take the feedback.

So far, not particularly stupid.

-

RPS: I have to add, though, that comics might not be the best point of reference for this sort of thing. I mean, it's a medium that's notorious - often in a not-good way - for sexing up female characters and putting them in some fairly gross situations.

Browder: We're not running for President. We're not sending a message. No one should look to our game for that.

-

Interviewer dumps his political view. Browder's response is apt, that there is no ill intention in this.

-

RPS: But it's not even about a message. The goal is to let people have fun in an environment where they can feel awesome without being weirded out or even objectified. This is a genre about empowerment. Why shouldn't everyone feel empowered? That's what it's about at the end of the day: letting everyone have a fair chance to feel awesome.

Browder: Uh-huh. Cool. Totally.

[PR says we've run over, tells me I have to leave]

-

Ah, Browder is dismissing the interviewer who is intent on having a political debate. What a stupid move, huh?
I mean, here we have a developer/game director who is out to make a fun and awesome game in his eyes, but he hasn't considered the sensibilities of everyone. What a stupid guy, eh? Doesn't he know that unless you're all-inclusive, you're cis-male scum that lives in your mom's basement? What a misogynist.

Sarcasm and assumptions aside, don't buy into or spread this ridiculous notion that Blizzard was out to be non-inclusive.
They're making games that they think are cool and here we have a "journalist" outright pressuring a developer on a political stance that's irrelevant to the game they're making.

It's click-bait journalism, just like this link-post to Kotaku.
If anyone else wants to read this shit from Rock, Paper, Shotgun, here it is.

What a weird interview.

In regards to overwatch it wasn't really over sexualizing that I see as the issue. As someone else mentioned it's that they lacked the "all shapes and sizes" area on the female side of things. The girls are all "in the kitchen" combat stereotypes. I'm in the camp of breaking the glass ceiling on on sexualization rather than going inoffensive. What a girl can't be a big tatted up evil goblin? The guys are generally all over the place but the girls are generic. Thats disappointing.

I would label myself a feminist in the strictest terms, but there's a camp of people I think that aren't even sure what they're looking for but are shouting at the rooftops with GGGR about it and everything thats so wrong about everything. I think that RPS interview and whatever interview brought about this blizzard response came from that camp and while I'm about me some equality I would avoid association with that group at all costs.

Subbies:

The Goat Tsar:
I like how racially diverse it is. Germans, Swedes, Egyptians, Indians, Nepalese... Pretty good so far. Just needs a few black and Hispanic characters and it'll be set.

In the cinematic trailer, we see this image where there is indeed a black guy. Whether or not he'll be playable is up to guess, but I'm tempted to that that he will be, it's just that blizzard hasn't implemented the whole roster of heroes to pick from yet, hence why he wasn't seen in the gameplay trailer.

Thats encouraging, I hope I spoke too soon on the lack of diversity.

piscian:

What a weird interview.

In regards to overwatch it wasn't really over sexualizing that I see as the issue. As someone else mentioned it's that they lacked the "all shapes and sizes" area on the female side of things. The girls are all "in the kitchen" combat stereotypes. I'm in the camp of breaking the glass ceiling on on sexualization rather than going inoffensive. What a girl can't be a big tatted up evil goblin? The guys are generally all over the place but the girls are generic. Thats disappointing.

I would label myself a feminist in the strictest terms, but there's a camp of people I think that aren't even sure what they're looking for but are shouting at the rooftops with GGGR about it and everything thats so wrong about everything. I think that RPS interview and whatever interview brought about this blizzard response came from that camp and while I'm about me some equality I would avoid association with that group at all costs.

That's good to hear, really.

Let me extend my hand and say I sympathize with anyone who wants to see more representation in games and that I think any viewpoint is just fine with me.
As long as we can talk about these things and we can try to understand eachother, there is no problem.

The exception is when somebody comes in and tells me that I'm outright wrong and labels me and the whole community I'm part of as hateful or bigoted and that we should do things a certain way, think a certain way and speak a certain way.
Then there's a problem and the bigotry is real, but it's coming from that person.

This lack of basic human decency and total lack of self-evaluation is staggering.

So thank you, for not being one of those people.

Smilomaniac:

Ah, Browder is dismissing the interviewer who is intent on having a political debate. What a stupid move, huh?
I mean, here we have a developer/game director who is out to make a fun and awesome game in his eyes, but he hasn't considered the sensibilities of everyone. What a stupid guy, eh? Doesn't he know that unless you're all-inclusive, you're cis-male scum that lives in your mom's basement? What a misogynist.

See we're not going to go anywhere, because from my reading Browder was reacting exactly like you are, and I, well I dont consider that reaction smart =D The whole 'it's politics' thing is kind of BS. You're making a game for people and it's stupid to think that you don't have to think about the people you're making it for.

BrotherRool:

Smilomaniac:

Ah, Browder is dismissing the interviewer who is intent on having a political debate. What a stupid move, huh?
I mean, here we have a developer/game director who is out to make a fun and awesome game in his eyes, but he hasn't considered the sensibilities of everyone. What a stupid guy, eh? Doesn't he know that unless you're all-inclusive, you're cis-male scum that lives in your mom's basement? What a misogynist.

See we're not going to go anywhere, because from my reading Browder was reacting exactly like you are, and I, well I dont consider that reaction smart =D The whole 'it's politics' thing is kind of BS. You're making a game for people and it's stupid to think that you don't have to think about the people you're making it for.

You don't consider it smart, because you don't entertain the thought that your opinion might not be shared by others and more importantly, that people might even understand it and still not agree with it.
This is an insignificant topic to many, many people and to pressure it onto people is not only annoying, it's outright rude and disrespectful, because of the connotations that go along with it.

"You don't agree that there's sexism? You must be a misogynist, ignorant and/or bigoted."

My umbrage was with your reference to this interview that you first of all didn't remember correctly and likely exaggerated. He was being honest. You can certainly disagree with him, but to simply state that he was being (or saying something) stupid, is demeaning and shows your inability to consider another persons viewpoint; That this topic is overblown and not important for everyone else.
More importantly, it doesn't invalidate what others like or think.

Hazzard:
Well, that's nice, but I suppose it's sad that this seems to be news-worthy now.

Well when a major publisher pulls off such a nice flying leap to the bandwagon.. it's news. Don't worry Blizzard I'm sure someone will have a mod to make those boobies jiggle properly within a month of your release..

Seriously Hyper sexualization? Over sexualization... anyone remember that what is considered sexy is a very personal thing? and that no matter what your female character looks like there are always going to be no less than 10 guys and 3 women that think she's OMG HAWT

But whatever...it's ironic though... they make a big deal of not pandering to one group in order to pander to another.

Subbies:

The Goat Tsar:
I like how racially diverse it is. Germans, Swedes, Egyptians, Indians, Nepalese... Pretty good so far. Just needs a few black and Hispanic characters and it'll be set.

In the cinematic trailer, we see this image where there is indeed a black guy. Whether or not he'll be playable is up to guess, but I'm tempted to that that he will be, it's just that blizzard hasn't implemented the whole roster of heroes to pick from yet, hence why he wasn't seen in the gameplay trailer.

That's awesome, it looks like there's a female robot in there as well, which would be the first non-human female character. I mean, I know robots don't have genders, but it looks like she'll have a female personality like the robot monk has a male personality.

If I get a choice of characters, I always prefer the black guy. I'm happy to see there is at least one. I just hope they don't take a super long time putting him the game (like Rexxar in HotS).

PunkRex:
Just add a sexy dude and all points can be rendered mute, not that the Asian fella wasn't sexy, he's just not really sexual like the sniper girl.

Seriously, can we get some sexualization of Hanzo? a little bit? Please? Because daaaaaamn son. Hella.

nevarran:

Baresark:
That said: fine by me. It's super easy to avoid over-sexualization. You simply cover up all the bits that mark them female and treat your two genders the same. Guys where a sleeveless vest and an undershit, girls wearing a sleeveless vest and an undershirt. guys wearing baggy pants, girls wearing baggy pants. It's super simple.

Better yet, put them all in monk robes... and add masks, so we can't see their skin color, you must cover the racist bases as well. And they should all talk with robot voices, a perfect 50/50 male/female sounding voices. I'm sure I'm missing something, but with enough efforts, I'm sure all can be pleased.

You really don't know how it works, do you?

Since you just suggested that the game have nothing but straight white male characters and all (seriously, you'll have people argue that any character that isn't evidently not straight, white, or male is automatically those things by default).

Eh, that's good. If they're making TF2.5 they'd better nail the interesting and colourful cast of characters.

The result is pretty badass male and female character designs. Articles don't do Chris Metzen's passionate response to this question justice.

That's an interesting thing to say given that one of the female chars has an ass gap in her armor so we can see her lovingly crafted tight butt better.

This is good, but it sucks how this is actually something a company would speak out on. :/

Meanwhile, Sarkeesian and McIntosh are ALREADY calling the game sexist based on promo material alone.

Seriously, haven't people learned from this past year/two years that judging a game based on early promo material is a bad idea? Did they forget about Aliens: Colonial Marines, Watch_Dogs, Destiny, etc?

There is *no winning* with these people. None at all.

Unrelated note, wanted to post this on facebook comments but couldn't. So here I am. Meh.

BigTuk:

Hazzard:
Well, that's nice, but I suppose it's sad that this seems to be news-worthy now.

Well when a major publisher pulls off such a nice flying leap to the bandwagon.. it's news. Don't worry Blizzard I'm sure someone will have a mod to make those boobies jiggle properly within a month of your release..

Seriously Hyper sexualization? Over sexualization... anyone remember that what is considered sexy is a very personal thing? and that no matter what your female character looks like there are always going to be no less than 10 guys and 3 women that think she's OMG HAWT

But whatever...it's ironic though... they make a big deal of not pandering to one group in order to pander to another.

I wouldn't call it "pandering" when you're trying not to alienate part of your customerbase. That is, if they're sincere about this, and not - as you said - merely hitching a ride on the bandwagon.

All things considered, the jiggle-mod-in-a-month is the best possible scenario. It's not forced on anyone, but whomever likes their characters stripperific will be able to do so.

oldtaku:
That's an interesting thing to say given that one of the female chars has an ass gap in her armor so we can see her lovingly crafted tight butt better.

Yea.... don't get me wrong, I loved the general aesthetic of their trailers so far, but if this is "less sexualised", they really have a loooooooong way ahead of them.

I find the new IP already has good support for female characters regardless of their class.

I'm also not surprised that this article has more comments due to the mention of "female characters" compared to the Blizzard documentary which I feel was more worth the comments or at least watch than this, I feel it's a matter of time before this site becomes non caring about gaming and more about female representation, a good chunk of the gaming and off topic sections are already saturated with that topic and it's only because of what transpired this year, you can say "it'll die down in a few months", no it won't, it hasn't died down at all and isn't showing any signs, I'm all for equality and equal representation but I'm not all for sites like this becoming nothing but single topic discussions that aren't about the games themselves.

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