New Overwatch Hero Is a Response to Body-Type Diversity Criticism

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New Overwatch Hero Is a Response to Body-Type Diversity Criticism

Zayra, a female weightlifting hopeful, is a response to fan feedback clamoring for more diversity in body-types.

The representation of females in games has been topic of hot debate as of late, with various critics lamenting various game developers of the "lack of diversity" in female body-types. We won't really go into specifics here, but needless to say, Blizzard has been listening, and the newest Overwatch character, Zarya, is a direct response to these critics.

"We've been hearing a lot of discussion among players about the need for diversity in video games. That means a lot of things. They want to see gender diversity, they want to see racial diversity, they want to see diversity along the lines of what country people are from," explained Blizzard, adding "There is also talk about diversity in different body types in that not everybody wants to have the exact same body type always represented. And we just want you to know that we're listening and we're trying hard and we hope Zarya is a step in the right direction."

Check her out below:

Zayra is the game's first female tank character. According to Blizzard, she originally wanted to be a weightlifting champion, but later enlisted in battle to fight for the freedom of her world. She is, of course, from Russia. Her addition certainly holds true to Blizzard's earlier words, in that it is trying not to oversexualize its female characters.

In addition to Zayra, Blizzard also revealed McCree, a gunslinger-type cowboy hero that is all about being quick on his feet, and quick on the draw. Check him out:

Blizzard also revealed a new map for the game, called Watchpoint: Gibraltar, and announced that we'd finally be able to get our hands on it when the closed beta begins this fall.

Source: Blizzard

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B-b-b-but the artistic vision!

Won't somebody please think of the artistic visions being violated by all this diversity?

She is still sexy though, in a body-builder kind-of way. And she has a pretty face. How about making fat, not pretty female character?

So, it's a token then?

I mean, it's not an original character, it's just playing off the whole "Buff Russian Super-soilder" trope.

The design philosophy isn't to bring anything to the game, but instead just "fill a gap in the spectrum".

Why are people happy about this again?

I mean, sure, it's not a terrible character, but, they could have done so much better here.

Mister K:
She is still sexy though, in a body-builder kind-of way. And she has a pretty face. How about making fat, not pretty female character?

"This video game is okay, but it's not quite ugly enough."

Screw that.

Good, good. This way everyone with all tastes has something to objectify! How can anyone argue with that?

Zhukov:
B-b-b-but the artistic vision!

Won't somebody please think of the artistic visions being violated by all this diversity?

True artistic vision and creative freedom is the first casualty of a culture war.

Right now we are at the stage of the conflict where each side has dug their trenches and written out a checklist of what they do and don't find acceptable. They then go about trying to destroy, ruin or sling shit at anything that doesn't fit within their critera of what is to be considered acceptable in terms of artistic and creative expression.

Design via checklist, whether that checklist was created by social justice advocates or a marketing team targeting specific demographics is artistically bankrupt. What annoys me about this entire situation is how many dishonest participates claim to be on the side of the artist, but are infact are either trying to preserve the old status quo or establish a new status quo on top of the ashes of the old.

Both of these positions are anti-art positions

Steven Bogos:
She is, of course, from Russia.

Of course she is. I mean everyone knows Russia has the monopoly on big, strong women with kinda deep voices, right? /s
Honestly, this is just a gender-swap of TF2's Heavy, so it seems to me that Blizzard just made her for diversity's sake.

"There is also talk about diversity in different body types in that not everybody wants to have the exact same body type always represented. And we just want you to know that we're listening and we're trying hard and we hope Zarya is a step in the right direction."

That statement pretty much screams that Zarya wasn't created because it was a character design Blizzard thought would be cool, but because it ticked off a few boxes on a bloody checklist.

I'm sure I'm gonna get flak for this, but I'm not sorry. If a dev creates a character it should be because they've got a collection of ideas they think would be pretty cool together, not because a vocal portion of their consumer base is telling them what to do (that goes for you too publishers). Basically, let the artists create whatever the hell they want and either take it or leave it. But if you're one of the people telling devs what to make: congrats, you're one step closer to becoming a dev yourself! Get some skills, go grab some friends, and start up your own indie studio. Solve the character and workplace diversity issues at the same time.

Oh, and despite all that bitching I just finished, I actually like the character.

Well, she's tall, still pretty, stacked and packing enormous guns.

Sure, why not, I'm still hoping for a character that's basically a female version The Heavy.

How about a Bear with a rail gun strapped to it's back (must be Russian or Canadian, female and husky, can't steer too clear of stereotypes).
Or a fat woman with bionic legs that make her the fastest character in the game.
Or a guy in a wheel chair with rocket booster that let him super jump (Psychic powers since Overwatch's schtick is paying homage to well established archetypes).

I'm willing to bet Blizzard came up with crazier stuff, but it got killed on the way through green lighting.

I've never really gotten people's problems with "skinny", and by skinny I mean perfectly healthy, body types. Why should they have to put in fat or ugly people? I get that it's wrong to make fun of people's physique, but to require that a game needs to have fat or ugly people? I'm no body builder super model, quite the opposite, but saying there's nothing wrong with being fat is bullshit. And by fat I mean Ellie from Borderlands fat. If protagonists in a game are supposed to be heroes, they should be good examples and stuff. They should all be healthy and fit. If not that then at least normal. If people think that making models look extremely thin could encourage anorexic behavior, then (as ridiculous as it sounds) fat models could also encourage obesity.

Also, she's still pretty hot, with assets that could not possibly exist in real life. Unless boobs are made of muscle in Overwatch's universe.

Lastly, why doesn't her gun make burn marks on the walls? That seems like a pretty big thing to forget in a shooter.

Steven Bogos:
(Snip).

Title typo there - critcism.

OT: The gunslinger's design doesn't look all that original, which is a shame.

The Lunatic:
So, it's a token then?

I mean, it's not an original character, it's just playing off the whole "Buff Russian Super-soilder" trope.

The design philosophy isn't to bring anything to the game, but instead just "fill a gap in the spectrum".

Why are people happy about this again?

Because they made a demand, and that demand was listened to. Remember the old joke- "when you made a detailed and wildly successful independent conversion mod of one of their popular video games, Blizzard sends you a cease and desist letter, EA sends you a pack of carnivorous lawyers, Valve sends you a job offer"?

I can't help but feel pity for the big dogs in the industry nowadays (and that's something I never thought I'd feel): the ongoing culture war means there's really no way to make anybody happy; no matter what you do, every move is a mistake. I'm no exception; my first reaction to this news was "Why is it assumed that people can only 'relate' to someone who's almost identical to them? Why is that assumed by the people themselves?".

Okay, so it's the female heavy with a grenade launcher, gravity well grenade, personal or support uber.

As for appearance, buff Russian chick. She's actually really attractive by my standards... but then again being fit is typically an attractive trait. And she's FIT, not a body builder - at least in appearance.

No one is against diversity in gaming, in a new IP you can make whatever you want with it and I a happy about that! At a few Blizzcons there were a lot of people who asked Blizzard that they wanna see diversity. Happily Blizzard didn't force it(GAMES MEDIA IS MAKING A BIG DEAL ABOUT IT!!!! WE WOULDN'T HAVE NOTICED IF THERE WASN'T THIS BIG SCANDAL) Just think of WoW and Dwarven females is someone against them? NO...

PS: Russian chicks are sexy no matter what!BECAUSE RUSSIAN WOMEN ARE BADASS!

fix-the-spade:

Or a fat woman with bionic legs that make her the fastest character in the game.
Or a guy in a wheel chair with rocket booster that let him super jump (Psychic powers since Overwatch's schtick is paying homage to well established archetypes).

YOU! YES, YOU! See the box? Get in it! I am sending you to Blizzard HQ.

P.S. In addition to my previous comment: I LIKE her design (well, pink hair aside). But she is still PRETTY. If you really ARE aiming for diversity, Blizzard, then make female characters as diverse in appearance as male characters are.

As I said, I like the way she looks and plays, but her design basically says to me: "Lets make her big, but not too big, oh no no no! We can't have big girls. And God save us from making chubby girl".

fix-the-spade:
How about a Bear with a rail gun strapped to it's back (must be Russian or Canadian, female and husky, can't steer too clear of stereotypes).

I would hate to see that. I like Winston, but only because if you were going to try to uplift an animal, a great ape like a gorilla is a credible choice. Winston is a character who, despite being an animal, can pass as serious science fiction. An uplifted bear is more the stuff of B-grade schlock.

Or a fat woman with bionic legs that make her the fastest character in the game.
Or a guy in a wheel chair with rocket booster that let him super jump (Psychic powers since Overwatch's schtick is paying homage to well established archetypes).

More B-grade schlock. A better concept would be combining the bionic legs part and the paraplegic part into a single character - somebody who was crippled during the war and is consequentially forced to wear either bionic legs or a BLEEX-style partial exoskeleton.

*sigh*
I'm going to get so much stick for this....

Blizzard makes new game
--> Complaints about all the females being "too sexy/goodlooking/whatever"
--> Blizzard makes a character which doesn't resemble the ideal of today
--> Complaints about Blizzard not making this character in the first place or ugly enough or whatever

People... just stop... please...

Of course game makers are going to create the ideals of today. Characters which as many are going to be able to relate to, or want to play as, as posible, so that people are going to want to play the game. If there are good looking characters as you play as = you are that person, you want to be it. Or then if they make a character that is black, or asian or caucasian, of course they will make a character of that race so that as many as possible can identify with him/her, and that will make the character a bit of a generalisation, because as much as we hate to admit it, generalisations do base themselves in reality somewhat.

I personally don't look too much at the characters when I play the game, as long as I enjoy the game as a whole I am happy. If there are characters I like or hate, good, just gives me more reason to like the game. And all this political correctness could go up the arse of some buffalo as far as I am concerned, people are too sensitive in todays world -.-

Blizzard answered to the calls of gamers, this is most likely the first of many characters they will make to create a game people will enjoy, if you care so much, continue giving them feedback and hopefully they will listen again. They already did once!

Grumman:

More B-grade schlock. A better concept would be combining the bionic legs part and the paraplegic part into a single character - somebody who was crippled during the war and is consequentially forced to wear either bionic legs or a BLEEX-style partial exoskeleton.

Have you been paying attention, Overwatch is B-Grade shlock given a shiny coat of paint and gleeful abandon.

You can try and pretend some higher purpose, but when the cockney pixie tells you to cheer up luv, the cavalry's 'ere you should really just go with it.

Trying not to be B-Grade shlock absolutely ruined Overstrike/Fuse and most of the DC movies too, stop being so joyless!

Bob_McMillan:
I've never really gotten people's problems with "skinny", and by skinny I mean perfectly healthy, body types. Why should they have to put in fat or ugly people? I get that it's wrong to make fun of people's physique, but to require that a game needs to have fat or ugly people? I'm no body builder super model, quite the opposite, but saying there's nothing wrong with being fat is bullshit. And by fat I mean Ellie from Borderlands fat. If protagonists in a game are supposed to be heroes, they should be good examples and stuff. They should all be healthy and fit. If not that then at least normal. If people think that making models look extremely thin could encourage anorexic behavior, then (as ridiculous as it sounds) fat models could also encourage obesity.

Also, she's still pretty hot, with assets that could not possibly exist in real life. Unless boobs are made of muscle in Overwatch's universe.

Lastly, why doesn't her gun make burn marks on the walls? That seems like a pretty big thing to forget in a shooter.

The argument as I understand it is not "there are thin people in media, that causes anorexia", it's about the way media presents overwhelmingly a single physical ideal("Hollywood thin") that isn't remotely reflective of reality, and that distorts people's perceptions; a girl who's not by any means "obese" but just heavyset in basic build, continually exposed to a media environment that insists everyone in every profession at every income level(except "very very poor", for which "fat slob" has become a kind of shorthand in media) is super-skinny, could easily develop psychological issues around body image and diet that lead to an eating disorder, because eating disorders are the only way for some people to actually achieve that "Hollywood thin" look. It's not "monkey see, monkey do", it's about someone being immersed in a media narrative that's so distance from reality the dissonance can cause actual mental health problems - having a few overweight or not-perfectly-attractive people in roles other than "fat slob poor person", "fat-person-fall-down comedy relief person", or "guy who's ugly and so obviously the baddie" wouldn't be the same thing unless depictions of obese people became the new ubiquitous norm.

I don't get why people always find it uniquely difficult to grasp why this is an issue when talking about gender or body type, these concepts are not new or poorly understood, they're the basic mechanisms that underlie everything from authoritarian state propaganda to corporate marketing; human beings are remarkably easy to manipulate, intentionally or otherwise(cue hundreds of people thinking to themselves "hah, I never fall for that stuff, lulz other people are stupid" - advertisers love people who believe that), and the only way to really prevent it is to make the issue enough of "a thing" that people actively think about it when it comes up - aforementioned Example Girl is much less likely to develop some kind of disorder if she understands the underlying media landscape, if she understands the statistical realities of human body diversity, and if she has at least some positive examples in the media to relate to.

Nobody's demanding we lock Brad Pitt and Jessica Alba in a dungeon and replace them and all like them with human beachballs festooned with warts, but a few not-Hollywood-attractive people presented as something other than objects of ridicule or pity isn't too much to ask surely.

Ark of the Covetor:
snip

Cartoon characters aren't the same as real people. I'm pretty sure most people look to real life human beings as role models, not a collection of pixels on a screen. Looking to cartoon fantasy characters to "feel represented", that's like scraping the bottom of the barrel, must be pretty depressing.

Mister K:
She is still sexy though, in a body-builder kind-of way. And she has a pretty face. How about making fat, not pretty female character?

Sorry to burst your bubble, but we are just never going to see a non-pretty female character in this industry. I mean, Really now.

:P

On a side note, I dunno, I don't really see a problem with her. It'd be a better gesture if she wasn't a response, but other than that, the fans asked, Blizzard listened. Just balance her proper, because sweet Jesus she looks powerful in that vid. Then again, she does focus primarily on weapons I prefer to use.

Paradoxrifts:

Design via checklist, whether that checklist was created by social justice advocates or a marketing team targeting specific demographics is artistically bankrupt.

Simply untrue. Some of the best art is created as a direct result of harsh limitation.

BeerTent:

Mister K:
She is still sexy though, in a body-builder kind-of way. And she has a pretty face. How about making fat, not pretty female character?

Sorry to burst your bubble, but we are just never going to see a non-pretty female character in this industry. I mean, Really now.

:P

On a side note, I dunno, I don't really see a problem with her. It'd be a better gesture if she wasn't a response, but other than that, the fans asked, Blizzard listened. Just balance her proper, because sweet Jesus she looks powerful in that vid. Then again, she does focus primarily on weapons I prefer to use.

I won't agree with you on Witch, because it is common knowledge that female enemies/antagonists are allowed to be not attractive, but yeah, I forgot about Helga (is that her name?)

Oh, and I too don't have problems with her. I don't really like pink hair, but otherwise I like everything about her. But I DO have a problem with rule "female character can be either pretty or on heavier side of weight". The example you've provided me with only serves to confirm my theory. I mean, chubby ladies can be pretty, you know. Oooooh, by the freakin way, I think the same situation is with male characters. Hmm...

I've always wanted a female heavy, so whatever hangups I have I'm going to shelf.

I love her.

Also Kotaku can shut up. Even (most of) tumblr seems to like her.

Genocidicles:
So we get a character made to combat complaints by the SJWs... and how do they take it I wonder?

Well going by Kotaku's article... The first comment you see is someone complaining:

https://archive.today/wOu3K

There's just no pleasing these cunts.

Well I rather like it and I've been labeled an SJW in the past plenty of times.

Also if you're hoping for something that will never be criticized by every single person on the internet, you're gonna be waiting for a LONG time. It's the human condition, not the results of a vague group you're determined to hate. I just poked into Tumblr and it's exploding over how much people love her. Overall the reaction to her is pretty damn positive so the SJW cunts that you speak off can totally be pleased. Not all of them because they're not a hive mind who want the same thing, but hey. Human beings.

She looks pretty stereotypical to me: the big, burly, Russian strong woman - with a prettier face, sure, but still very grounded in the stereotypes.

Like the gunslinger, to be honest. The art style is cool, but the art design team is pretty dry on the character creation front in my opinion.

Genocidicles:
So we get a character made to combat complaints by the SJWs... and how do they take it I wonder?

Well going by Kotaku's article... The first comment you see is someone complaining:

https://archive.today/wOu3K

There's just no pleasing these cunts.

As everyone knows, if someone acknowledges your complaints and than tries to, for lack of a better word that I can't think of right now, "fix" what you saw as wrong, you are not allowed to find any fault with their attempt. After all, how much of a cunt do you have to be to expect something more than an attempt that you don't think succeeded?

OT: Blah blah tokenism, blah blah artistic integrity, blah blah checklist. It is the end of all things now that a developer responded to criticism about diversity (regardless of it not being the best attempt), how will the world go on? Oh, right, by people whining about how horrible it is that a developer responded to people's criticisms that weren't theirs.

Genocidicles:
So we get a character made to combat complaints by the SJWs... and how do they take it I wonder?

Well going by Kotaku's article... The first comment you see is someone complaining:

https://archive.today/wOu3K

There's just no pleasing these cunts.

I think what they ultimately want is something that transcends stereotypes like never before. A three-legged Olympian and furry who was born and raised on the sun, would be "quite cool."

Steven Bogos:
Zayra is the game's first female tank character.

Steven Bogos:
In addition to Zayra,

*Zarya

kael013:
Of course she is. I mean everyone knows Russia has the monopoly on big, strong women with kinda deep voices, right? /s

Not "monopoly", per se, but seems a lot of them come from there. I'd appreciate it if less of the big buff characters came from there. There are a few more countries than the USA, UK, Russia and China where it seems a lot of characters hail from (well, we could expand it a bit to, like, Germany and France but you get the idea).

It looks like they took the stereotypical male body, stuck a female head on it, put some armor with boobs on it and called it a female. At least we are still seeing unrealistic women in games, so I guess that is never gonna change. Not that I need women to be realistic, I just need them to be as realistic as male characters, which is not at all indicative of what most men actually look like.

So I guess.... good design. At least she isn't like a twig with boobs.

Edit: OMG... is Blizzard condoning the user of steroids! Haha, I just couldn't help myself.

Edit2: Transgender? Perhaps XXY? Hmmm... could be interesting.

inmunitas:
Cartoon characters aren't the same as real people. I'm pretty sure most people look to real life human beings as role models, not a collection of pixels on a screen. Looking to cartoon fantasy characters to "feel represented", that's like scraping the bottom of the barrel, must be pretty depressing.

Yeah, it is somewhat depressing that the only fat guy with agency who isn't a bandit, thug, Peter Griffin or some such I can think of is Coop from Megas XLR. Though that's to be expected, fat people are bad and should feel bad so they can become better, normal people. :(

Genocidicles:
So we get a character made to combat complaints by the SJWs... and how do they take it I wonder?

Well going by Kotaku's article... The first comment you see is someone complaining:

https://archive.today/wOu3K

There's just no pleasing these cunts.

Because lumping everyone together for something a few said is perfectly fine when you're doing it for the right side.

inmunitas:

Ark of the Covetor:
snip

Cartoon characters aren't the same as real people. I'm pretty sure most people look to real life human beings as role models, not a collection of pixels on a screen. Looking to cartoon fantasy characters to "feel represented", that's like scraping the bottom of the barrel, must be pretty depressing.

You do realize this is a website mainly dedicated to gamers correct? As in gaming is our preferred hobby? And short of games like Tex Murphy, games don't actually have real people in them, and I'm pretty sure a lot of gamers grew up idolizing game characters. Heck, we still do if the popularity of characters like Master Chief and Commander Shepard is anything to go by

And what's so bad about relating with someone who's a fictional character and not live action? I relate to plenty of video game characters like you wouldn't believe.

The specifics of design aren't that important in this instance, as I think simply acknowledging a need for greater variety is what's most important, so kudos to them for that.

As a relatively masculine Rusky female, however, it's still just another stereotype as opposed to anything particularly original or new. Still, big picture contexts are important.

Wholly subjectively, and whilst I won't be playing the game, I like the look of most of the designs.

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