Someone is offended in the world. Who would have guessed? This time the person being offended is Rajan Zed, President of Universal Society of Hinduism. He happens to not like the way my favorite, Overwatch defender looks in one of her skins. Symmetra’s Devi skin to be exact. According to him it is inappropriate and “trivialized Hinduism’s highly revered goddesses.” Mr. Zed further went on to say it was belittling and confusing. I’m sure you can piece together the rest in your head but if you want to read his full statement click here. Essentially, he wants Blizzard to remove the skin entirely from Overwatch.
Why shouldn’t they remove it you ask? Well it’s tantamount to other group’s wanting their way because of their chosen ideals. Which I guess transitions into my first point. Your religious sensibilities do not dictate what others can or can’t do. So if you don’t like having video game characters sharing similarities with your following, don’t make a game where video game characters look like figures in your religion. It’s that simple. However, if other people want to do it and it’s not physically and actively harming someone, too bad. Blizzard has every right to make the skins of their choice.
Next is the tried and true statement, “we shouldn’t have to censor ourselves to comfort your ignorance.” There are over hundreds of different religions in the world and Mr. Zed’s particularly finds Symmetra’s skin offensive. Again, your beliefs do not equate to the rest of the world following suit. You have chosen to believe one way and another has the choice to believe their way. Blizzard chose to make a very beautiful skin and their artists are entitled to it. Art should never be smothered in order to make people happy. Everyone can breathe a collective sigh of relief now. I am done with the heavy, philosophical facts of life.
Blizzard is definitely not in the business of offending anyone. They’ve created a whole host of great games with nothing of the offending nature. Unless you of course count the mess that was Diablo 3 for awhile but that’s not the point. In fact, they completely changed a pose for the Overwatch, character Tracer because it was seen as sexualizing. Now for those of you wondering why I’m not complaining about that change, let me explain. Women are more than just being thought of as sexy. (Honestly, I had no problem with the pose but I am not a woman and cannot adequately say how sexulized it wasn’t.) Symmetra on the other hand is simply wearing a costume that looks like a Hindu deity. Removing it would be equivalent to removing Reaper’s Nevemore skin because it’s hurtful to Edgar Allen Poe’s story. One example was negatively generalizing a whole group of actual, living people and the other was just similar-looking to one of many deities in the world.
Speaking of world, Symmetra has one of her own. She has her own fictional backstory. She is her own character that Blizzard made up. They didn’t just straight up copy someone’s god into a video game. She grew up in the slums of Hyderabad, India where the Vishkar Corporation was building new cities with hard-light technology. Symmetra was seen as someone who could wield such tech and plucked from poverty to master it. There were a few adventures along the way but this article isn’t about that. Blizzard’s creation is yet another art form released into our world with multiple varieties. Getting rid of one of those varieties leads to censorship which leads to a slippery slope of free speech being restricted.
Funny I mention free speech because Rajan Zed said this in his statement. “Hindus were for free speech as much as anybody else if not more. But faith was something sacred and attempts at belittling it hurt the devotees.” He basically says free speech is something important but then throws out the notion in the very next sentence because this skin is sacred to him. His hypocritical argument falls flat even without my previously mentioned points. If you want to believe in something (that doesn’t hurt others) then by all means believe in it. However, the second you say something has to be changed because of your personal belief is the moment we have a problem. Sorry, I know I said I was done with the heavy stuff.
My last point on why Symmetra’s Devi skin shouldn’t be removed is quite simple. I spent a lot of coin to get it. Don’t mess with my hard earned currency!
I’m hoping fellow gamers get behind my point. Sure a character’s skin is a minor thing in the long run but it opens the doors to future problems. Will entire games be destroyed because it happens to offend people? Art willfully being smothered and censored to cater to sensibilities? That isn’t what art, freedom, and creativity are about. If Symmetra’s skin bothers you then don’t equip it. If it still bothers you then sell the game. Don’t try to deprive millions of others because your feelings got hurt.