Damonge, another Japanese gaming site which tends to have some strong focus on international news, recently published an editorial about one of the many controversies to rock the gaming world about female characters, specifically the Blizzard issue with Tracer and Overwatch. I’ve translated the article in full below:
There’s No Future in the Current Environment Where Criticism is Swallowed Down Without Any Skepticism, The Game Industry Has Started to Fall Down the Path to Hell
The Dangerous Censorship of Expression Seen in Blizzard’s Response.
By BIG MON on April 3rd, 2016
The Social Justice Voices Swallowing the Game Industry
These days, voices are shouting their opinions from on high to attack the portrayal of female characters in games and as they put pressure on game creators, throughout the world people involved in games are being swallowed into it.
Maybe it’s announcing the policy decision that Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 European and North American releases would be canceled, or Street Fighter V making changes on its expressions due to bashing. All of these are companies’ responses related to the radical feminism (third-wave feminism) that is stirring up a whirlwind in Europe and North America.
This movement claims that “games spread misogynistic attitudes toward women,” and it has progressed on this basis, to the point that not even now huge worldwide corporations can’t ignore its voice. One incident that symbolizes that is probably the example of Blizzard.
Bringing the Influence Over Even Worldwide Corporations
In March Blizzard announced a decision to delete and change a pose from its new game Overwatch, receiving criticism that “a pose that unnecessarily emphasizes female sexuality” existed in the game.
Blizzard is a game company under the helm of Activision Blizzard, and according to a market report done in 2015, they are an elite company ranked 5th among the world’s game corporations. Even that type of corporation, if they receive one driblet of criticism about the portrayal of female character, will be forced into changing things as a response.
Of course, the act of making changes to expressions in general is not a bad thing. If there’s a bigoted portrayal going on, that should probably be corrected, but I cannot bring myself to think that in this case with Blizzard that there was any problem at all with the portrayal.
I want to precede this by saying that I feel a sense of crisis in this current climate that whenever anyone screams, “there’s a problem,” that’s all it takes for a strong and forceful guilty verdict creating pressure to change it.
When you look at the current situation in which famous huge corporations are one after the other getting weak-kneed and running around like chickens with their heads cut off to put out the flames, all that’s waiting for a game industry that continues to drink down the criticism without skepticism is death. Right now the game industry has begun to turn a ship’s wheel that will guide it on a slow and drawn out suicide.
There’s No Future in a Game Industry That Continues to Swalllow Criticism WIthout Skepticism
In Overwatch, if you ask what guided Blizzard to the point they decided to change things, it was due to the criticism that claimed a pose that gave off an impression of bright activity for one female character to those who saw it, was actually emphasizing women’s sexuality.
It’s a situation where the first user who criticized the pose claimed it did not fit the character and said, “It’s an unnecessary sexual appeal,” and Blizzard unquestioningly accepted that claim. The Overwatch director is apologizing to people for making them feel uncomfortable.
If you ask what the problem is to this response, it is that a huge worldwide corporation is affirming that if it is shouted and screamed that a character takes actions that don’t suit them, they should be changed.
It was written in the post of the person who brought forth the criticism that it’s a problem that a bright and active character takes a sexual pose, and that they had no plan on touching on the poses of characters who are sexy and voluptuous.
If there was a policy that if all of the characters appearing in the game showed even a slightly sexual pose that it would be removed, I couldn’t accept it, but I would understand the consistency. But nothing was said of characters who originally were positioned to emphasize their voluptuousness.
This is equal to saying that any speech or action taken by a character that does not fit them is a sin.
The Claims That Will Allow Only One-Sided Portrayals
If Blizzard is going to remove speech and action that don’t fit characters in response and affirm these opinions, then the final resting place is going to be a world where only one side is ever allowed to be portrayed.
For instance, if there is a character who is “full bright and active energy,” then it is not to be allowed to have anything but that image, and all other images they could have would need to be changed and removed. Tracer (the criticized character in this instance) is boyish, bright and active, if she shows even the slightest bit of eroticism in a pose, it becomes a taboo image that instantly criticized.
So if a character comes to be seen in one way, any other way of looking that character becomes unforgivable. What an unimaginable hell!
A Plan to Destroy Bigotry is in the Process Becoming Bigotry Itself
So one character who houses a personality with contradictions, who surprises with their dynamism, which is said to be, in somewhat otaku vocabulary, “gap moe,” someone like “a character who gave off a gruff and mean impression, but actually also had a more gentle side” is not to be allowed.
And in this construction, are they not becoming the very stereotypes that feminists claim to be aiming for when they try to break down the long-ingrained thoughts of “like a guy/like a girl?” This character is only allowed these actions and words, pushing that view, pushing a stereotype onto the image of others is the very definition of racism itself.
Right now, the game industry is regressing back to an age where the world thought “black people = slaves.”
If diversity and dynamism is lost and only a one-sided portrayal is allowed, one day it will probably be visited upon us, a day in which the entertainment born from a storm of inexplicable criticism and shrieking will lose the charm it had and disappear.
Stand up for the criticism you should accept, but running around like a chicken with your head cut off to extinguish flames without distinguishing the validity of criticism will lead at last to a crushed and pulverized game culture.
It’s quite a strongly-worded article, don’t you think?