(Not the lack of concern for people who’s sexuality is empowered men, or who prefer to play their fantasy adventure games without tits and ass in their face)
My main thoughts on this were already summarized very succinctly by Jack Saint in a single, evergreen tweet:
So, my recommended guideline for distinguishing between to two types – since the shitty ones will always claim to be the well meaning ones when called out is:
Are they disappointed that Blizzard has not yet done anything meaningful to help real people who have been suffering due to their obscene behaviour, or are they concerned the imaginary people are no longer interested in helping them fap?
Because trust me, the latter were going to have this reaction regardless.
Fuck Activision-Blizzard and anyone who looks like ‘em
Fuck ’em with a cactus
If you follow news regarding video games, or anything vaguely relating to feminism you’ll be aware that in the last few months there’s been numerous outings of video game developers running their offices as some sort of hellscape where white men are encouraged to act on worst impulses.
Content warnings for racism, sexual harassment mention of suicide
Charges include a massive amount general harassment and truly horrifying behaviour including, but not limited to:
One employee feeling so harassed she committed suicide on a work trip where she had to accompany her main harasser – who also brought sex toys on that work trip.
Having a “Bill Cosby” suite at conventions which was a hotel room that existed primarily for managers (including a HR manager) to offer a lot of booze to attractive female con goers in the hopes of then coercing them into sex.
Harassing a Black woman employee to the extent she was required to write a one page essay explaining what she would do with the leave she was entitled to, before they would consider approving it.
“But I’m not under oath, so can I lie?” – Quantic Dream co-CEO Guillaume de Fondaumière
David Cage also reported threw a tantrum in the court because he felt it was impinging on his honour. Try imagining working at a place where the man in charge, who famously doesn’t keep promises (cw: Elliot Page deadnamed due to old article here), does that sort of thing when called out. Yeah.
So if you’ve ever wondered why we’re sceptical of claims that “x is actually a great place to work” or “well it wasn’t proven so those reports of employee abuse can’t be trusted” statements – now you know.
The worst part is these are just the biggest companies, which have had the most public outings of their abuse – thousands of reports of abuse by others have been surfacing in the wake of these stories.
Most heart-breaking of all are the women who talk about having experienced these companies, or just the wider industry, first hand they couldn’t bring themselves to be surprised or shocked.
This isn’t just video games. This isn’t just the entertainment industry. This is every industry where people are told they’re “lucky” to work there and become beholden to the whims of parasitic corporate shitlords who are used to getting away with everything.
There are, of course, also a staggering number of other abuses such as crunch, labour exploitation, and tax avoidance… such is the world we live in.
Bayonetta is beloved by many women, because while her outfits are ridiculous they also scream “fashion” and thus convey a sort of narrative that she looks like that because she wants to has the power to. It’s not unlike how Duke Nukem runs around in an ultra manly sleeveless top… except that well, it only got signed off on because it appealed to horny cishet men.
This outfit conveys that the artist likes naked (skinny, conventionally attractive) women and has tried to obfuscate it by adding random accessories and design quirks until it looks “unique” (in the same way a randomly generated hash code is unique). How it fits into fashion or even just clothing is secondary to how many extra polygons it has.
Now I know what you’re thinking, “Kim, you just want her to wear a suit.” and that is not incorrect, but more importantly I want Blizzard to look at how real fashion designers make real woman look powerful. More like, say, how Giorgio Armani dressed Gia Carangi:
Or Gina Torres was dressed in suits:
And how Gina Torres was dressed in Firefly:
And learn how to mix it up into functional, aesthetically pleasing designs that convey power and story and character.
Inspired by going on one of my classic Overwatch character design rants the other day and binging @bikiniarmorbattledamage yesterday, I took it upon myself to try to make Widowmaker’s design… less worse. Here’s what I changed:
I gave her pants. Widowmaker is a victim of the weirdly common Overwatch character design trope of “armor from the knees down, skin-tight from the knees up”. (Well, the armor is also somehow skin-tight, but.) Since Widowmaker is a sniper and Talon is supposed to be paramilitary, I decided to put her in some actual tactical pants. …Of course, I still forgot to draw pockets. Pretend they’re there.
I decided not to shorten her legs or widen her waist, despite how ridiculous both of those features are, because Widowmaker actually has a reason to look like that – her spider motif. On any other character, I wouldn’t stand for it.
I closed up her ridiculous cleavage window. Again, she’s a sniper. Lay down on a roof in that and you’ll get your chest absolutely cut up. While I was in the area, I gave her bodysuit some subtle segmentation for a “carapace” look.
I think the way I changed her shoes she’d still have her feet in the high-heel position, but I at least wanted to made them flat on the bottom so Widow doesn’t catch her foot on a gutter and faceplant into an alley while doing her whole parkour thing.
Purple isn’t a very “spidery” color, so I changed her to a dull greenish-brown with yellow accents to evoke an orb weaver’s color scheme.
I shortened her hair so it doesn’t get in the way while she’s fighting, and so it’s the almost exact shape of a spider abdomen, thus making her whole head a big spider design.
I made her skin a normal human color, with some subtle purplish tones on her nose, lips, ears, and cheeks. I also removed her earring.
I made her visor boxier both to look like a jumping spider and for a more realistic “tactical” look, which also gave me room to pop some more eyes on there. Plus I think it just looks better; the original looks like they were going for Giger and gave up.
Black widows are overplayed. I changed the hourglass light on her gun to the Talon logo, so she’s actually representing her organization somewhere on her design.
It’s a second fan redesign of Widowmaker we share that adds roomy pants to her costume, so it probably tell us something about what’s the next most glaringly inadequate part of her design, right after the navel-deep cleavage.
Not sure if I’m personally into the proposed color scheme, at least without invoking orb weaver’s interesting patterns in some ways. That would also add some much needed segmentation and contrast in her outfit. I agree, though, that the original colors were completely out of nowhere and should be revised.
The ponytail combined with helmet creating a spider-like shape is definitely much better evoked than in Blizzard’s design and shoes being somewhat wearable are appreciated.
Whilst Overwatch does have some diversity in its female cast, I find myself incredulous that people can’t see the sexism in the predominant tropes: skin tight outfits; boob plates; and very skinny women are the most commonly occuring design choices. There are no conventionally unattractive female heroes, whereas there are male heroes like Winston, Junkrat, and Roadhog. There are good elements to Overwatch’s character design too, but plenty to critique.
THANK YOU and THANK YOU for the tag about the racism
The pants aren’t just tight, either, they’re so tight they practically go up into their assholes, like a reverse camel toe (I wouldn’t be surprised if they made versions with camel toe, just like the artists kept naughty drawings of Jessica Rabbit on their cubical walls). I won’t get into the sexism too much except to add that the combination of infantilizing and sexualising women at the same time disturbs the fuck outta me, and Blizzard did it unashamedly. You can make a character sexy without turning them into a sexual object but apparently Blizzard didn’t get that memo.
And then there’s the racism. What I find absolutely outstanding is that this game was Blizzard’s attempt at diversity and being less sexist. And people (mostly white people, I’ve noticed) have just lapped it the fuck up. As a non-white, non-American I’d like to tell Blizzard to stay in its fucking lane because it’s so painfully obvious that they looked at other cultures and races through a white ‘murican lens that I want to break something. But of course, the fans are very quick to jump on anyone who claims or even mentions it. Nah, there’s nooo problem with the offensive skins, no problem with the white-washing of characters, no problem with the fact that some skins are from the wrong fucking culture to the character it’s on! We’re just being over sensitive! It’s just a fun game! It’s just a stereotype! Eat my entire ass. People would rather bury their heads in the sand than admit that they like something racist. Fun fact, we have an Indigenous tv show here called Cleverman and the writers and producers are Indigenous and had to ask their elders for permission to show the world parts of their culture/history/knowledge before they could begin the project. They had to earn the right to make a tv show like this. Because funnily enough, just having diversity doesn’t get you a get out of jail free card on racism. If the characters and their culture aren’t treated with respect, it means dick all.
In particular, Symmetra broke my fucking heart. My dad is from India, I get a lot of news from India. I grew up with a lot of stories. I have Indian friends. The rape culture is – bad. Very bad. Worse than you can imagine. And I stand with the women of India, who have to fight tooth and nail to be treated like human beings not their fathers/husband’s possessions. Who have to fight even outside of the country. So when I saw her design and broken-doll pose, I felt my heart sink. And when I saw the pathetic attempt at a Kali skin I felt my face get hot with anger. Kali is supposed to be like this:
Kali is represented with perhaps the fiercest features amongst all the world’s deities. She has four arms, with a sword in one hand and the head of a demon in another. The other two hands bless her worshippers, and say, “fear not”! She has two dead heads for her earrings, a string of skulls as necklace, and a girdle made of human hands as her clothing. Her tongue protrudes from her mouth, her eyes are red, and her face and breasts are sullied with blood. She stands with one foot on the thigh, and another on the chest of her husband, Shiva.
She’s ferocious power, she’s terrifying, she’s empowering – and what did Blizzard do? Ignore all that (like most men do) and turn the skin into an utterly incorrect, utterly ignorant pinup costume. A sexual object yet again, one of the many things Indian women are fighting against. Her skulls aren’t even on her neck! She only has two arms! They moved her skulls to her hip so they didn’t cover her breasts! The fact that people are going around calling it “the devi skin” says volumes about the utter ignorance surrounding this. Ignorance might not be done maliciously, but it doesn’t excuse people or make it less racist. It just proves that the majority of people don’t care about the cultures that Blizzard is using for profit.
Thank you for this really important addition.
This post has picked up almost 5,000 notes since the addition which I’m super glad about because the added detail deserves all the attention; but I just want to point out that this is the post where the first thousand reblogs (and my inbox) are full of people telling me that no one cares, or that it’s just a game.
Well, clearly, we care. Don’t let anyone tell you you shouldn’t.
Anyone who followed us for extended amount of time would know that we agree entirely. We’re sick of Overwatch being given all the credit for doing diversity right/doing women better when at best it’s just the minimal token effort, sprinkled generously with overt sexism and racism on top.
Speaking of which, Blizzard fandom is easily one of the most belligerent ones, consistently replying to any post we make about their games with defiance, trolling and abuse. And often insisting that their headcanons should be accounted for in judging the quality of OW’s designs, story and characters.
@feministgamingmatters‘ and @flamingtrashcans’ posts above are almost 4 years old and no less topical than they were back in 2016. If anything, the amount of problems with Overwatch piled on since then and we have an archive of posts to prove it.
At this point, it’s pretty safe to say that Blizzard is not only comfortable with supporting authoritarian regimes, but actively courting them in the hopes of increasing revenues… basically they’re the bad guys in all their properties.
But, to ensure that this isn’t completely a downer we do also want to draw attention to:
Please consider letting this inspire you to be more politically aware and active in your life. Starting by declining to spend in a manner that leads to that money going to Blizzard.
(And of course, since there’s capital G gamers involved: please do double check any commentary you see on this that seems suspicious. Particularly if it is targeting the workers at Blizzard rather than the company’s controllers)
This was a relatively laid-back stream. I was actually pretty surprised that we had not tackled WoW in a stream before! I ended up picking the Jade Armor just because of that underboob… it was just taunting me… I had to do it. It wasn’t my fault! Please, don’t–!
So besides switching the outfits between the 2 characters, I also switched their facial expressions! I gave the maaale an attractive, nonthreatening smile, while making the lady more intimidating. I also added the at-this-point Patented Icy Redesign Dick. I mean, if we can’t tell he has a penis, how are we supposed to know he’s a man, Blizzard?? How???
This change was pretty basic copypasting job with adjustments according to character silhouettes. Bonus change was giving the guy’s cool braids to the lady, as she deserves an interesting haircut as well!
For our Overwatch man meat week, I decided to empower Torbjörn, whom Blizzard has kind of been ignoring in the sexiness department. I thought this skin was a good start, and gave me some fun elements to work with.
Although as time went on during the stream, I decided that I actually just wanted to make a male character version of this comic (series is NSFW):
So here we are.
The biggest changes I did are to his face and his now-phallic mechanical accessories. I wanted to make him look like the loving daddy we all want him to be (probably?) so I gave him a more gentle gaze and slightly smaller chin. I also gave him the soft, loving lips he deserved.
I made him shirtless, added some male-presenting nipples with piercing, and some chest hair. And then I spent an obscene amount of time rendering out some phallic machinery. You might notice the one on the left is much more in-line with the original art style, and that’s cause I ran out of time! As I always do.
I also gave him a bottle of lube in his tool belt (from Google images). I’m surprised the original design didn’t have that, actually, since keeping your equipment lubed is very important.