bikiniarmorbattledamage:

Brigitte and Overwatch’s continous female design problem

We talked already about Brigitte’s costume, but there’s a whole lot of other issues about her character design that shouldn’t be overlooked. Again, it’s a nice idea to have a new lady in actual armor in the game, though we wouldn’t be BABD if we didn’t point out some obvious and less obvious problems that can be spotted with her. 

She’s, after Moira, another white European lady in a row, while still the closest to black female representation among playable heroes is Orisa, a robot (and before anyone says it – nope, none of the dark-skinned female characters are black).
For a game that prides itself in having diverse international cast, Overwatch can not imagine people of color color coming from places that wouldn’t be POC-dominant already (also lots of their heroes of color somehow happen to be morally dubious compared to white ones). And just because Brigitte is a pre-established character doesn’t yet excuse prioritizing adding her to the game over someone with different background. 

It’s kind of funny how after being unnamed for no reason in her last major media appearance, the Reinhardt animated short, now Brigitte got elevated from a supporting lore character to one of main heroes. This, paired with ridiculous lack of consistency in her cross-media appearances gives us a strong feeling that no-one at Blizzard is overseeing writing and art direction of Overwatch as a franchise. Fans who spot constant retcons in the story would agree.

Speaking of no visual consistency, seems like from comics to the animated short to the actual game Brigitte finished her long journey from a unique-looking person to another standard issue pretty face. 

image

And no, different artists working on each of those appearances isn’t an excuse for how only her hair and skintone remain relatively consistent. Her crucial features like jawline, freckles, nose shape and size, how big her eyes are and how strong her chin is shouldn’t alter so widely just because of art style change. Blizzard is perfectly capable of making and using style guides – and when they don’t, it’s either by choice or negligence.

And if you wondered what we meant by “standard issue pretty face”, this pic, for obvious reasons, has gained some major mileage around the Internet: 

image

Congrats, Blizzard! You officially care about diverse female appearances as little Disney does! (image sources: [x] & [x]) 

image
image

Or maybe the jokes are true and the (weak) excuse for looking like clones is the same as for the Frozen ladies? Mercy is Brigitte’s real mom!

Not to mention that Blizzard can’t make up their mind on what Brigitte’s body type is supposed to be. Is she thin and curvy as virtually every other Overwatch lady? Is she almost as buff as Zarya? Something inbetween? Who knows.

I saw some fans trying to excuse her twig arms from Christmas comic as being possibly earliest in the timeline, but no official channel would confirm or deny any speculation. Overwatch is pretty satisfied with fans using their headcanons to justify whatever information the story canon won’t commit to. Why make an effort when fans can do your job for you? 

~Ozzie

“Brigitte Lindholm, squire to Reinhardt Wilhelm, is a former mechanical engineer who has decided to take up arms and fight on the front lines to protect those in need.”

If I didn’t know anything about this character and was just reading her background blurb, I would be imagining a character design more akin to this:

image

Why build a regular armor and shield when I can pilot a 12-foot-tall exoskeleton? Her father builds turrets during combat, it would have been cool if she had skills related to building and adjusting her own armor in-combat.

Her design doesn’t inform me of her character at all, which is a problem with several of the Overwatch cast (mostly ladies, I wonder why that is). She wears armor, but so does Pharah; is she also a soldier? She has no welding mask or a tool belt that would indicate that she’s a mechanic type. I get that she doesn’t want to just fix things on the sidelines, but she does throw out armor for her allies. It isn’t a stretch to flavor it as her fixing her team’s equipment in the heat of battle, and she does get a welding mask in a different skin but not the primary one?

Her color scheme is almost the same as Mercy’s, with silver (instead of white), yellow and black being the core, which really isn’t helping that same-face problem, Blizzard. Not to mention the shapes are very similar to Pharah’s. There’s just nothing new here design-wise, and I am disappointed.

-Icy

So since the screaming baby rage machine is still going full throttle, it’s probably worth bringing this back to highlight how this issue goes and the general expectations regarding fictional buff ladies.

After decades of pandering, capital-G gamers will accept buff ladies if:

  • They’re clearly in the service of a manly (cishet) man
  • They have some cute costuming to make them non-threatening
  • They are easily Disneyfied

They will lose their shit if the lady:

It’s never really about what they say it is – it’s always about “does this clearly prioritize me above everyone else, to the extent of excluding others”.

– wincenworks

bikiniarmorbattledamage:

(submitted by Jury) 

Whoah. The absurd of Tera, the universal example of logic-defying female battle outfits, advertising itself to have “practical armor”… that is skin-tight and boobsock-y on women leaves me astonished. 

This armor is so totally practical that even Erik Larsen, the devoted anti-practicality in women’s costumes guy, probably wouldn’t mind it. 

Dear Tera’s Creepy Maketing Guy: Just because boobplate and figure-hugging metal cover more than what you usually call “armor”, it doesn’t mean you should label it as “practical”. 

~Ozzie

I feel it’s time to bring this back, not just because laughing at Tera’s idea of quality armor never gets old, there’s a funny thing I noticed.  I feel like I’ve seen this… somewhere recently… 

image
image

Yes to everyone assuring us that Blizzard is really trying… we have confirmation they are trying about as hard as Tera was last year.

Hooray.

– wincenworks

More on Overwatch on BABD | More on Tera on BABD

Brigitte and Overwatch’s continous female design problem

We talked already about Brigitte’s costume, but there’s a whole lot of other issues about her character design that shouldn’t be overlooked. Again, it’s a nice idea to have a new lady in actual armor in the game, though we wouldn’t be BABD if we didn’t point out some obvious and less obvious problems that can be spotted with her. 

She’s, after Moira, another white European lady in a row, while still the closest to black female representation among playable heroes is Orisa, a robot (and before anyone says it – nope, none of the dark-skinned female characters are black).
For a game that prides itself in having diverse international cast, Overwatch can not imagine people of color color coming from places that wouldn’t be POC-dominant already (also lots of their heroes of color somehow happen to be morally dubious compared to white ones). And just because Brigitte is a pre-established character doesn’t yet excuse prioritizing adding her to the game over someone with different background. 

It’s kind of funny how after being unnamed for no reason in her last major media appearance, the Reinhardt animated short, now Brigitte got elevated from a supporting lore character to one of main heroes. This, paired with ridiculous lack of consistency in her cross-media appearances gives us a strong feeling that no-one at Blizzard is overseeing writing and art direction of Overwatch as a franchise. Fans who spot constant retcons in the story would agree.

Speaking of no visual consistency, seems like from comics to the animated short to the actual game Brigitte finished her long journey from a unique-looking person to another standard issue pretty face. 

image

And no, different artists working on each of those appearances isn’t an excuse for how only her hair and skintone remain relatively consistent. Her crucial features like jawline, freckles, nose shape and size, how big her eyes are and how strong her chin is shouldn’t alter so widely just because of art style change. Blizzard is perfectly capable of making and using style guides – and when they don’t, it’s either by choice or negligence.

And if you wondered what we meant by “standard issue pretty face”, this pic, for obvious reasons, has gained some major mileage around the Internet: 

image

Congrats, Blizzard! You officially care about diverse female appearances as little Disney does! (image sources: [x] & [x]) 

image
image

Or maybe the jokes are true and the (weak) excuse for looking like clones is the same as for the Frozen ladies? Mercy is Brigitte’s real mom!

Not to mention that Blizzard can’t make up their mind on what Brigitte’s body type is supposed to be. Is she thin and curvy as virtually every other Overwatch lady? Is she almost as buff as Zarya? Something inbetween? Who knows.

I saw some fans trying to excuse her twig arms from Christmas comic as being possibly earliest in the timeline, but no official channel would confirm or deny any speculation. Overwatch is pretty satisfied with fans using their headcanons to justify whatever information the story canon won’t commit to. Why make an effort when fans can do your job for you? 

~Ozzie

“Brigitte Lindholm, squire to Reinhardt Wilhelm, is a former mechanical engineer who has decided to take up arms and fight on the front lines to protect those in need.”

If I didn’t know anything about this character and was just reading her background blurb, I would be imagining a character design more akin to this:

image

Why build a regular armor and shield when I can pilot a 12-foot-tall exoskeleton? Her father builds turrets during combat, it would have been cool if she had skills related to building and adjusting her own armor in-combat.

Her design doesn’t inform me of her character at all, which is a problem with several of the Overwatch cast (mostly ladies, I wonder why that is). She wears armor, but so does Pharah; is she also a soldier? She has no welding mask or a tool belt that would indicate that she’s a mechanic type. I get that she doesn’t want to just fix things on the sidelines, but she does throw out armor for her allies. It isn’t a stretch to flavor it as her fixing her team’s equipment in the heat of battle, and she does get a welding mask in a different skin but not the primary one?

Her color scheme is almost the same as Mercy’s, with silver (instead of white), yellow and black being the core, which really isn’t helping that same-face problem, Blizzard. Not to mention the shapes are very similar to Pharah’s. There’s just nothing new here design-wise, and I am disappointed.

-Icy

Okay, so we’ve received approximately… more requests than I can bother to count to comment on Blizzard finally announcing Brigitte Lindholm as a playable character and releasing her on the test server.

Now, initially I put off commenting on this because she had only one skin and the minimum features to allow people to play her on the test server.  This felt suspicious to me, because put simply: The default skin is, in isolation, good:

image

There are minor issues, such as her hair, waist and the weird hip cape designed to remind us she has a (presumably sexy) butt.

However, once the Legendary skins came out, the conversation became more complicated (expect more posts in the near future) because well, the come in two themes (knight and mechanic) and… let’s just look at them:

image
image

Yes, it seems that while someone at the Overwatch art team managed to get her primary look to be pretty good, the powers that be decided her Legendary Skins (ie the prestigious ones) need to have the standard sexualized nonsense.

On top of that, despite that visually she is a distaff Reinhardt (who still does not have a sculpted codpiece) and her video announcing she is not content to be a support character and wants to tank… she is Support:

image

Reminder: She maintains all Reinhardt’s gear… so there’s no in game explanation why her shield is roughly one third the strength.

Also, while there is some joking about her being a copy of a Paladins character (that would be the ultimate irony), I can’t help but think I’ve seen this shield and flail combination somewhere in a Blizzard game before…

image
image

Overwatch, supposed to be Blizzard doing women characters better.

– wincenworks

On Brigitte

So, shortly after Ozzie posted on why you shouldn’t expect people to go out of their way to do more research and consume more media in order to find a good message in a creator’s work… a bunch of people rushed in to tell us that the “unnamed redhead” in the Reinhardt animated short had a name… she was clearly Brigitte, Torbjorn’s daughter and beloved Overwatch supporting character!

But, what identified her as Brigitte, what kind of character is she?  Was this depiction of her accurate to previous material?

The woman depicted in the short is the second-most muscular woman we’ve seen in Overwatch (second only to Zarya) with a cog tattoo on her left shoulder and a t-shirt which has the sleeves torn off and reads “I like exercise because I love eating” and she has the standard issue Disney-face.

image

This is Brigitte in her only other speaking appearance, note how she started with a strong jawline, narrow lips and freckles:

image

And here she is in her other follow up appearance, arms like twigs and half-way to the final Disney-face, no more freckles or jawline:

image

So really what identified her as Brigitte were these elements:

  • Proximity to Reinhardt during his pre-game period
  • Tendency to tell Reinhardt that he shouldn’t do what the audience is specifically eager for him to do (ie, be a hero)
  • Her hair is kind of the same and she has practical pants (a rarity for women in the world of Overwatch)
  • Nobody refers to her by name while she’s around

There’s also that one in-game spray graphic where she’s shown sporting even more “prettified” face, posing for a photo with her dad (good luck knowing that relation without digging up lore): 

image

The greater irony of this is that the single exchange between Reinhardt and Mercy where Brigitte’s name is mentioned actually undermines her role in the video.  According to the in-game content she goes off with Reinhardt on his adventures… not keeping him company in the castle while he avoids risks. Note how in the short she isn’t shown to change her mind and support Reinhardt’s decision at the end.

(Also worth noting is people have been asking, by name, for her to appear more often and be shown helping Reinhardt in the game for over a year now but this is the closest Blizzard have come, that and they had to confirm her who father was in a tweet because again… zero priority elsewhere.)

At this point, if you look at what Blizzard have provided: Brigitte has no consistent look beyond pants, skin tone and hairstyle. Her only consistent behavior is telling Reinhardt not to go be a hero. In the video she isn’t even shown doing the other support aspects such as enabling travel, fixing his armor, gathering intelligence, being the social one of the pair, etc.

The point is here is Blizzard doesn’t care enough about a female character to give her a consistent appearance, have her name be used so the audience can identify her or give her any sort of motivations of her own – you shouldn’t take the time to act like she’s an important character who everyone should know.

I promise you that defending Blizzard’s failures to do the basics when it comes to their promises of better depictions of women and better diversity will not result anything good for anyone other than Blizzard’s shareholders.

– wincenworks 

@otherwindow has done a beautiful edit of what Brigitte would have looked like in the short if they stayed true to her initial comic appearance.

I said this on the Moira post, but really… what could have been.

-Icy

This is exactly what I meant by “asking us to “do our homework” before we comment will make the commentary far more critical, not more lenient.” 

image

~Ozzie 

h/t: @red-queen-on-the-heathen-throne for bringing our attention to how off-model Brigitte is between her cross-media appearances. 

On Brigitte

So, shortly after Ozzie posted on why you shouldn’t expect people to go out of their way to do more research and consume more media in order to find a good message in a creator’s work… a bunch of people rushed in to tell us that the “unnamed redhead” in the Reinhardt animated short had a name… she was clearly Brigitte, Torbjorn’s daughter and beloved Overwatch supporting character!

But, what identified her as Brigitte, what kind of character is she?  Was this depiction of her accurate to previous material?

The woman depicted in the short is the second-most muscular woman we’ve seen in Overwatch (second only to Zarya) with a cog tattoo on her left shoulder and a t-shirt which has the sleeves torn off and reads “I like exercise because I love eating” and she has the standard issue Disney-face.

image

This is Brigitte in her only other speaking appearance, note how she started with a strong jawline, narrow lips and freckles:

image

And here she is in her other follow up appearance, arms like twigs and half-way to the final Disney-face, no more freckles or jawline:

image

So really what identified her as Brigitte were these elements:

  • Proximity to Reinhardt during his pre-game period
  • Tendency to tell Reinhardt that he shouldn’t do what the audience is specifically eager for him to do (ie, be a hero)
  • Her hair is kind of the same and she has practical pants (a rarity for women in the world of Overwatch)
  • Nobody refers to her by name while she’s around

There’s also that one in-game spray graphic where she’s shown sporting even more “prettified” face, posing for a photo with her dad (good luck knowing that relation without digging up lore): 

image

The greater irony of this is that the single exchange between Reinhardt and Mercy where Brigitte’s name is mentioned actually undermines her role in the video.  According to the in-game content she goes off with Reinhardt on his adventures… not keeping him company in the castle while he avoids risks. Note how in the short she isn’t shown to change her mind and support Reinhardt’s decision at the end.

(Also worth noting is people have been asking, by name, for her to appear more often and be shown helping Reinhardt in the game for over a year now but this is the closest Blizzard have come, that and they had to confirm her who father was in a tweet because again… zero priority elsewhere.)

At this point, if you look at what Blizzard have provided: Brigitte has no consistent look beyond pants, skin tone and hairstyle. Her only consistent behavior is telling Reinhardt not to go be a hero. In the video she isn’t even shown doing the other support aspects such as enabling travel, fixing his armor, gathering intelligence, being the social one of the pair, etc.

The point is here is Blizzard doesn’t care enough about a female character to give her a consistent appearance, have her name be used so the audience can identify her or give her any sort of motivations of her own – you shouldn’t take the time to act like she’s an important character who everyone should know.

I promise you that defending Blizzard’s failures to do the basics when it comes to their promises of better depictions of women and better diversity will not result anything good for anyone other than Blizzard’s shareholders.

– wincenworks 

@otherwindow has done a beautiful edit of what Brigitte would have looked like in the short if they stayed true to her initial comic appearance.

I said this on the Moira post, but really… what could have been.

-Icy

This is exactly what I meant by “asking us to “do our homework” before we comment will make the commentary far more critical, not more lenient.” 

image

~Ozzie 

h/t: @red-queen-on-the-heathen-throne for bringing our attention to how off-model Brigitte is between her cross-media appearances. 

Okay, so predictably Blizzard has used Blizzcon to announce a new Overwatch character, and now Talon (the bad guys) have a support healer – and surprisingly despite them clearly having recycled a lot of Mercy’s look (with more than little bit of Zarya and a lot of David Bowie… I mean a LOT), they’ve managed to avoid the Evil is Sexy trope this time.

Honestly this design is pretty good but I get the feeling that the boobplate is literally a case of “if no boob, how woman!?” given how refreshingly androgynous Moria looks in most of her origin story and lineup pic

image

It’s also pretty cool how she fills a big hole in Overwatch lore and meets the outspoken player demand for an evil/amoral healer.

Of course Blizzard took Blizzcon as the opportunity for demonstrating how they’re doing representation of women better in their games and media.

image

They also, a few hours earlier, released what is essentially Reinhardt’s origin story, which features exactly one female character:

image
image

An unnamed* redhead with a Disney face who is there to tell him that he doesn’t need to be hero so he can tell her that he totally does. 

This is why it’s difficult to believe that, while many of their staff may be trying hard, Jeff Kaplan and Blizzard as an entity care about representation beyond marketing sound bytes and feminist cookies.

– wincenworks 

Oh, what could have been.

image

I wish they would have pushed the medical tubing further, instead of just giving her a little tube backpack. Like maybe extending the tubing down her right arm to emphasize that she deals damage with it. Overall, the design is just very…. Safe. And also not angular enough. Look at the origin story screenshot above; angles!

I’m just kind of disappointed, honestly. One more thin, young-looking white woman, and her black/purple color scheme is giving me Morgana flashbacks.

Also, her powers are very reminiscent of Hel from SMITE and Seris from Paladins. We’ve almost achieved the originality singularity!

-Icy 

I see this as a consistent problem with many female character additions to Overwatch… Individually, they’re pretty interesting designs (though it’s guaranteed that they looked better, less “safe”, in concept art), but when put together in a group, they turn into this boring blob of young-looking, thin, mostly pale ladies with a token unique feature here and there. 

As I said before, I’d take so much less issue with D.Va (cause her pretty girl design is consistent with her teenage idol persona) if she didn’t follow after introduction of Mercy, Tracer, Widowmaker etc, who all have fatal flaws dictated by “sex sells” in their designs. 

~Ozzie 

Tweet (context)


*We understand that Brigitte has a name (thanks for all the readers for informing us of it); however that actually confirms our criticism regarding the supposed need for “doing the research”the animated short can’t even bother to put her name into dialogue. The audience has to read some auxiliary non-game material beforehand to know who she’s supposed to be.