A Hindu leader is asking Blizzard Entertainment and Activision to remove the popular Devi skin from their game Overwatch as it “trivializes Hinduism’s highly revered goddesses.” The game’s character Symmetra can put on a skin called “Devi/Goddess” that the Hindu leader says inappropriately represents the Hindu goddesses. The Hindu statesman Rajan Zed says that the skin should be removed as “Overwatch did not match with characterization of the goddesses in the scriptures.”
Kotaku reports that Rajan Zed, president of Universal Society of Hinduism, wants the Devi skin removed from the game as it is not an accurate depiction of the Hindu’s “highly revered goddesses.” Zed claims that though the “goddess” skin which can be placed on character Symmetra is not a direct depiction of any one Hindu goddess, it is a perceived compilation of the goddesses which can be “confusing” as goddesses should not be used for commercial purposes or other agenda.
Zed goes so far as to say that allowing players in Overwatch to manipulate the goddess’ actions is denigration as the goddess was meant to be worshiped in temples. The Hindu statesman says that they do not appreciate their goddess being reduced to a “character” for a video game and that she is not to be used in commercial purposes.
“Reimagining Hindu scriptures, symbols, concepts and deities for commercial or other agenda was not okay as it created confusion. Controlling and manipulating Devi with a joystick/ button/keyboard/mouse was denigration. Devi was meant to be worshipped in temples and home shrines and not to be reduced to just a ‘character’ in a video game to be used in combat in the virtual battleground.”
Zed’s full letter indicates that the Universal Society of Hinduism is requesting that Blizzard Entertainment remove the Devi skin from the game altogether. Zed claims that the removal is necessary as video game makers should use care and sensitivity when handling any subjects that relate to faith. He claims that video games are especially harmful to religion when care is not taken as it leaves a “lasting impact” on the “minds of highly impressionable” young people.
“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. Video game makers should be more sensitive while handling faith related subjects, as these games left lasting impact on the minds of highly impressionable children, teens and other young people.”
Fans of the game have had mixed reactions to the possible removal of the goddess skin, with some noting that they understand why the Hindu leader would want the skin removed. However, others claim that the skin is good for the religion as it exposes people to different cultures.
In an article written by Kill Screen, the issue of “cultural appropriation” is significant and that Blizzard’s Overwatch is doing a lot of things right but has room for improvement.
“One of the most appealing aspects of Overwatch is its colorful cast of characters, which in total represent a mix of global demographics. Among them are the rebellious Brazilian outlaw DJ Lucio, the meticulous Indian architect Symmetra, stout Russian bodybuilder Zarya, dedicated jetpack trooper Pharah, and idealistic Chinese climatologist Mei. The wide reach of these depictions is undoubtedly a positive step for representation in videogames, but it, unfortunately, isn’t without its hiccups.”
Writer Shahryar Rizvi outlines that the exposure of many different cultures is a step in the right direction for video game makers, but he notes that “the line is blurry in Overwatch.” Rizvi points to the goddess skin as a potential hot button skin as she seems to be a mix of a variety of different goddesses and her abilities do not line up with her character Symmetra’s role in the game.
What do you think about the Hindu leader’s request to have the “inappropriate” skin removed from the game? Should Blizzard agree to the removal?
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