Hindu religious leader Rajan Zed asks for Blizzard to remove Symmetra's Devi skin from Overwatch, as it 'trivializes Hinduism's highly revered goddess.'
The colorful cast of playable characters and their alternate skins in Blizzard's popular shooter Overwatch draw inspiration from all sorts of cultural sources, but one character's Hindu-based skin is stirring up controversy. Support character Symmetra is being criticized by president of the Universal Society of Hinduism, Rajan Zed, who has asked Blizzard to completely remove her Devi skin from Overwatch.
Symmetra's Devi skin is based on the Hindu goddess of the same name, considered to be one of the most important deities in the Hindu religion. Zed takes issue with players being able to control a virtual representation of Devi, and he is also unhappy with the way the character moves in the game, believing it to be at odds with what is described in the scriptures.
In his argument, Zed points to Blizzard's own "core values," which state that Blizzard will "lead responsibly" in its position as one of the top video game companies in the world. According to Zed, Blizzard is "creating confusion" with its inaccurate representation of Devi, which he says is an example of Blizzard failing to lead the industry responsibly, as its core values promise.
This isn't the first time Hindu religious leader Rajan Zed has criticized a video game for its representation of Hindu deities. Previously, Zed asked Hi-Rez Studios to remove Hindu deities from the MOBA game Smite. Hi-Rez ignored Zed, and so far there are seven playable characters in Smite inspired by Hinduism, with the possibility that more will be added to the game in the future.
While Hi-Rez Studios didn't listen to Zed, it remains to be seen if Blizzard will take his advice and remove Symmetra's Devi skin from Overwatch. Blizzard has responded to criticism in the past, removing Tracer's butt pose based on fan feedback, but the company has not shied away from religious themes in its other games, and probably won't stop now. Unless a significant portion of the Overwatch community complains about Symmetra's Devi skin, don't expect Blizzard to act on Rajan Zed's request.
So while it's doubtful that Symmetra's Devi skin will be pulled from the game, perhaps Blizzard will be more mindful about the characters it creates for Overwatch in the future. The next character to be added to the lineup of playable heroes, the sniper support character Ana, seems like she will avoid being the subject of any controversy - unless she also has an alternate skin inspired by one of the world's religions or a sexualized victory pose, of course.
Overwatch is available now for PC, PS4, and Xbox One.
Source: Rajan Zed