Overwatch may be one of the better games of the year but that hasn't stopped some people from rising up in arms about its content. Just before the release of the game, a victory pose for one of its characters was removed, following complaints of it being sexist.
Now, with the game available for the better part of two months, it appears that a Hindu leader in the US by the name of Rajan Zed has taken offence to Overwatch. Or more accurately, with one of its skins - items that change the appearance of characters. One such skin transforms Symmetra - a character of Indian origin, to make her appear like a Hindu goddess Devi.
(Also see: Overwatch Review)
According to a statement on Zed's personal website:
"Rajan Zed indicated that 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 claims to represent Hinduism and is based in Nevada. His site states he's the President of Universal Society of Hinduism - an organisation to serve the world "by using the basic tenants [sic] of Hinduism".
If Zed's site is to be taken at face value, then he's speaking for all Hindus who are offended by this skin. However, that isn't what the prevailing sentiment appears to be amongst people who have actually played the game.
That's also the perspective you can see on the Overwatch IND, an Indian Facebook page for the game.
"Blizzard is probably going to ignore him like the irrelevant person he is. How far can he escalate the matter? He can't do s**** about it. We as the actual players, have absolutely no problem with it [the skin]," wrote Rohan Mondal.
Earlier this year, Zed had taken offence to Atlus' depiction of Krishna in Japanese role-playing game Shin Megami Tensei IV Final. In 2012 he wanted three characters removed from multiplayer online battle arena (moba) game Smite - Agni, Kali, and Vamana. The game now features seven playable characters from Hinduism. And in 2009 he called on Sony to remove Hanuman: Boy Warrior for the PS2, from the shelves as well.
In all of the above instances and for Overwatch as well, he seems to stick to the same complaint - controlling a character that's a perceived as a deity is "denigration". Blizzard has yet to comment to Zed's statement.
For what it's worth, the game isn't even available officially at stores in India. Many gamers have resorted to obtaining it via the grey market or downloading it via digital storefronts. Furthermore the skin in question is classified as a legendary item - these are rare, requiring you to play many a round of the game to obtain, even then it's still a matter of luck.
That's because Overwatch grants you loot boxes each time you level up. Loot boxes themselves are randomised. This mean there's no real guarantee you can acquire it, unless you have enough in-game currency to do so. You need at least 1000 coins to get the skin, and the number of coins you get is totally dependent on chance. In our 50+ hours of game time we've only managed around 960 coins. And no, you can't buy coins either. So even if you want the skin, you will have to work hard for it and have a fair bit of luck as well.
Do you find Symmetra's Devi skin offensive? Let us know via the comments.