A Hindu leader in the US has asked Blizzard Entertainment -- the makers of the World Of Warcraft series -- to remove Symmetra's 'Devi skin' from their game Overwatch as it "trivializes Hinduism’s highly revered goddesses."
Skins are said to be alternate appearances that players can apply to characters in video games. 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.
Interestingly, all the popular characters of this game including Symmetra put on alternate skins which draw inspiration from all sorts of cultural sources. But Symmetra's Hindu-based skin has apparently angered President of the Universal Society of Hinduism, Rajan Zed who feels that the skin should be removed as “Overwatch did not match with characterization of the goddesses in the scriptures.”
This is what a statement on Zed's personal website reads:
"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 also 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.
Fans of the game had mixed reactions to the possible removal of the goddess skin. These are some of the comments on a post on Overwatch IND, an Indian Facebook page for the game.
Some felt that the outrage was totally uncalled for.
Some felt that Blizzard’s Overwatch was doing 'cultural appropriation' right but has room for improvement
Some felt that this goes against artistic freedom
Well, this is not the first time Rajan Zed has questioned 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.
Blizzard has not yet released a statement addressing Rajan’s statement.