Blizzard responds to over-sexualized character design criticism

Heroes of the Storm developer apologizes for his recent comments on character design.

"It takes work to make compelling characters, but it’s important to take a step back to ensure that we’re not alienating our players," Game Director of Heroes of The Storm Dustin Browder wrote today on the game's official site.

Browder's post follows up on comments he made in a recent interview with Rock, Paper, Shotgun, where he was asked about the tendency to over-sexualize female characters in MOBAs like Dota 2 and Blizzard's own Heroes of the Storm.

"Well, I mean, some of these characters, I would argue, are already hyper-sexualized in a sense," Browder said then. "I mean, Kerrigan is wearing heels, right? We’re not sending a message to anybody. We’re just making characters who look cool. . .We’re not running for President. We’re not sending a message. No one should look to our game for that."

When interviewer Nathan Grayson pressed on, Browder and his public relations handler deflected and eventually ended the interview. In their defense, they indicated that they were running out of time before Grayson raised the issue.

In the post he published today, Browder apologized for responding poorly, that he thinks the issue is important and that Blizzard is listening to feedback.

"On the stage at BlizzCon, I spoke about Heroes being a collaborative project, shaped by the passion, love, and support of gamers like you. We’re building this game together, we’re listening, and your thoughts are valued."

Written By

Emanuel Maiberg is a freelance writer in search of the Citizen Kane of burritos.

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Discussion

372 comments
Insert-Coin
Insert-Coin

The only acceptable response to this Nathan Gayson should have been similar to the one from the famous case of Arkell vs Pressdram 1971 .

bhmg
bhmg

Gamespot please, hire someone who knows how to write something decent and without crap like this "politically correct" trend bullshit!

ferna1234
ferna1234

i don' care about the big titties, what confuses me is that kerigan used to be a red head caucasian and somehow the zerg made her look like an afro-latino dreadlock pothead jamaican. how is that logical for god's sake?

Slash_out
Slash_out

Sexualizing characters is fine.

Stop being so defensive about it. We are not playing games to see grand nanas fighting, or controlling your fat neighbour on an epic quest for the world most epic sandwitch split..

Characters have to be beautiful. Most male players probably want their virtual girls pretty, it is a fantasy after all. Most female players probably want the same of their virtual dude.

It just astonishes me to read that kind of things every single time. "Oh no she is wearing revealing clothes". "Oh no high heels". "Oh look at the big bulge in that dude's pant, he must be a corn dog vendor", "Oh no ... this boob wobles too much... it scares me"....

Just accept that video games are there for fantasy fullfillment (saving the pretty girl, the world, building the best team, crossing the finish line first, conquering the galaxy... it's all wish fufullment, and thsoe wishes don't have to be dull with appropriately dull looking characters) and do whatever is necessary for players to enjoy the game.

Suaron_x
Suaron_x

You know what offends me about video games?  Farting, or shall I say the lack of it.  Seriously, I want my character's to fart, just like I do in real life.  And I want the other toons to acknowledge my gawd-aweful stench.  As I age I find I'm farting more and more, especially with more strenuous activities like lifting my beer.   Where is the humanity when my video game characters can't pass the gas?  How can I possibly live up to the tight cheeks model of all these cool video game characters?

ecs33
ecs33

CASTING Chromatic Lactation of the Twin Valleys. 

DAOWAce
DAOWAce

I stopped caring about Kerrigan when they didn't let Glynnis reprise her role.  In fact, I'm now disgusted with her as a character due to that and their overall changes to her visually to the point where I'm glad Glynnis isn't voicing her and I hope she gets killed off in LotV.


As for oversexualization: I can't take characters seriously if they're designed in a hyper-sexualized way.  Sometimes it's just so disgusting that I can't even bring myself to play the game (Dragon's Crown).  This isn't 'mature', it's just falling to the lowest common denominator; adolescent boys or jocks.  (Yes, males can be oversexualized too, but it's far more sensible and the developers that do it are few and far between.)

I wish it would stop.

tightwad34
tightwad34

What the hell is this? My lord people need to find better things to write or bitch about. You would never hear any sort of outcry if it was a male being depicted in any sort of light similar to this. Just shut it and go on worrying about more important things. Humanity is getting way stupider by the minute.

Daian
Daian

So Kerrigan has massive boobs and whatever, who freakin cares, there are more important things to worry about than really hot characters. 

Video games are power trips, they're not supposed to look realistic, we wanna look and feel badass.

Tzardok
Tzardok

I supposed the thing that annoys me the most is that Browder had to re-issue his statement (It may have been potentially damaging if you target a specific market, but I wouldn't go out of the way and call it offensive either). 

Truth be told, I will buy games with prettier women over games that don't take advantage of this, I know its quite teenage of me, but I honestly will not apologize for it, I like them pretty. What bothers me in female characters however is when they fall squarely on the "fan-service" range and by that I mean their personalities (often found in JRPGs) are absent and they just hop around showing of their "features" for no reason. In other words, I don't mind pretty girls and prefer them to be so, but they need to be fleshed out properly with deep personalities like Lara (Tomb Raider), Claire (Resident Evil) and Lighting (FFXIII) to name a few, as there is a reason behind them being there as well as a inner purpose to drive that story further.

I  know this may be drifting a little of topic, but I think it may also apply here (it doesn't hurt to remind ourselves now and then):

I will defend freedom of speech, always. I am not native to the US, but I have done my share of traveling and living on different countries and the US is the only TRUE freedom of speech country, this is the greatest treasure we have (as modern society) and instead of this awesome cultural trait being shared and expanded throughout the world (Europe has embraced it better than other regions outside NA), developing countries create restrictive policies to prevent such things to take off, additionally I see americans themselves moving lawsuits which may harm the freedom of speech. I don't like this trend one bit. I may not like what a person has to say or how I interpret his product, but he has a RIGHT to do so just as I have the RIGHT to disagree, but never, ever should we attempt to "silence" an idea. If its bad it will not sell and that will be the end of it. But gosh, US fought for Freedom since its conception, don't let the "lawsuit tendency" trample that hard earned cultural treasure.


2procentmilk
2procentmilk

How come no one cares about the overly masculine barbarian character who I, as a young male, should idealize while looking at my own 120lb reflection and chug protein shakes?

Boogy32
Boogy32

This raises some questions about what's fair to show, and what's not fair to show. Apparently it's okay to show underwear models on giant billboards. These are real photos mind you, of real people! (Although they are photoshopped)
But it's not okay to show some animated ladyparts?

What is the reason for all this? Is it because some people are trying to protect their children? Well guess what, odds are that they've probably seen much much worse stuff already.
Or is it because it makes the people that are complaining about this feel insecure? Maybe you should see a psychiatrist then.
Is it because it's not how the female body looks in real life? There are orcs in those games! Green orcs with horns and whatever. And demons, and all kinds of crazy shit, but you're using the "female body is not portraying real female bodies" card?

randomkidlol
randomkidlol

Ugh not this shit again.

Just use some common sense and its gonna be fine.

Hurvl
Hurvl

Lol, is his first response what he actually means and the second what the PR staff want him to say? Either way, the truth is that a lot of people like sexualized characters. Since women have traditionally been measured by their looks instead of their accomplishments or mental faculties, it's natural for them to be sexualized in games. I'm personally not bothered or excited about sexualized females, I'd rather just play the game. Character models, both male and female, show a severe lack of variety and it would be good to have more than just Mr Muscle Mountain and Mrs Sex Object. Creating a great game isn't depending on how the characters look, so I'd rather have devs focus on other stuff, but that doesn't mean they can't work a bit on more varied character models as well.

oKiRe
oKiRe

What did he say wrong exactly?

DFA1
DFA1

If you don't like it don't play it... obviously people like it if Blizzard games sell so well.  Blizzard, don't change your practices based on the opinion of a minority of people that wouldn't play your game regardless.  If Blizzard upsets you, go play Candy Crush you pansies.

Vojtass
Vojtass

I'm not against sexy outfits as long as it suits the genre and looks cool. People also should take into consideration, that stylistics have its own rights, patterns and standards. Expecting maturity and gravity from traditional Blizzard's quasi-serious style is ridiculouos in my opinion. Overdrawn body proportions, sexy armours and naughty accessories etc. are part of this style. If you will remove it, just because someone could feel uncomfortable or (oh my!) even offended, you will get completely other stylistics and atmosphere. High heels are licentia poetica. If creator changes his previous concepts, because someone from the public doesn't like it, then he's simply a coward and barely workman. Real creator is self-confident, concious of his actions and choices. Real artist takes the risk and accepts responsibility for his work.

MasterOfSprites
MasterOfSprites

It is just the human body.  It is 2013, and for some reason people can't see the female body as anything other than sexual.  We still have to cover it head to toe to get people to stop complaining.  It is very sad.

bhmg
bhmg

@ferna1234 Zergs making the inverse Michael Jackson transformation XD

ck10304
ck10304

@tightwad34 If every guy in a video game had a package so big that you couldn't even look at them seriously then yeah I think there would be similar outcry

ck10304
ck10304

@Tzardok You're right, it is teenage of you. And this has absolutely nothing to do with freedom of speech

mecher3k
mecher3k

@Tzardok Your comment is stupid I just have to post after not posting in a long time, and forgetting my password.

One, the US is the only country with freedom of speech? Hahahahaha, what a pathetic joke.


Two, this has nothing to do with freedom of speech. Freedom of speech does not can CAN NOT even apply here. In ONLY applies to the government and IT'S actions towards others. Not a private company taking action or people taking action against a private company.

Clearly you have done ZERO traveling in the US, never mind outside of it as you clueless about how the Constitution works.

You and every other Blizzdrone need to DIAF.

Ark1of712
Ark1of712

@Tzardok Did you honestly just say that the United States is the only country with TRUE freedom of speech? Oh by the way, your own citizens called, they'd like the NSA to stop monitoring their phone calls.

ck10304
ck10304

@2procentmilk That is because a barbarian is required to be strong and muscular, you don't see the wizards all beefy and shit. 

parrot_of_adun
parrot_of_adun

@2procentmilk Because it's regarded as insulting when women are expected to grow up dreaming about being pretty while dudes get to idealize powerful, respected physical traits.

Unless boobs are a superpower or something...

2procentmilk
2procentmilk

I'll answer my own question. Because these are fantastical games, and the appearances of the characters play as much into the inner personalities that we release while playing these games as their actions.  In real life I can't look like that, and I can't slay daemons on an epic adventure either. But in playing that game I can do both.  This is just the same as relating to a comic book hero, or a protagonist in a spy film, or the sad old folks in The Notebook.

ck10304
ck10304

@genesarereal You're so right, GS should branch out and do more articles about global politics. Smh

darkcreaturez
darkcreaturez

@randomkidlol not everyone have common sense though. even if they have senses, it might the uncommon one lol. everything is just depends on each of people's personality.

MasterOfSprites
MasterOfSprites

@DFA1 To play devil's advocate for a bit.  I think the problem with your argument is that gamers who don't like sexual designs feel like they don't have many alternatives.

VakarianGirl
VakarianGirl

@Vojtass One of the more competent posts I've seen - and you're absolutely right.  This IS Blizzard's style.  Unfortunately, but whatever.  

The problem I have is that SO MANY game titles go along these lines.  As a female gamer, I would really appreciate more believable, respectable female characters to play.  That's all.

VakarianGirl
VakarianGirl

@MasterOfSprites It is NOT "just the human body".  I have NEVER seen "the human body" looking as garishly sexual as most of these immature game designers make their characters out to be.  You can really tell that most of them are teenagers who've never been laid before....

And I'm NOT a feminist.  I'm simply someone who wishes to see more realism and believable characters in games......that, and every time I see yet ANOTHER female character on a game's cover wearing a torn catsuit that barely covers her triple Z breasts, I say a silent little prayer to the exasperation gods.

santinegrete
santinegrete

@ck10304 @walidras played in all world. Daian comment hits that point, check it, it very close down mine and yours.

DFA1
DFA1

@MasterOfSprites @DFA1 I agree, but a business is going to design it's product to it's targeted audience. Are there some females that read Maxim magazine?  Yes, would it be right for Maxim to change their whole magazine to appease a tiny audience no.  The majority of female gamers are playing casual games like Farmville, Candy Crush, or some other social media or smart phone game, clearly less sexual.  If they are able to enjoy WoW (with all it's sexuality *gasp*) then good for them, more power to them.  But I don't expect any company to apologize for making a good product.

Female sexuality seems to be completely different than what guys prefer.  A "50 Shades of Gray" game would most likely have a larger female audience, wouldn't have a scantly clad female with a perfect figure, it would probably have the main character and a male dressed in a nice suit or something.  Most guys would not play the game much less purchase it, but for some guys to come in and say "change this game, I don't like how they portray men as controlling sex maniacs" would be wrong.  Even more wrong would be for the author to then apologize to this few men that got offended by the book.

You can't please everyone with everything you do, Blizzard has been able to please mostly all of it's targeted audience, well except for Diablo 3, that was crap.  But I guess we live in a country where the minority has a bigger voice than the majority, and we must always apologize for those we offend...

Vojtass
Vojtass

@VakarianGirl @Vojtass I don't buy Blizzard's games. Personally I don't like this style as much as most super-heros in comic books and movies. On the other hand I accept creators choice. I will just ignore their work. Fortunately there are other, more interesting art design concepts. I like ideas of CD Projekt RED, they are much more realistic (however they still got some 'cool' sides) and subtle.

mep69
mep69

Why is it unfortunate?

DKRises
DKRises

@VakarianGirl @mep69 Personally I'd rather go around hacking/slashing as a badass looking character in the most unique of costumes than one in what I basically wear everyday...

VakarianGirl
VakarianGirl

@mep69 Because I think they would draw in a wider base of customers if they toned down some of their over-the-top character design.  But that's just my opinion.  

darkcreaturez
darkcreaturez

@VakarianGirl LOL..I agree with you. but not every gamers have same taste. as for me, even when i'm a male gamer, those characters ala-Ivy are a really bad jokes, look so lame.

i prefer to see girls wearing  short skirt rather than those kind of clothes..what is it?? bikini-wannabe?? well..design is design. the character designer most likely try to create characters that will be accepted by the majority. since the majority of gamers are males, so..you know what i meant right? this world is so strange, majority take the lead eventhough majority not always right. i wonder when people will start thinking that quality overcome quantity. sory that my english were a mess.

Grenadeh
Grenadeh

@cmacinnis @VakarianGirl @MasterOfSprites I hate to be so misogynistic but, this. You can change games all you want to appeal to female gamers, it won't matter. I have yet to meet any girls who actually like the core gameplay of most games - whether it features sexualized men/women or not.

This is just my experience, because I hate most gamers and avoid talking to them in the first place for good reason, but I just don't know girls who enjoy most games that guys would. The same can be said for guys, too. They'll say "Is that all you do? Run around and kill people?" or whatever.

Um.....yes? It's not like there aren't more cerebral games but they aren't exactly fun in large doses.

MasterOfSprites
MasterOfSprites

@cmacinnis @VakarianGirl @MasterOfSprites You're not helping, Spider-Man.

MasterOfSprites
MasterOfSprites

@VakarianGirl @MasterOfSprites Magic Mike is a movie made for women about male strippers.  My point being, you don't see as many people so desperate for female focused movies because they exist.  They exist at every level, sexual and non-sexual.  Video games haven't reached that point yet, and it does suck for someone like you who wants to be catered to.  I think we are finally starting to see more female leads though, and this next generation of games will be a lot better for everyone.

VakarianGirl
VakarianGirl

@MasterOfSprites @VakarianGirl I have no idea what magic mike is.  

But anyways - maybe we can just agree to meet in the middle.  I don't deny that most games are absolutely targeted at males, and they know what sells.  Sex.  And sexy females.  It's just - as a female gamer - I would REALLY appreciate having some more believable, respectable female characters to play.  That's all.

MasterOfSprites
MasterOfSprites

@VakarianGirl @MasterOfSprites I don't think it matters to them how SOME female gamers perceive the characters.  A lot of them have a target audience of males.  Designs like this won't go away in male targeted games.  Keep in mind the gaming industry is just starting to design games for female audiences.  I don't doubt that the magic mike of video games will probably come out in the future.

VakarianGirl
VakarianGirl

@MasterOfSprites @VakarianGirl I can tell you that if someone's brain comes up with character designs ala-Ivy from Soul Calibur, they more than likely don't have a very mature sexual outlook in life. 

Anyways - totally not my point.  I don't CARE what's going on in their minds.  I DO care that guys have NO idea how lame all these characters look to female gamers.