Hindus urge removal of Devi portrayal from video game Overwatch

Hindus are urging Blizzard Entertainment to withdraw Devi (Goddess) skin of Symmetra character in its Overwatch video game, calling it inappropriate.

Skins are said to be alternate appearances that players can apply to characters in video games.

Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada today, urged Irvine (California) headquartered Blizzard Entertainment CEO Michael Morhaime and its parent Santa Monica (California) based Activision Blizzard’s CEO Bobby Kotick to withdraw the Devi skin in the video game, as it trivialized Hinduism’s highly revered goddesses.

Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, said that in a video game set-up, the player controlled the movements of Devi, while in reality the devotees put the destinies of themselves in the hands of their goddesses.

Moreover, Devi and its movements depicted in Overwatch did not match with characterization of the goddesses in the scriptures, Rajan Zed noted.

Zed stated that Blizzard Entertainment needed to follow its own “core values” which included “lead responsibly” (As one of the world’s leading game companies, we’re committed to making ethical decisions), as in this case it was creating confusion in the minds of community about Devi by misrepresentation.

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 further said that 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, Zed added.

Hindus welcomed entertainment industry to immerse in Hinduism but taking it seriously and respectfully and not for refashioning Hinduism scriptures, symbols, concepts and deities for mercantile greed. He or other Hindu scholars would gladly provide genuine entertainment industry seekers the resources they needed for their study and research regarding Hinduism, oldest and third largest religion of the world with about one billion adherents and a rich philosophical thought, Rajan Zed stressed.

Symmetra, a character in Overwatch, whose corporation “sent her on clandestine missions around the world to uphold its corporate interests”; “utilizes her light-bending Photon Projector to dispatch adversaries”.

Devi, synonymous with Sakti, is applied to any of the many forms of Hindu goddess. Ancient Sanskrit text Devi Mahatmya described her supreme powers.

Overwatch, released in May and claimed to be a “critical hit”, is a multiplayer first-person video game developed by awards-winning Blizzard Entertainment, claimed to be “a premier developer and publisher of entertainment software” known for Warcraft, etc., whose history goes back to 1991 and which claims nineteen #1 games. Activision Blizzard, Inc., claims to be “world’s most successful standalone interactive entertainment company”. In addition to the English version, Overwatch has been localized into various world languages.

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