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Is Tracer Too Sexy?

So, Overwatch. A game I have pre-purchased. A game I'm looking forward to playing. May can't come soon enough for me to play it.

Apparently there's a bit of a kerfuffle because of a character's sexy pose. Tracer, a playable female character (one of many), has, among other poses, a sassy, sexy, over the shoulder pose in the game. And someone has complained about it on the forums. After 11 pages of comments, the developers at Blizzard have decided to remove the pose from the game. The person who complained was concerned that it was a sexualization of a female character. Now, the portrayal of women in video games is a bit of a hot button issue lately. See also, Gamergate.

I am fine with Tracer's sexy pose (and there are plenty of other sexy aspects of some of the female characters in the game). Here's why this is different from the portrayal of women or female characters in a game like, oh, say, Hitman. In this game, Tracer is a fully developed character. She kicks ass and is one of the most powerful damage dealers in the game. She has awesome abilities and she's pretty fun to play. She isn't a 2 dimensional window dressing. She isn't a prop to move a male hero's story forward. She isn't a sexy object. This is a very different portrayal of a woman character: she has moxy, she's totally badass and she has a backstory. She's not a prop or a story element, she's a character. So can she have a sexy, over the shoulder pose that shows off her ass? Sure.

If her character were weak, if she were nothing more than something to move a male story line forward, I'd strongly oppose just giving her this sexy pose. But she's not. This is one of many poses she has. Her most common pose is running with her guns out, kicking butt and taking names.

But, look, I totally get. People want their kids to play games and not automatically see a sexualized pose from a woman. Heck, I'd like to see fewer sexualized poses in general. But I think that this issue is separate from the overall "objectification of women" in video games debate. We're so used to women and female characters being boiled down to nothing more than their sexuality and their bodies that we're sensitive to seeing things like this pop up in games, and we react defensively.

This debate isn't easy. Art isn't easy. Being a woman who plays video games sometimes isn't easy. From not being given female avatars to play in Assassin's Creed to the aforementioned treatment of women in games like Hitman, it's refreshing to get games now recognizing that female characters can be fun to play and make female gamers feel represented and included. And that's a good thing. The point so many people miss when arguing with those who want better female representation in games is that we don't want to sterilize the art so women have no sexuality. We, well, I, want women to have more than just their sexuality portrayed in games (and movies and TV shows and comics, you get the idea). Tracer is more than just this pose, and that's what makes this different.

As I posted about Overwatch when I first learned of it, I once again say "better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without." Overwatch is inclusive. Its characters are racially and gender diverse. I cannot wait to see where it goes. I have high hopes, but know better than to expect perfection, and I am definitely looking forward to playing Tracer, with or without her sexy over the shoulder pose.

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