Religious statesman and president of the Universal Society of Hinduism Rajan Zed released a statement today, urging Blizzard and Activision to remove an Overwatch skin he said “trivialized Hinduism’s highly revered goddesses.”
Devi is the great goddess of Hinduism, worshiped in many different form and names since prehistoric times. While Symmetra’s Devi skin (and its recolored counterpart, Goddess) doesn’t seem to represent any one particular aspect of the goddess, it incorporates many aspects of their traditional depiction, notably Kali’s skull decoration and the blue skin associated in the faith with all things infinite.
According to Rajan Zed, it’s close enough to be inappropriate and confusing. From his statement:
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.
In his statement Zed called upon Blizzard to act on its own core values.
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 has championed the Hindu faith’s depiction in video games on a previous occasion, asking developer Hi-Rez Studios to remove Hindu deities from its multiplayer online battle arena game, Smite. That game now boasts seven characters from the pantheon.
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.
Blizzard has yet to comment Zed’s statement.