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Where Legends Gather

In Defense of Tracer's Posterior

In the Beta Feedback boards for Overwatch a user objected to one of Tracer's poses claiming that it reduced the character to a sex symbol. I disagree with the argument and take umbrage with the notion that Tracer must reflect the nature of her primary and notable characteristics at all times, that she be disallowed from displaying a variety of traits. Furthermore I believe we can resolve some disagreement by acknowledging multiple player interpretations on Tracer's pose.

The user Fipps sings praise to Blizzard for developing strong female characters in Overwatch, claiming the characters are “diverse, interesting, and compelling,” and states that “...the female cast reflects a large spectrum of personalities and player fantasies.” I will return to the concept of “large spectrum of personalities” later as I think these words can also be used in the defense of Tracer's pose.

The user Fipps lists some of Tracer's qualities: “Fast, silly, kind, a good friend,” with screenshots and video that display these traits before at last arriving at the pose in question, of which Fipps writes: “What about this pose has anything to do with the character you're building in tracer? It's not fun, its not silly, it has nothing too with being a fast elite killer. It just reduces tracer to another bland female sex symbol.

We aren't looking at a widowmaker pose here, this isn't a character who is in part defined by flaunting her sexuality. This pose says to the player base, oh we've got all these cool diverse characters, but at any moment we are willing to reduce them to sex symbols to help boost our investment game.”

I disagree with the claim that the pose “says to the player base...at any moment we are willing to reduce [our characters] to sex symbols,” because this is Fipps' interpretation of the pose, even though there may be some credence to the business model aspect. To claim that the pose “reduces Tracer to a sex symbol” is also the user's interpretation, and I think the audience, not Blizzard, is reducing Tracer to a sex symbol by highlighting and focusing so heavily on this one pose. Let us not forget that it was Blizzard who built the character and made her “fast and silly” and gave Tracer these qualities, but it is the user who claims that this pose “reduces Tracer.” As a matter of fact some players may interpret this pose to be fun, silly, and in character.

It is certainly valid to have issue with this pose, but to claim that the entirety of the character is reduced to a sex symbol because of it is destructive. It is destructive because it makes a big deal out of a very small percentage of the character and proceeds to demonize one hundred percent of the character.

Furthermore, Fipps is correct in stating that “...[Tracer] isn't a character who is in part defined by flaunting her sexuality.” Although this is true, it does not mean Tracer should be completely disallowed from displaying any sexuality at all. A character should not be shackled to their defining traits at all times. A character can be designed to express variety.

Let us dispel with this fiction that the inclusion of suggestive material nullifies all the good qualities of a character, that we ought to disregard the good traits an overall well-designed character because of one sexualizing model. The thread itself is titled “Overwatch's Strong Female Heroes and that one Tracer Pose,” thus implying that because this one pose exists, Tracer is no longer capable of being a strong female hero.

If players can point to this pose as evidence that the character is not a strong one, allow me to inject strength into the character by an alternative interpretation of this same pose. Continuing on the premise that Tracer is “fast, silly, kind, a good friend,” I can entertain the idea that perhaps Tracer may be coy, reserved, and modest. From time to time she may build up enough self-confidence to strike the Over the Shoulder pose. I think most people can understand getting excited among friends and when joy wells up inside, saying something cheeky, or in Tracer's instance, striking a cheeky stance upon victory. Surely this is an example of diversity in the “spectrum of personality” contained within this character, which is one of the things Fipps claims to value.

I am well aware that I am injecting a great deal of likely irrelevant context to a character model, but if we can allow users to disregard major elements of a good character, I think I can take fairly this trade. Ultimately this entire ordeal is about a fictional video game character's pose and this is neither an in-depth nor well thought out counter argument, so I don't think any of this should be taken too seriously. Thanks for reading and a lovely day.