A senior Hindu stateman has asked Blizzard to remove a skin from its multiplayer shooter Overwatch, as he believes it trivialises the religion.
Rajan Zed, who is president of the Universal Society of Hinduism, issued an open letter to Blizzard execs Michael Morhaime and Bobby Kotick to retract the Devi skin for the character Symmetra, which is inspired by the Hindu goddess of the same name, who is sometimes named as Sakti.
Zed explained that “reimagining Hindu scriptures, symbols, concepts and deities for commercial or other agenda [is] not okay as it create[s] confusion”.
“Controlling and manipulating Devi with a joystick/ button/keyboard/mouse [is] denigration,” he added.
“Devi [is] 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.”
Reaffirming that “Hindus were for free speech as much as anybody else if not more”, Zed said that his core issue with the alleged misrepresentation of Devi is one of ‘confusion’.
“Video game makers should be more sensitive while handling faith-related subjects, as these games [leave a] lasting impact on the minds of highly impressionable children, teens and other young people,” he continued.
To press the point that developers should be including characters and concepts inspired by Hinduism – as long as they are accurately portrayed – Zed said that “Hindus welcome [the] entertainment industry to immerse in Hinduism but [by] taking it seriously and respectfully and not for refashioning Hinduism scriptures, symbols, concepts and deities for mercantile greed”.
“Hindu scholars would gladly provide genuine entertainment industry seekers the resources they need for their study and research regarding Hinduism, [the] oldest and third-largest religion of the world with about one billion adherents and a rich philosophical thought,” he concluded.