Heroes of the Storm director, Dustin Browder, has apologised for sexist comments he made in an interview with Rock, Paper Shotgun. Browder suggested in the interview that the game’s hyper-sexualised portrayal of female characters was insignificant, but has since retracted the comment and made a public apology.
When questioned about the sexualisation of female characters in the game, Browder seemed unprepared and uncomfortable.
“Well, I mean, some of these characters, I would argue, are already hyper-sexualized in a sense. I mean, Kerrigan is wearing heels, right? We’re not sending a message to anybody. We’re just making characters who look cool. Our sensibilities are more comic book than anything else. That’s sort of where we’re at. But I’ll take the feedback. I think it’s very fair feedback.”
The comparison he makes to the comic book genre is particularly unfortunate given that it is a medium that is infamous for its abuse and exaggeration of female characters’ sexuality. Browder then went on to react extremely defensively to follow-up questions from the interviewer.
“We’re not running for President. We’re not sending a message. No one should look to our game for that.”
Unfortunately, Browder did not seem to realise that releasing a game that a large population of people will play will inevitably impact on perceptions of women. While I agree that all MOBA characters are generally stereotyped with their characteristics vastly exaggerated, Browder’s attempt to simply dodge the topic and suggest that it is insignificant is disappointing.
The official apology can be found below, but the handling of the situation by Blizzard and Browder suggests that the gaming industry as a whole still has a long way to go in an attempt to achieve gender equality.
“In a recent interview with Rock, Paper, Shotgun, I responded poorly to a statement the interviewer made about over-sexualized character designs in games, and I want to apologize for that. This is a serious topic and I don’t want anyone to think that I, or anyone else at Blizzard, is insensitive about how we portray our characters.
It takes work to make compelling characters, but it’s important to take a step back to ensure that we’re not alienating our players. We have an amazing roster of heroes and we will always strive to make sure that everyone can have a hero that they identify with and feel powerful using. And at the end of the day, we all want the same thing. A great game where we can all have fun battling for glory and maybe some bragging rights.”