#Buttgate: refers to the kerfuffle that followed a minor change to a computer game made during it’s development stage. This decision led to a backlash from members of the gaming community who felt that the change was the consequence of politically correct pandering to the views of one person and went against the game developers’ right to artistic freedom.
In spring 2016, video games developer Blizzard Entertainment were in the process of beta testing a multiplayer first-person shooter game called Overwatch. During this process one of the participants on the beta forums complained about a specific ‘over the shoulder’ pose made by one of the female characters in the game which they felt was ‘overly sexual’:
Closed beta testing: Game developers release a closed beta version of a game under development to a restricted group of individuals for a user test by invitation.
The game developers responded by removing the pose which immediately led to a backlash from users who felt that this was simply pandering to political correctness. This backlash quickly spilled out of the user forms and resulted in a petition requesting that the developers reinstate the victory pose.
“We want *everyone* to feel strong and heroic in our community. The last thing we want to do is make someone feel uncomfortable, under-appreciated or misrepresented. Apologies and we’ll continue to try to do better.” Game Director of Overwatch
#ButtGate highlights the tricky tightrope that game developers have to travel when working in an industry desperate to avoid #gamergate and #STEM related controversies.
They can very quickly find themselves having to appease two very distinct but equally vocal groups who both have the potential to seriously damage the commercial potential of their product before it has even reached the high streets.
Female video game characters can come under intense scrutiny from feminists and parents wanting to see positive role models for the daughters (sometimes in extremely violent games). Any action to appease this market, be it for commercial or ethical reasons, can then potentially be jumped upon by anti-censorship, pro-gamergate, gamers who may potentially represent the majority view of the majority of people who may eventually consume their finished product.
EYEdon’t envy their dilemma.
Still, given that the decision to censor the offending buttocks came so quickly after one high profile ambassador for the tech industry didn’t mince their words when coming out in support of #gamergate, is it any wonder Blizzard wanted to try and keep their powder dry?