The Daily Grind: Is Blizzard right to ‘desexualize’ art in World of Warcraft?

via WoWhead

Last week, there was a big social media hubbub over World of Warcraft, as Blizzard quietly changed out a pair of obscure paintings in the game. Once changed a blurry portrait of a woman into a sharper version with less visible cleavage, while the other changed an obvious tongue-in-cheek homage to a reclining female nude into a… bowl of fruit.

The thing is, most people would never have noticed the paintings on their own; they were, as WoWhead put it, placed in obscure locations to begin with and were noticed only because datamining is so ubiquitous. So while Blizzard didn’t publicize the changes, those changes nevertheless sparked controversy as gamers argued over the removal of female depictions, the sexualization of characters in the game, the poor quality of the originals, and whether changing video game paintings remotely addresses the current sexual harassment scandal where workers are seeking real protections from abuse. I have to admit that I don’t really care all that much about ugly in-game paintings compared to actual abuse and criminal activity, and I can’t quite shake the suspicion that Blizzard is intentionally picking these controversial tweaks because it knows the dataminers will amplify them and inadvertently create needed distraction.

What do you think about all this – is Blizzard right to “desexualize” art in World of Warcraft?

(With thanks to everyone who tipped this!)

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!

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It might seem a little tone-deaf to the West because this move is textbook according to Blizzard’s appeasement of the Chinese government’s censorship practices…

…while at the same time their company practices remain abhorrent, particularly towards women; Tencent makes this look tame and that’s basically a govt puppet corp.

The root cause of the particular brand of corporate culture now having a clash with US state and federal business regulators IS a battleground if people do not realize it yet.

Does not check email

Is this being done to avoid Asian country based censorship? I hardly believe this is altruistic and not serving some greater business purpose or risk mitigation.

Knight Porter

Highly unlikely, considering they’ve been in the game forever now.

Michael Wyant

“Desexualizing” a game isn’t going to do much in the end. For every bit of “desexualizing” that takes place there are how many women on cam sites and what-not adding to the sexualization of women. Then you have “adult” targeted cartoons that tend to have sexual themes or content. Not to mention the streamers that have “wardrobe malfunctions” during their livestreams. Is it right to sexualize a woman? Not at all. But the way I see it society as a whole isn’t helping the problem much. Only encouraging it. If people REALLY want to solve the issue they need to do something about the REAL causes. As for the Blizzard employees who are complicit in that behavior they need to face consequences for their behavior. But make no mistake things aren’t going to improve much because it’s far bigger than just a gaming issue. Its like putting a band-aid on a gunshot

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I think that it doesn’t hurt that they did that, in the current context, and also some of the paintings are so blurry and low quality anyway, that having sharper images is a bonus. At least they didn’t advertise it like it’s some big step forwards; dataminers are gonna datamine, so it’s perhaps a little bit unfair to suggest that Acti didn’t announce it specifically so that dataminers could do that for them. Damned if they do, damned if they don’t in that sense.

Overall, it makes us look bad if we’re having conniptions about these paintings instead of focusing on the real problems.


Let’s react to accusations of sexism by making… sex-negative changes?


Tee Parsley

I suspect this is totally knee jerk reaction from the brass. ‘What can we do to appear like we’re less asshats than we are?’


Place something like this next to them instead! ;P


The robbed woman original was awful, the new one is a definite upgrade. The lounging lady doesn’t hurt my eyes as much, so its replacement by fruit is meh. If they really wanted to make a statement they should have replaced it with a lounging man instead. Unless we’re saying that any depiction of the human body regardless of gender is wrong and we should live in a sexless society :-).


To be honest, it seems like a pointless exercise to me. What we don’t know is whether this was ordered from the top as a token gesture (in which case, really?) or whether it’s something at a member of staff had wanted to do because they found the pictures objectionable and they finally got given the go-ahead by the new regime (in which case, yay for listening I guess).


I mean, they can do whatever they want to in their game. That said I don’t believe it is a right decision since it mostly generated a negative response for an obvious reason. But hey, it’s their money to lose, which I don’t really care about since I don’t play any of their games now and I don’t believe they are capable of producing fun games for me anymore.