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!)