On May 8th, Blizzard surprised most Overwatch fans with a new Mercy skin. Let’s be honest here, a ton of players have this burning desire to earn all the fun character skins, so it’s not at all shocking that this skin is extremely popular. Mercy, as you may or may not know, is widely considered the main healer in the game, and does it with an the grace of an angel. Literally. It makes perfect sense that when the ability to temporarily fly is enabled, angel wings pop out of her back.2
Do not fear, wounded warrior, Mercy is here to heal all your battle scars.
This is the first time since Overwatch’s release that Blizzard has offered an item specifically for in-game use, where 100% of proceeds go to charity. They’ve made digital items before (the most notable ones being the fun pets and mounts in World of Warcraft) that have helped raise money for varying charities, so their kindness certainly knows no bounds. Don’t get me wrong, charity is usually a great cause, if in the right hands, so I certainly won’t knock people donating their hard earned money.
But there is something wrong with this Pink Mercy skin.
I do realize that many of the skins for her character are of the, shall we call it, skimpier kind. Thigh high stockings, low cut tops and a wildly swinging dress that gives you peaks of what we can only assume is a bodysuit underneath. I also realize that most of the women characters in Overwatch have tight-fitting or skin-revealing outfits. Mind you, the skins are nothing like outfits in some other games, where a piece of colored tape barely covers nipples and a teeny napkin is used in place of an actual skirt. Blizzard makes sure to keep it somewhat family friendly, but this new Mercy skin takes that subtle sexualization and uses it in the wrong manner.
Mercy’s original skin covers almost all of the skin on her body, leaving her face the only exposed area. It’s bold, solid, powerful and sleek.
The Pink Mercy skin has some slight adjustments off of her original skins, but maintains most of the original form. The problem lies in the school girl haircut, thigh-highs and the ever present immaturity that comes with discussing breasts.
Now I’m sure you can look at this and not see a problem with it. And don’t get me wrong, the colors are great and the touches of ribbon, to emulate the Pink Ribbon logo for breast cancer awareness, are well done. However, there isn’t a need for a peek under the skirt, the teasing v-neck undergarment or the pig tails in her hair. All of these elements combined give her that youthful, ditzy, innocent “I’d-pull-on-those-handlebars-any-day” sexual vibe. She isn’t strong, she’s the girl next door you want to screw. There are better skins that Blizzard could have recolored to not only be more respectful, but be more in tune with Mercy’s character. She’s a medic, and one of her previously added skins was called Combat Medic Ziegler. It was made for an in-game event, chronicling Mercy’s (aka Angela Ziegler) involvement in some critical game lore. As you can see below, that Combat skin is of a doctor, one here to help and heal. THAT is the message Blizzard should be sending when it comes to this new charity skin.
Breast cancer awareness is hypersexualized in so many different ways and it doesn’t sync up with the message behind the awareness. An astounding amount of fan art pops up every time a new skin is released, so as expected with the subject manner of this skin, there is a whole of lot immature “woo boobies!” attitudes and art flying around. I’ve even seen a fan drawing where Mercy is standing there topless, pushing her extra large breasts together with pink ribbons used as nipple covers.
This is not acceptable.
Going a step further, it’s always women that become objectified through breast cancer charity work, and not men. You never see any kind of advertisements, campaigns or in the case, gaming-related items that have a man sporting an orchid-colored ribbon while talking about his testicles and the terrible disease that is testicular cancer.
Cancer isn’t a joke and breast cancer in particular not something for you to turn into a dirty little fantasy, and I find this a bit insulting to breast cancer victims, survivors and advocates. There has been a hot debate about this skin, and I do hope that Blizzard earns a ton of money for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (on top of the $250K they’re already promising to the charity), but I feel this was not the creative direction to take.