I did’t really feel like dwelling too much on the Tracer ass controversy, but here I am making a mistake. A lot has been said and taken out of proportion over a fairly calm bit of criticism gamers thought was ripping something away from them (“They took our jobs!” logic seems at play here).

To me what was actually interesting about the whole dumb debacle was an authorial control argument on the keep-the-pose side. Many believed (emphasis on belief) that Blizzard’s response to replace the pose was an act of censorship and a surrender of creative control to appease PC politics or SJWs. I’m not going to waste much time with the censorship argument. It is stupid for very obvious reasons. On the other hand the question of creative control is incredibly fascinating.

For those making these arguments it only seems to go one way. What I mean is that if Blizzard does decide to change the pose then gamers should not force them to change it back with yet another pathetic game related change.org petition?

Wouldn’t that be censorship or forced creative control by their definition? Note that the reason Blizzard gave for the change was that it was a weak pose and not in line with the character. The replacement still shows ass (even referencing a pinup model), but with a tone befitting of Tracer’s character. From an artistic and story perspective, it’s undeniably a better pose. But the keep-the-pose side Tracer’s stance has little to do with craft and everything to do with reactionary politics. “Blizzard you have creative control until we don’t agree!”

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The creative control argument implies that authorial control in games only extends to art and maybe as far as story. This notion is strange to as the same gamers making the arguments surely make the argument that Bastion is OP or Widowmaker needs a nerf. A counter argument is not the point here, but showcasing how this attitude quickly lowers video games (which gamers absolutely believe are art) to the level of a product or service.

So what is it: are games art or not?

I suppose the easy answer is that video games are both art and product in a singular way—a compromised art form. Public betas are a type of audience involvement wholly alien to all other mediums (yes, I know films have focus tests, but those involve theaters full of people not millions).

For a multiplayer game betas are an absolute necessity as the practicalities of bugs, server loads, and balance must be fine tuned. Yet during a beta the game developers have opened up all available content to criticism. Even criticism which you believe somehow robs you of fun because you don’t agree with the well meant politics (*cough* respecting others *cough*) behind it.

Why do betas really exist? Betas are held in order to accomplish something we can all get behind: use audience feedback to make the experience as fun and as fair for everyone as possible.

Hmm. Sounds familiar.

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