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Hindus ask Blizzard Entertainment to withdraw Devi Avatar ‘Kali’ in Video Game

Hindus ask Blizzard Entertainment to withdraw the Devi skin from their video game Overwatch

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Devi Skin in Overwatch. Image source: NDTV
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  • The skin is said to demean and be dismissive of the respected Hindu goddesses by letting anyone assume the avatar of a holy deity
  • Zed said, this false interpretation of Hindu deities and concepts for the purposes of commercialization goes against the core value “lead responsibly” of Blizzard Entertainment
  • Hindu scholars would willingly and happily provide the details needed to depict the skin respectfully as inaccurate depictions would influence the minds of highly impressionable children and teens

People belonging to Hindu community have urged the California-based Blizzard Entertainment to remove the Devi skin of the Symmetra character from its video game Overwatch. The skin is said to demean and be dismissive of the respected Hindu goddesses by letting anyone assume the avatar of a holy deity.

The Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, President of the Universal Society of Hinduism, has asked the CEO of Blizzard Entertainment, and its parent Activision Blizzard’s CEO, for a withdrawal in a statement in Nevada. He said, in the video game players can essentially control a devi by acquiring that skin, which goes against Hindu tradition of believers letting goddesses control their destiny.

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Symmetra, the character in question, is sent by her corporation “on clandestine missions around the world to uphold its corporate interests”. She is also famous for “utilizing her light-bending Photon Projector to dispatch adversaries.”

Blizzard Entertainment logo. Image source: kultur2.blog.fc2.com
Blizzard Entertainment logo. Image source: kultur2.blog.fc2.com

Moreover, it has been noted that the skin is an inaccurate depiction of the goddesses and the movements do not correlate with those in the Hindu scriptures. Zed has said that this false interpretation of Hindu deities and concepts for the purposes of commercialization goes against the core value “lead responsibly” of Blizzard Entertainment.

Devis are meant to be worshipped and not manipulated by the mere movement of a joystick, said Zed. He also added that the skin has reduced the sacred deities to no more than a character rather than appreciating the high place they hold in the scriptures.

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He noted the difference between artistic freedom and belittling the faith of a community for monetary gains. He has also added that Hindu scholars would willingly and happily provide the details needed to depict the skin respectfully as inaccurate depictions would influence the minds of highly impressionable children and teens.

Overwatch was released in May and had claimed to be a “critical hit” by the “premier developer and publisher of entertainment software” Blizzard Entertainment. Overwatch has also been localized for overseas customers by incorporating other languages.

– prepared by Varsha Gupta of NewsGram. You can find her on Twitter @VarshaGupta94

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A Video Game can Change the Brain, May Improve Empathy in Middle Schoolers

The researchers found stronger connectivity in empathy-related brain networks after the middle schoolers played "Crystals of Kaydor" compared to "Bastion"

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Video Game May Improve Empathy in Middle Schoolers. Pixabay

Researchers have found that an experimental video game on middle schoolers may improve an understanding of helping others in need, as it boosts connectivity in brain networks related to empathy and perspective taking.

The findings, published in the journal npj Science of Learning, suggests that some showed altered neural networks commonly linked to emotion regulation — a crucial skill that this age group is beginning to develop.

According to the researchers, from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the US, empathy is the first step in a sequence that can lead to prosocial behavior, such as helping others in need.

“Our long-term aspiration for this work is that video games may be harnessed for good and if the gaming industry and consumers took this message to heart, they could potentially create video games that can change the brain in a ways that support virtuous qualities rather than destructive qualities,” said lead author Richard Davidson, Professor at the varsity.

For the study, the team randomly assigned 150 middle schoolers into two groups to measured how accurate the players were in identifying the emotions of the characters in the experimental game.

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Empathy is the first step in a sequence that can lead to prosocial behavior, such as helping others in need. Pixabay

One played the experimental game, called “Crystals of Kaydor” — which was created for research purposes and intended to teach empathy. The second group played a commercially available and entertaining control game called “Bastion” that does not target empathy.

In “Crystals of Kaydor”, kids interacted with the aliens on the distant planet and learned to identify the intensity of emotions they witnessed on their humanlike faces, such as anger, fear, happiness, surprise, disgust and sadness.

Those who played “Bastion” partook in a storyline where they collected materials needed to build a machine to save their village, but tasks were not designed to teach or measure empathy. The team used the game because of its immersive graphics and third-person perspective.

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The team obtained functional magnetic resonance imaging scans in the laboratory from both groups before and after two weeks of gameplay, looking at connections among areas of the brain, including those associated with empathy and emotion regulation.

The researchers found stronger connectivity in empathy-related brain networks after the middle schoolers played “Crystals of Kaydor” compared to “Bastion”. (IANS)