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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
  • 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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California Wildfire of 2017 Caused By Homeowner Equipment: Agency

In the report released Thursday by the state, one witness reported seeing a transformer explode. Another reported seeing the fire approach a PG&E power pole.

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California
An aerial view of properties destroyed by the Tubbs Fire is seen in Santa Rosa, California, Oct. 11, 2017. VOA

In a long-awaited report, state investigators said Thursday that a 2017 wildfire that killed 22 people in Northern California wine country was caused by a private electrical system, not equipment belonging to embattled Pacific Gas & Electric Corp.

The state firefighting agency concluded that the blaze started next to a residence. It did not find any violations of state law.

“I eliminated all other causes for the Tubbs Fire, with the exception of an electrical caused fire originating from an unknown event affecting privately owned conductor or equipment,” CalFire Battalion Chief John Martinez wrote in his report.

Some details about the property, including its owner and address, were blacked out of the report. It said the Napa County property about 3 miles (5 kilometers) north of Calistoga was built in 1946 on about 10.5 acres (4.2 hectares) with a wine cellar, pool and several outbuildings.

Wildfire
A statue stands among the remains of a home destroyed by the Tubbs Fire in Santa Rosa, Calif., Oct. 10, 2017. VOA

PG&E said in a Jan. 2 court filing that it believed a handyman performing unlicensed electrical work started the wine country fire. In that filing, it identified the owner of the Napa County compound as Ann Zink. The utility said it provided electricity to Zink’s property by a line that connected to a service riser but that Zink had a private system to carry power to other buildings as well as equipment such as a water pump and water storage tank.

PG&E said it had no responsibility to maintain or inspect the private system.

Zink, 91, told the San Francisco Chronicle in 2017 that her house was unoccupied at the time of the fire and she was at her other home in Riverside County when the blaze began.

PG&E bankruptcy filing

The Tubbs Fire was one of more than 170 that torched the state in October 2017. It destroyed more than 5,600 structures over more than 57 square miles (148 sq. kilometers) in Sonoma and Napa counties.

PG&E previously said it plans to file for bankruptcy protection next week, citing billions of dollars in potential damages from lawsuits linking its equipment to other deadly blazes for which it has been determined to be at fault.

Fire, CLimate Change, California, fossil fuels
Firefighters battle a wildfire as it threatens to jump a street near Oroville, California. VOA

The company said in a statement that despite Thursday’s finding, PG&E “still faces extensive litigation, significant potential liabilities and a deteriorating financial situation.”

Gov. Gavin Newson said it’s up to PG&E to decide whether to move ahead with a planned bankruptcy given that more than half of its expected damages stemmed from the 2017 Tubbs Fire.

He said his goal is not to rescue PG&E but to make sure victims are made whole, that the state has “safe, reliable and affordable service” and that rate payers “are not paying the price of the neglect” that has been established in past wildfires.

Newsom also said he doubts the report will end litigation related to the wildfire.

Michael Kelly, an attorney for victims of the fire, said the findings wouldn’t have much effect on the lawsuits he has filed.

“We’re going to stick by our guns,” Kelly said, adding that there are still questions about why PG&E didn’t cut power to the area despite a high fire danger. He said there is also evidence that contradicts the findings of state fire investigators.

California, Fire prevention, wildfires
A firefighter sprays the smoldering remains of a vehicle on Interstate 5 as the Delta Fire burns in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest, VOA

Reform, compensation

Trading of PG&E Corp. stock was halted twice after news about the cause of the fire prompted a surge of buy orders. Once trading resumed, the price rocketed up, closing up $5.96, or nearly 75 percent, at $13.35 a share.

A state senator said that just because a private electric line caused the wine country fire does not let the utility off the hook for the role of its equipment in other devastating fires in the state.

State Sen. Bill Dodd, a Napa Democrat, cited system-wide issues plaguing California’s largest utility.

Lawmakers are under pressure to find a solution that addresses utility reform and compensates wildfire victims.

Also Read: urance Claims From California’s Wildfire At $9 Billion

“This underscores the idea that we all have a role to play in wildfire prevention,” said Dodd a frequent critic of PG&E, who noted that the company has already been found at fault for more than a dozen other Northern California wildfires.

In the report released Thursday by the state, one witness reported seeing a transformer explode. Another reported seeing the fire approach a PG&E power pole.

One witness, Charlie Brown Jr. of Calistoga, said the electrical wiring leading from the property where investigators concluded the fire started had not been used in years. (VOA)