Overwatch artist says Sigma’s bare feet meant to ‘sell the asylum look’
July 24, 2019 1:10 PM   Subscribe

Yesterday, the new Overwatch hero, Sigma, went live on Blizzard's test servers. Fans soon found themselves "confused and horrified by Sigma’s bare feet," and questioned their presence in the hero's design. Today, an artist who worked on the design had a comment.

"Thanks for your feedbacks! We decided to keep the feet bare to sell the ‘asylum’ look a bit more; in many institutions, patients are not allowed to have shoes because they might cause harm with the laces. While Sigma isnt neccisarily in danger of that, we felt that having no shoes helped draw that connection. I also had iterations of him with shoes on, and it made him alot more generic, so in the end we decided to leave him barefeet. That’s just what the reasoning internally was though, I’m sure we’ll be making skins with shoes on him in the future!"[sic]
posted by Caduceus (46 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
it's such an awkward terrible "explanation" and honestly they should've just played the foot fetish card, if only to appease poor tyrone.
posted by poffin boffin at 1:13 PM on July 24, 2019 [10 favorites]


anyway between the sigmatoes, doomfist's immense golden fist, and moira's "piss in your face" healing ability it seems like there is a lot of unnecessary and unsolicited deeply personal information about the game devs being thrust upon us
posted by poffin boffin at 1:16 PM on July 24, 2019 [26 favorites]


Was that not obvious to everyone? I assumed all the shouting about the feet was ironic and that we all knew why he didn't have shoes.
posted by Scattercat at 1:17 PM on July 24, 2019


I'm less curious about the bare feet (which is weird with power armor) and just... continually exasperated with the Rob Liefield triangle torso they keep running with PLUS the massive Blizzard-style shoulder armor. He's not even some kind of genetically/cybernetically enhanced supersoldier, he's a science nerd.
posted by Foosnark at 1:29 PM on July 24, 2019 [7 favorites]


It is an unnerving look--like I don't have a squick about feet the way a couple friends of mine do, but this made me instantly understand how it feels for them to see that kind of thing. But I think part of it is how I think of feet as being quite vulnerable. Bare feet are disabled by the presence of gravel driveways or Lego left out on the floor in the dark, how can you go into combat with bare feet! But of course, if he can fly, maybe this is his revenge against all those errant d4's from his youth.
posted by Sequence at 1:33 PM on July 24, 2019 [4 favorites]


I don't have thoughts other than:
The sound design in this character's backstory video just blew me away. The non-linear jump cuts, the shift in tone mid-speech, the way the music is woven through... For all their many faults, Blizzard just seems to take to creation of cinematic shorts so naturally.
posted by the_querulous_night at 1:39 PM on July 24, 2019 [4 favorites]


One of the newest members of the OWL team Toronto Defiant had a comment.
posted by rewil at 1:42 PM on July 24, 2019 [1 favorite]


Would you say that his toes are his Achilles heel?
posted by clawsoon at 1:45 PM on July 24, 2019 [6 favorites]


Shades of Rupert Sheldrake.

It really is surprisingly disconcerting. I remember first thinking when I glanced at that video 'those weird Italian-looking shoes clash horribly with your pants and jacket'.
posted by jamjam at 1:52 PM on July 24, 2019


Would you say that his toes are his Achilles heel?

Yes. And also his heels.
posted by Caduceus at 2:04 PM on July 24, 2019 [4 favorites]


I've never played this game and know next to nothing about it, but this character's whole power set involves gravity control, right? So why would you need to wear shoes if your feet never touch the ground?
posted by Faint of Butt at 2:10 PM on July 24, 2019 [4 favorites]


poffin boffin, don't forget about how Winston's character model deploys his shield.
posted by Groundhog Week at 2:11 PM on July 24, 2019


maybe your feet get cold? or you don't want to die in vacuum?
posted by boo_radley at 2:13 PM on July 24, 2019


This design is hilariously weird looking and I applaud it. They should leave the explanation at "he just likes it that way" and then let people buy variety packs of colorful socks, buy special moves that include wiggling his toes, etc.
posted by LobsterMitten at 2:16 PM on July 24, 2019 [20 favorites]


For all their many faults, Blizzard just seems to take to creation of cinematic shorts so naturally.

I was particularly struck by how much the little short accomplished with so little animation. I'm used to seeing the splashy animation of LoL character videos; they are far more kinetic but not terribly dramatic.
posted by Edgewise at 2:17 PM on July 24, 2019


Look, can't you just be delicate about this? He's... he's got... look, he's got fungal issues, all right people? Maybe it's an alien symbiotic fungus that gives him special powers, let's roll with that.
posted by phooky at 2:27 PM on July 24, 2019 [1 favorite]


his ult should be that once his gravity thingy hurls the enemy team up into the air, stunned, he floats above them touching their faces with his horrible spindly toes which are clammy from the icy void of space
posted by poffin boffin at 2:27 PM on July 24, 2019 [18 favorites]


I was very impressed with the character reveal animation. I don't understand why people are upset about his toes, it's just a silly little detail. I think the fact that people immediately jump to assuming it's an expression of some sort of sexual fetish reveals more about them than it does about the devs.
posted by I-Write-Essays at 2:32 PM on July 24, 2019


poffin boffin: that sounds like the Legend of VoidFoot, interstellar yeti.
posted by boo_radley at 2:34 PM on July 24, 2019 [2 favorites]


Look, can't you just be delicate about this? He's... he's got... look, he's got fungal issues, all right people? Maybe it's an alien symbiotic fungus that gives him special powers, let's roll with that.

That would have been a great backstory. Gravity warping alien foot-fungus. I might need to steal that.
posted by Caduceus at 2:37 PM on July 24, 2019


maybe brigitte can knit him some socks
posted by poffin boffin at 2:40 PM on July 24, 2019 [3 favorites]


Yes. And also his heels.

Ahem ——>

Thanks for your feedbacks! feetbacks!

So. Close.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 2:46 PM on July 24, 2019 [2 favorites]


How do these same fans feel about Toph Bei Fong?
posted by wanderingmind at 2:50 PM on July 24, 2019 [1 favorite]


"Oh hey cool cool, yeah, the asylum look I guess I can see how..." I say to myself as I think back to the 16 weeks I spent in an inpatient psychiatric facility, where I wasn't allowed to wear shoes, remembering having a "Code Blue" called on me so many times, a code which meant being tackled by several men and strapped to a gurney and forcibly injected with god knows what. "..that's such a vivid aesthetic for a video game"
posted by nikaspark at 2:59 PM on July 24, 2019 [44 favorites]


I was very impressed with the character reveal animation. I don't understand why people are upset about his toes, it's just a silly little detail. I think the fact that people immediately jump to assuming it's an expression of some sort of sexual fetish reveals more about them than it does about the devs.

The display of extremely long, extremely red toes in an outfit that is otherwise just full body power armor is very weird and very offputting. It screams fetishistic. So, yeah, people thought it was someone being Weird and Horny.

The grotesquely ableist turn in the lore was a bit of a shock, honestly. Yeah, in many institutions, you don't get to wear shoes with shoelaces, but you don't walk around barefoot! You wear soft sock-slippers! You aren't allowed to be barefoot! This is fetishistic in a different way, this is appropriative of a struggle and a history of violence and oppression to make a creepy outfit that in no way suggests "asylum". Nobody will look at that character and think "oh, he's barefoot because he was committed". This tidbit just made it worse.

It's gross, it's reductive, it's based in a pop culture stereotype of psych wards that's thirty years out of date, and it's harmful as hell. All for the sake of justifying, yeah, a designer's foot fetish.
posted by kafziel at 3:02 PM on July 24, 2019 [42 favorites]


- the ana highlight intro where you're waking up from her sleep dart except it's sigma prying your eyelids open with his creepy toes

- the widowmaker highlight intro where she knocks you down and steps on you but it's sigma and his pasty white foot; instead of the CRONCH sound it's the meaty PLAP of someone walking barefoot in the locker room

- the winston highlight intro where it's a gross moist slobbery closeup of his mouth breathing onto his glasses to clean them except it's just sigma touching the camera with his damp sweaty toes

- the torbjorn highlight intro where he opens the xmas present box and tiny turrets scamper out except it's a box full of addams family Thing-esque disembodied feet scuttling around

oh god i did myself a frighten
posted by poffin boffin at 3:10 PM on July 24, 2019 [18 favorites]


Holy shit people have hangups about the weirdest stuff.
posted by Soi-hah at 3:45 PM on July 24, 2019 [3 favorites]


"Asylum look" is a fucking terrible response. Seriously? Incredibly insensitive to people who have struggled with mental health.

Here's my better explanation: "It's to emphasize how disconnected he is from the world around him. Bare feet floating in the air is like a dangling power plug, a drifting boat. We know it's not supposed to be that way, but Sigma doesn't care. It doesn't touch him at all. Also, bare feet are sexy as hell."
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 5:03 PM on July 24, 2019 [7 favorites]


It's like in trying to distance it from a perfectly run of the mill foot fetish, they took the worst possibly angle. And, dude, I don't know if you know this but people can make anything horny, this is the internet.
posted by Mizu at 6:06 PM on July 24, 2019 [2 favorites]


So he's a living weapon, but luckily nobody's in danger from his shoelaces.
posted by ckape at 6:40 PM on July 24, 2019 [1 favorite]


No one is barefoot in a hospital. They give you tube socks with rubber grips on the soles.
posted by Brocktoon at 6:47 PM on July 24, 2019 [2 favorites]


"confused and horrified by Sigma’s bare feet,"

What an amusingly over-the-top characterization of

(clicks link)

actually surprisingly apt
posted by Jpfed at 7:15 PM on July 24, 2019


Is this some kind of trick to get me to read an OW character backstory and take it even the tiniest bit seriously.

Literally nothing else about his character design sells the asylum. Where did he get the rest of his suit?? It makes no fucking sense and it's such a basic ass fucking backstory fjeasfleagskfguagufgfu I fell for it.

How do these same fans feel about Toph Bei Fong?

I don't think Sigma can be be placed on the Quiet - Toph Bei Fong axis because there's no "he *needs* to have skin showing" argument being made, which leaves him in the 2B butt bin by default.
posted by fleacircus at 7:37 PM on July 24, 2019 [2 favorites]


If you look at him, he's wearing a soft pajama suit underneath his science-armor-y gear. The suggestion is that Talon like just broke him out of the pen and handed him his gravity machine.
posted by Scattercat at 7:40 PM on July 24, 2019


He couldn't just wear those creepy feet shoes?
posted by blnkfrnk at 7:46 PM on July 24, 2019 [3 favorites]


"let's just check in real quick with that new overwatch hero! is it a black woman? it's -- oh, it's a fascist scientist! it's another fascist scientist!! oh!" -Jack de Quidt
posted by JDHarper at 8:01 PM on July 24, 2019 [2 favorites]


I think the real lesson here is that professional character designers need to hire me (for large dollars) to vet their designs prior to publication.

...I won't guarantee the absence of blowback, but I will guarantee that the blowback only comes from jackholes that can be ignored. I'm sorta like the rock that keeps tigers away.

EA: fire a couple of junior execs, and gimme some of their sweet dollars!
posted by aramaic at 9:44 PM on July 24, 2019 [1 favorite]


Yes, asylum patients aren't allowed shoes, hence the no shoes. Clearly though, they are allowed fucking POWER ARMOUR and METAL GLOVES? Or did he get them after he left the asylum? What, they didn't think to bring shoes along with the rest of the fucking full body suit? Or maybe they could have bought some for him in the implied long period of time between him being broken out by Talon and now. I quote:

"When Talon discovered De Kuiper's existence, they infiltrated the facility and broke him out, planning to use his brilliance and research to further their plans. In their custody, De Kuiper slowly gained control of his powers."

Slowly. He wasn't fucking busted out yesterday. Even if we accept Blizzard's retrograde and offensive premise tied into some kind of 'asylum mystique' bullshit, it makes not sense on their own terms.
posted by Dysk at 4:07 AM on July 25, 2019 [1 favorite]


Also I guess all the Warhammer 40k fans were onto something when they were chanting "in the grim darkness of the distant future there is only pauldrons." I thought it was a joke, but here we are.
posted by Dysk at 4:09 AM on July 25, 2019 [8 favorites]


How did this get this far without a Quentin Tarantino reference?
posted by Halloween Jack at 5:32 AM on July 25, 2019


poffin boffin you are making me lol and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.
posted by Fleebnork at 5:50 AM on July 25, 2019


Jesus fucking Christ, Blizzard. "Asylum look"?
posted by tobascodagama at 6:04 AM on July 25, 2019 [4 favorites]


If someone says "asylum chic" I am going to throw them into the sea
posted by Rock Steady at 6:58 AM on July 25, 2019 [2 favorites]


There's a prominent astrophysicist who is well-known for not wearing shoes... my first thought had been that this was an homage to him :)
posted by janewman at 11:59 AM on July 26, 2019


Looks like Sigma has a new skin, I wonder what fun twist on the black hole scientist concept they'll--

Oh.
posted by tobascodagama at 7:19 PM on August 2, 2019 [2 favorites]


for sale: adult shoes, never worn
posted by ckape at 7:36 AM on August 3, 2019 [1 favorite]


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