Let's Talk About Sigma

Overwatch's new hero, Sigma, hit the PTR on July 23 as a barrier tank with some truly exceptional abilities. From what limited playtime we've seen so far, it looks like he'll be a serious contender in the field and is poised to make a seismic impact on the meta.

While this is provocative information on its own, what players are really concerned about is Sigma's design—namely, his feet.

When questioned about the design choice, concept artist Qiu Fang explained on their ArtStation account that the team wanted to "sell the 'asylum' look a bit more."

I'm conflicted. Representation matters more than I think we realize--with everything. We might not want to admit it, but a lot of our opinions are informed by what we see and read online. That's why Facebook cracked down in 2016. If you see "this thing is bad" often enough then chances are you're probably going to believe it.

You'll probably also be less likely to help those who fall into that "bad" category.

This principle plays into why things like mass incarceration of mentally ill individuals is such a problem. There are currently ten times more mentally ill people in prisons than there are in institutions—often for non-violent crimes, according to a report published by the Treatment Advocacy Center. Once arrested, those people don't get the help they need, get worse, and then either die from lack of proper care or get released and re-offend to continue the cycle.

Put simply: those who suffer with a mental illness tend to meet police presence more often than with a psychiatric team.

It's not about Sigma being a villain. I tend to love well-written, compelling villains more often than I appreciate the actual protagonist of a story. A character's motivations are interesting! Beyond being insensitive, "he's crazy uwu" is disappointingly unoriginal coming from a studio like Blizzard—although, after what they did to Sylvanas, I don't know if I'm surprised.

If Sigma was just an arrogant scientist who became the victim of one of his own failed experiments and then was locked up like Doomfist while waiting for the "Talon Rescue Brigade" there would be no issue.

I want there to be discussions about mental health and mental illness more than anything. However, much like my opinion on Netflix's 13 Reasons Why, I believe there's a right and wrong way to go about this. For the reasons listed above, this is the wrong way.

Blizzard, I know you can do better.

Photos and media courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment.