Blizzard revealed yesterday that Overwatch is expanding its roster once more to bring in one more hero: Sigma. He’s a tank class character whose abilities are based on gravity. As a scientist interested in studying the force, he devoted his life to researching black holes, hoping he could someday manipulate them. Apparently, though, his extended experiments took a toll on him, driving him mad – but none of that is not what fans, or the internet for that matter, cares about.
Like all Overwatch heroes, Sigma dropped along with a bio, some photos and a few short videos. That’s how we know about the mad scientist’s gravity obsession. But take a look at the whole design.
Yep. Sigma is shoe-less. A barefoot brawler. A foot fighter. A titan of toe tousles. Why, you ask? Blizzard has an answer. Being a mad scientist, Sigma’s design was partially influenced by asylum patients. A designer writes “in many institutions, patients are not allowed to have shoes because they might cause harm with the laces. While Sigma isn’t necessarily 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 a lot more generic, so in the end we decided to leave him barefeet. That’s just what the reasoning internally was.”
So, it turns out Blizzard steps in it once again. Sigma is a scientist who works for Talon, an organization curtly described bluntly as a terrorist organization and mildly as the game’s antagonists. Bringing in a character who is confirmed to have mental health issues, the first in the game, and connecting him to a villainy perpetuates an antiquated sentiment; that mental health issues lead to evil and wrongdoing.
The designer quoted above was asked on a forum about if Sigma would wear shoes in the future, in new skins. They responded saying “I’m sure,” making it all but certain that the scientist will eventually have footwear. For now, Blizzard gives players a trope that should’ve been left in the past.