File picture: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg
File picture: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg

Blizzard to change beloved 'Overwatch' hero's name in wake of harassment lawsuit

By The Washington Post Time of article published Aug 27, 2021

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By Nathan Grayson

McCree, a popular hero in Blizzard's team-based shooter "Overwatch," is getting renamed. The character was originally a nod to Jesse McCree, a game designer no longer working at Blizzard in the wake of a California Department of Fair Employment and Housing lawsuit alleging sexual harassment and discrimination at Activision Blizzard. Further, employees at Blizzard have told The Post that similar changes will soon be coming to "World of Warcraft," which currently contains characters and cities named after multiple former Blizzard developers.

The "Overwatch" development team posted a statement about the character McCree's future on Twitter.

"As we continue to discuss how we best live up to our values and to demonstrate our commitment to creating a game world that reflects them," reads the statement, "we believe it's necessary to change the name of the hero currently known as McCree to something that better represents what Overwatch stands for."

Blizzard is not ready to announce the new name, but plans to incorporate the change into a narrative arc originally intended to appear in the game in September. The arc has now been delayed to accommodate (and presumably justify) the cowboy's new call sign.

Currently, another popular Blizzard game, "World of Warcraft," still contains references to Jesse McCree in the form of five character names and one city name. However, multiple current employees who wished to remain anonymous out of fear of reprisal have told The Post that nods to the longtime level designer will be removed from their game soon, as well. In addition, references to two other former developers, "Diablo 4" director Luis Barriga and "World of Warcraft" designer Jonathan LeCraft, will also be removed. A Blizzard spokesperson confirmed these changes.

"We can confirm that those references in World of Warcraft will be removed," the spokesperson said.

These changes did not come out of nowhere. After a report from video game website Kotaku showed Jesse McCree in a picture and text thread associated with the "Cosby Suite," a 2013 convention hotel room alleged to have played a part in harassment of female employees, commentators of Blizzard's Overwatch League deliberately avoided saying McCree's name during matches.

This is also not the first time Blizzard has changed an in-game feature based on a real person. Shortly after California filed its suit against Activision Blizzard last month, the company removed references to former "World of Warcraft" senior creative director Alex Afrasiabi from the game. Earlier this year, the company also removed references to former Overwatch League MVP Jay "Sinatraa" Won from an in-game character skin after he was accused of sexual abuse. Not long after, Blizzard said that it will no longer create unique skins based on MVPs.

In today's statement, the Overwatch team said that in the future it will more carefully consider how it chooses to roll real-life people and events into games.

"In-game characters will no longer be named after real employees," developers said in the statement, "and we will be more thoughtful and discerning about adding real world references in future Overwatch content."

The Washington Post

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