Okay, we gotta talk about Sigma’s feet

4 min read
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Let’s just say I have some…opinions on the new Overwatch hero’s wardrobe, or lack thereof

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Earlier this week, the 31st Overwatch hero was shown off with a pretty chilling announcement trailer. The mad scientist working for the shady organisation obtained his gravity bending powers by experimenting with black holes, which as anyone who’s read a comic book can tell you, is not exactly a fantastic idea. The experiment goes horribly wrong and results in Sigma fracturing his mind in a very literal sense, driving him into mental instability and seemingly warping his self-image into that of a power-crazed bad guy.

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It’s a pretty interesting origin story, honestly, and I’ll be honest and say that I really like his design…until you look to the bottom of Sigma’s armour. Kinda makes sense why Blizzard pulled a Todd MacFarlane and didn’t show off anything below his shins because Sigma’s not wearing any shoes and looks real weird. I understand where they’re coming from with the design, as noted by one of the game’s character artists who worked on Sigma, Qiu Fang, the absence of shoes on this hulking man in battle armour is meant to evoke “the asylum look”. The quote, taken from Fang’s ArtStation page goes into further detail behind the bare-foot behemoth:

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!

Now, there’ve been two stances taken to the seemingly wild image of this battlesuit-wearing mad scientist without shoes and I’m honestly kinda sympathetic to both. Many people have taken issue with the fact that Sigma, who’s been confirmed to be struggling with a personality disorder, is depicted as insane in terms of my physical design. There is a long running history of mental illness in media being depicted as evil and villainous, which has obviously not helped the stigma attached to many serious mental health problems.

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But at the same time…he is criminally insane, sooooooo? I personally quite like that he’s bare-foot, and not because of that, you pervert. I agree that it really does sell the whole mad scientist image and giving him footwear of some kind of have made him super generic. The image is an absurd one, this master of gravity and black holes charging into battle with the “pit-pat” of bare feet on concrete, but I think that really works to sell what Sigma is all about. He’s a scientist who’s had his mind fractured and is working for a team of villains; shoes are probably not the biggest concern for him. Also, he floats everywhere.

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Look, as someone who struggles and has struggled with mental illness in the past, I get the knee jerk reaction from many that depicting someone who suffers from similar disorders as evil because of those disorders isn’t the greatest step forward for representation. Yet I also kinda admire that Sigma isn’t a cowardly, shrivelled up, shivering shell of a person as is so often shown in popular media. He’s intelligent, confident and capable despite his mental illness, and I appreciate that part of him. Besides, if we’re talking about representation in Overwatch, there are bigger issues to look into. Like how both Talon and Overwatch are allergic to black women.

Last Updated: July 25, 2019

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