Blizzard issued their latest patch for popular first-person shooter Overwatch this week with a routine round of bug fixes, general updates and one undisclosed yet very distinctive change — the removal of McCree’s noose spray. Sprays are decals which players can graffiti onto surfaces within the game, with each Hero having sprays exclusive to their character. The noose spray has been replaced by a horseshoe with the text “Bad Luck” emblazoned on its front.
In today's update, the Overwatch McCree "Noose" spray has been removed and replaced with the "BAD LUCK" spray. pic.twitter.com/rpMAfJlB2y
— Naeri X 나에리 (@OverwatchNaeri) July 15, 2020
McCree is a Damage hero in Overwatch; a cowboy-themed gunslinger whose appearance, voice lines and behavior pay homage to classic Western films such as The Good, the Bad and the Ugly starring Clint Eastwood and Sergio Leone’s Dollars Trilogy. His noose spray symbolized execution by hanging, a popular method of execution for criminals in the Old West and a recurring trope in Western cinema.
No official statement has been issued by Blizzard acknowledging the removal of McCree’s noose spray, though the change likely stems from the imagery of the noose being used in crass, highly insensitive in interactions with others players; either through implications of suicide or more strongly linked with the lynching of black people in America. The decision, sure to be a divisive one within the Overwatch community, seems to be the right one, as there’s no need for iconography which could be easily misinterpreted as or employed in racist or otherwise insensitive fashion in-game to be used if the auxiliary and purely cosmetic component of the game can be easily modified in a way that doesn’t alter the crux of the Overwatch hero.
And it doesn’t. Removing a spray from McCree doesn’t fundamentally change the character in any fashion.
The replacement of McCree’s noose spray comes at a time where many companies are reevaluating racially insensitive content in their games, such as Wizards of the Coast’s recent removal of racist cards from Magic: The Gathering and showing increased awareness and support for racial equality after the killing of George Floyd by police officers brought to light the rampant brutality and prejudice people of color face in America.
Do you think the removal of McCree’s noose spray was the right decision? Was the horseshoe replacement an adequate representation of the Wild West-themed damage Hero’s character? Let us know in the comments.