A Blizzard Entertainment Korea employee has sparked controversy by using blackface during a Twitch livestream.
The incident was first posted about on Twitter. Twitter user @Mafirva took a screenshot of a moment in which one of the hosts on an Overwatch stream appeared on camera seemingly “cosplaying” Doomfist. One of the other hosts had used face paint to darken his skin and make the hero’s additional markings. She did it on camera as viewers and the other four hosts watched and laughed.
South Korea has a very different history from that of North America, and thus some people have defended the hosts by saying that they likely did not know of the history behind blackface. However, Blizzard is a global company and one of the biggest in the gaming industry, of which Blizzard Korea is a subset, and thus it shares not just a national outreach, but also one that stretches across the world. Overwatch in particular is a game known for having a pretty diverse roster of characters. Therefore, there is no proper excuse for employees representing a company like Blizzard to have done this.
They could have avoided this by simply quickly researching the history of blackface. Blackface is defined as using makeup to represent a caricature of a black person. It is largely used by non-black people, and first began in theater when white actors would attempt to portray black characters by darkening their skin and going as far as enlarging their lips. It has long been deemed an extremely racist and offensive action, for one doesn’t need to darken their skin color to cosplay a black character. Blackness is not an accessory; it is not something that can be taken on or off because it is not part of a costume. Blizzard Korea employees hosting an Overwatch stream would have done well to know this.
The stream was recorded—you can watch it in its entirety here. The incident begins around the 01:02:00 mark.