Symmetra is a grade-A badass. She has the ability to utilize Hard Light at her leisure, much like a Green Lantern, minus the Ring. This means she can defy the laws of physics and gravity on a whim! But have you ever wondered why her left hand appears non-human compared to her right hand? As a mecha and cybernetics fan, it is something that initially drew me to her.
I know Genji is fully cybernetic, but Symmetra’s story was more interesting to me. Now, at first I always just thought it was a simple design choice. However, when I did some research, I understood why it’s covered. Symmetra’s real name is Satya Vaswani and she is Indian. In Symmetra ‘s culture, left-handedness is often deemed “unclean”.
The fact that she’s left-handed, as confirmed by the devs, and Indian, is a very interesting choice. This is because culturally in India the left hand’s job is to clean oneself. Due to this, children who are left-handed are subjected to training by their parents to use their right hand, as it’s seen as the proper way to do things. After she is identified as one of the few people in the world who is capable of becoming a light-bending architect, she was taken from extreme poverty and enrolled in Vishkar’s Architech Academy. In her backstory it’s well-known that she then immersed herself in her education and training, partly because she would never return home, but possibly because she was being put through the training of other left-handed people in India.
Not only would Symmetra have been different than those around her because of her left-handedness but she is also on the Autism spectrum. This is confirmed in her comic “A Better World“. In real-world statistics, Autism affects only about 23 out 10,000 children, but in India, only 1 in 68 children are diagnosed with Autism
Now this “view” on the left-handedness is not just in Indian culture, it is also viewed the same way in Arab culture. In addition to ethnic cultures, many various religious beliefs as well. The left hand is described as “dark, unclean, hidden, or yang”, for example in Christianity, where it can be considered blasphemous to draw a cross upon yourself with your left hand. Catholics during the 16 and 17th centuries believed left-handed people to be possessed by demons. In Buddhism, the left-hand path was to be rejected. Also in modern Paganism, “dark magic” is done with the left hand, and “white magic” — good magic — is done with the right hand. It is for this reason that I believe Hanzo and Genji both utilize their ultimate from their right side.
So when she began to work as a light-bending Architect for the Vishkar Corporation, I speculate that when her left-handedness was discovered they either encased her arm or more drastically, had it replaced with full cybernetics. I’m not sure if having her left arm “non-human” was purposely done or merely a coincidence? Regardless, it’s still pretty awesome that something like this is done in a game.
The fact that Satya is pivotal in Vishkar Corporation’s dealings, as shown in her comic, she’s an influential person who could be amongst the likes of the revolutionary Mahatma Gandhi, and other famous Indian lefties like Amitabh Bachchan — one of the most well-known Bollywood stars.
Although Overwatch hasn’t confirmed the meaning behind her left-handedness or the choice to make that arm cybernetics, through some cultural research I think I may have found one plausible reason. Do you have thoughts? Let me know in the comments.