‘Overwatch’ On Hero Diversity: LGBT Characters In The Works

Equal representation has always been a goal of Overwatch, and it’s looking pretty good with female desexualization and an upcoming introduction of LGBT heroes.

Oversexualization of females in video games has been a long-standing problem in the industry. Forbes notes that there is substantial proof, in the form of the sheer number of sexist video games, that women are driven away from the gaming industry because of the how sexual the gender is portrayed in games. Look at all the female characters from World of Warcraft, Streetfighter, Mortal Kombat, just to name very few. These are huge gaming titles that even kids play. But look at how women are portrayed in this games.

Overwatch has received a good reception ever since it was released in May 2016, especially on the gender front. In fact, as early as 2014, via Polygon, Overwatch creator Blizzard knew that they wanted to create Overwatch to become something that can make its wide array of fans feel equally represented by Overwatch heroes.

During a press conference at the 2014 BlizzCon, Blizzard’s Chris Metzen revealed that there was a change in how they approached hero design in Overwatch.

“Even my daughter tools me out about it. We were looking at old Warcraft stuff on YouTube, a cinematic… and my daughter is like, ‘Why are they all in swimsuits?’ And I’m like ‘Ugh, I don’t know, honey.’”

“I think we’re clearly in an age where gaming is for everybody. We build games for everybody. We want everyone to come and play. Increasingly, people want to feel represented, from all walks of life, boys and girls, everybody.”

In fact, it’s interesting to look at Overwatch‘s new female hero, Sombra. Sombra is Overwatch‘s newest female hero, and it’s refreshing to see a female character not having to flaunt her chest or her legs just to get noticed. In fact, Sombra is quite the hero, packing quite a punch with her hacking abilities. While in canon, the role of the hacker would usually fall to the geeky male, Sombra’s portrayal in Overwatch as a 30-year-old Mexican hacker and infiltrator is quite refreshing.

Talking to Overwatch lead hero designer Geoff Goodman and artist Rachel Day at BlizzCon, Kotaku found out what went into the making of Sombra. While she might be seen as an overpowered character, Goodman explains that that was intentional–and not just with her but with other Overwatch heroes as well.

“Definitely we get the overpowered thing pretty much every time we reveal a new hero, which is actually good. I really hope for that, because it’s very intentional, and we want to make everybody feel overpowered.”

And in Blizzard, it’s not just empowering the females anymore. There has been increasing talk about the entrance of canonically gay characters in Overwatch, especially with characters like Zarya, who gets a lot of attention and gay ships from fans, Kotaku reports.

Day explains how significant it is to the Overwatch team to create something for everybody.

“We’re here to build a very diverse game. We’re looking globally, we’re looking for all different kinds of people, different body types, all of that. Maybe we’re not telling any romantic stories at the moment, but it’s a possibility for the future for sure. I don’t think that we’d want to exclude anybody from that kind of interaction.”

Goodman builds on what Day shares and confirms that an LGBT character is really in the works.

“There is an LGBT character in the game. It’s difficult, because we don’t want to just be weirdly heavy-handed with this. We have comics and a bunch of other media to show this. We don’t want to force something in the game that is just going to feel like it’s in people’s face. We don’t want people to be like, ‘This just doesn’t make sense.’”

In fact, it’s more than one LGBT hero, NewNowNext reported. Overwatch lead writer Michael Chu confirmed at the Blizzcon panel that there would be multiple LGBT heroes, and it was something they had been developing early on, influenced heavily by fan demand.

If you’ve yet to get Overwatch, then you should definitely do so. Overwatch will be free to play next weekend on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC from November 18 to 21.

[Featured Image by Blizzard]