In a quiet move, Blizzard Entertainment has taken a rather large step forward in the world of LGBTQ rights, confirming in their latest Overwatch comic that the character Tracer is a lesbian. Do you hear that sound? That’s the sound of a thousand ‘ships sinking in the night.
“Reflections” tells the story of Tracer as she’s searching for the perfect present. At first, because of how the story is presented, we are made to think that the present is for Winston, the genetically engineered gorilla that kicks off the Overwatch recall. As the story unfolds, we find out that the gift is actually for Emily, her girlfriend.
The inclusion of an LGBTQ character in a video game may not seem all that progressive; after all, several characters from numerous franchises have been confirmed as gay in recent years. Kung Jin from Mortal Kombat X is gay, as is the lead character from Life is Strange. Fire Emblem Fates from the Fire Emblem franchise has a same-sex marriage option for the player.
Blizzard has been teasing that several characters in Overwatch are LGBTQ since 2015. When questioned directly about it at the 2016 Blizzcon Overwatch panel, Michael Chu, the lead writer for Overwatch, replied,
“We definitely haven’t forgotten about what we said. Like we said, it’s very important for us to have diversity and inclusiveness of all types, and that includes LGBT characters. There are definitely LGBT heroes [in Overwatch] — that’s multiple heroes.
“It’s a decision that we make when we’re developing these heroes early on. We want the stories about characters relationships — and not just romantic, but familial relationships and stuff like that — to come out in the course of stories that we feel really do them justice. So, because of some of the stories that we’ve done so far, we haven’t really had any time to shed light on that.
“But, that said, I can say that we do have a story coming up soon — and that’s not Blizzard soon, it’s actually soon — that will address this. And, just to reiterate, it’s something that absolutely is important to us.”
The revelation that Tracer is gay, however, goes far beyond those examples. Tracer is the flagship character for Overwatch and is on the cover of every Overwatch game. It’s also remarkable in how Blizzard handled the reveal. The premise was simple, and the kiss that seals the deal is a natural flow of the story. It wasn’t sensationalized for the sake of inclusion.
This isn’t the first character that Blizzard has shown to be inclusive. In a previous comic, Symmetra, another character from Overwatch, was shown to be autistic. This was also handled spectacularly, with Symmetra merely reflecting on a memory as she crossed a bridge made of light.
In a statement released to Kotaku, Blizzard responded to concerns about revealing Tracer’s sexuality by saying,
“As in real life, having variety in our characters and their identities and backgrounds helps create a richer and deeper overall fictional universe. From the beginning, we’ve wanted the universe of Overwatch to feel welcoming and inclusive, and to reflect the diversity of our players around the world. As with any aspect of our characters’ backgrounds, their sexuality is just one part of what makes our heroes who they are. From the very beginning of our work on Tracer’s story, it just felt right to make this an aspect of her character.”
While this is just a single character, fans on Twitter are already embracing the new canon.
Some Overwatch players, however, are not quite as thrilled.
What do you think of the revelation that Tracer is gay? Let us know what you think of how Blizzard is handling inclusiveness in the comments section below.
[Featured Image by Blizzard]