Gaming has come a long way since the days of the Atari 2600. It has evolved along with society. This includes sexuality, but until recently, there was very little support in the way of LGBT in video games. Overwatch’s Tracer is changing all of that.
Publisher Activision/Blizzard released a free comic ahead of Christmas introducing the popular Overwatch character in a relationship with a woman. Tracer is seen in the comic contemplating what to get her partner Emily for Christmas. In the end, Emily is pleasantly surprised by the gift even though it came to be by somewhat of an accident.
Tracer is a fulfilled promise made by Overwatch writer Michael Chu. In November Chu discussed via a Q&A session with fans his plans to approach sexuality in the popular first person shooter.
“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.
“We want the stories about characters relationships – 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. It’s something that absolutely is important to us.”
The announcement to include LGBT characters in video games with the popularity of a game like Overwatch was met with excitement by Curtis Free. Free is a member of London Gaymers, and he spoke about what this means to the community to Gay Star News.
“By having a visible LGBTI character in such a popular title, Blizzard is sending the gaming community a message that its games are for everyone.
“The very important distinction with Overwatch is that a main, playable character is being defined as LGBTI … and it really highlights the commitment Blizzard have to opening minds and normalising LGBTI characters and heroes.”
Overwatch was introduced to gamers in May. Throughout the build up which included videos of each character, Blizzard elected to refrain from discussing the character’s sexuality. The idea was for players to get to know the characters without a preconceived bias.
Tracer is not the only character in video games to be introduced as a member of the LGBT community. Marvel recently updated the popular iPhone game Marvel Avengers Academy. The game features younger versions of popular and not-so-popular characters from the Marvel Universe as they attend a school for developing superheroes.
One such superhero albeit obscure spoke openly of his sexuality. Union Jack, a superhero introduced in the 70s, discusses his sexuality in a cutscene with the sultry Black Widow. After rejecting her advances, Black Widow asks if there is another lady he has his eye on. Union Jack leaves no doubts.
“I’m telling you I’m gay.”
Marvel has recently been criticized for their lack of support for LGBT characters. It has been discussed by sites like Pink News that this may due to the fact they are attempting to appeal to a global community. Countries like Russia and China frown on portrayals of LGBT characters, but that hasn’t stopped Captain America: Civil Wars directors the Russo brothers from speaking out.
“It’s incumbent upon us as storytellers who are making mass-appeal movies to make mass-appeal movies, and to diversify as much as possible. It’s sad in the way that Hollywood lags behind other industries so significantly, one because you think that it would be a progressive industry, and two it’s such a visible industry.”
What do you think of the status of LGBT in video games? Overwatch’s Tracer is a step in the right direction, or had you preferred Blizzard go with Zarya, a character from Russia, like many people in the community had hoped?
[Featured Image via Blizzard]