'Overwatch' Is Revamped With Elements Of The Lunar New Year

Lucy Santos

Across the world, Asians are celebrating the Lunar New Year with many cultural festivities from the East, and this is the Year of the Rooster. Blizzard, the highly successful gaming company, is helping Asians celebrate their New Year with an update called Overwatch: Year of the Rooster.

This update of Overwatch, an entertaining game that moves at a fast pace, still keeps true to the original and highlights the meaning of the Lunar New Year with new hero characters such as Zenyatta, Reinhardt, Bajie Roadhog, and Wukong Winston. In this popular game, each battle has two teams of six players, who are depicted in the game by a hero character. They must secure and guard several points on an online map with only a limited amount of time to reach their goal.

Transforming Overwatch to reflect the Year of the Rooster was a profitable move for Blizzard. In Korea, Overwatch is one of the most in-demand online games. China is by far one of the greatest markets for Overwatch. Of all of its five million players, 50 percent are from China. Ever since Overwatch was first launched in May of 2016, there are 20 million registered players. Asian players are now enjoying this new game and celebrating the Year of the Rooster as they play it.

The latest version of Overwatch was not just designed for Asian players but for all players worldwide who simply love to play the game. Playing this game is not only a form of entertainment to reduce stress levels and have a good time. It is also a multicultural lesson about Asian culture.

Zenyatta, Reinhardt, Bajie Roadhog, and Wukong Winston, the four heroic characters of Overwatch: Year of the Rooster, are from the traditional Chinese novel Journey to the West, which is the story of Xuanzang, a Buddhist monk, and his three followers -- Sun Wukong, Zhu Bajie and Sha Wujing -- as they all take journey to India, where they get sacred scriptures to take back to China. Based on the true story of Buddhist monk Xuanzang, it is a novel that has 81 amazing adventures and bears a resemblance to the classic Western novel Gulliver's Travels.

Since many Chinese children grew up with Journey to the West, the majority are familiar with this novel. In the game Overwatch: Year of the Rooster, there is even a link to Journey of the West that is suitable for children. After playing the game, Asian children may decide to read this story again. Since they had so much fun playing the game, youngsters worldwide may even read this story. This online game is invaluable, for it can help to motivate children, across the world, to read. As they read, they will learn about Asian culture, for it is extremely important that youngsters become culturally literate.

Another interesting feature of this new Overwatch game is that the new Capture the Flag game mode is set on the Lijiang Tower. The ancient city of Lijiang, one of the most popular tourist destinations in China, is a scenic and breathtaking place with several green mountains. Many tourists, who love art visit the Baisha Mural, a place that has rich art from China's past. In 1997, Lijiang became a UNESCO Heritage Site.

Playing the updated version of Overwatch is like taking a trip to China during the Year of the Rooster. Throughout the game, there are many symbols that give this game a mysterious Eastern style. The picturesque clothes that the characters wear, in striking colors of red and gold, are considered to be lucky during the Lunar New Year. Lijiang Tower is illuminated by the backdrop of fireworks to show that a real celebration is taking place. Even the weapons that the characters use to defend themselves during fights, such as the cherry blossom stylized armor among many others, are rooted in the traditions of the east rather than the west.

In today's high-tech world, many parents and educators are concerned that youngsters spend too much time playing online games and that they are not learning anything from these games. However, Overwatch: Year of the Rooster is the exception, for it is an educational game that will make many young people feel as if they are actually traveling to China. By playing this game, they will learn about Eastern geography, and that rich culture exists outside of the Western world. Blizzard is certainly sending the right message of multiculturalism that should be the norm for many other online games.

[Featured Image by Kevin Frayer/Stringer/Getty Images]