Diversity and representation are important aspects of the gaming community. I’ve discussed both in the context of Overwatch and Apex Legends, but I think it’s necessary to examine the responses to representation. People will always have mixed reactions to diversity. In fact, we’ve only recently started seeing a rise in ethnically diverse characters.
Response to Overwatch
There was a lot of backlashes when Blizzard confirmed that Tracer had a girlfriend. A lot of the anger seemed to stem from the loss of Tracer’s sexualization. Player’s assumed she was straight, and for some reason that fit into their ideal Overwatch lore. Making her gay somehow ruins the illusion. Not mentioning her sexuality was only significant when certain players could put her into their fantasies. We never had to state that she was straight. Now that she’s canonically gay, those same players feel as if sexuality has no place in this type of game. Their responses boil down to this: is it really necessary to sexualize this character? Of course it is, especially when players’ whole argument against her being gay revolves around them no longer being able to sexualize her in the context they were previously able to.
An almost identical situation occurred when Soldier: 76 was confirmed as gay. Certain people felt that others playing as Soldier: 76 were somehow a window into their sexuality. It’s not, by the way, some people just like the character. Homophobia worked its way into Overwatch alongside sexism and general toxicity.
Response to Apex Legends
The responses were much the same when it was revealed that Gibraltar is gay and Bloodhound is non-binary. Players thought that this was pandering to the LGBT+ community and also, for some reason, feminists. Apex is a diverse game, especially considering it only has eight playable characters. If this makes certain people stop playing the game, I don’t see a downside.
Why Make LGBT+ Characters?
It’s important to remember how wonderful these characters are for people who identify as LGBT+. People are finally able to see someone they relate to in a favorite game. They’re no longer sidekicks or NPCs but can play as a character similar to them. This inclusion provides role models for younger players confused about their own sexuality or identity.
Hopefully, we’ll also see greater acceptance as we move forward with more LGBT+ characters. As it is, homophobia is running wild in the online gaming community. These heroes have a chance to educate players on the importance of representation. If that doesn’t happen, companies are going to lose players. LGBT+ people don’t want a place in a community that so openly dislikes them.
Keep adding diverse characters to your games. Make certain players upset by representation. They’ll either keep playing or quit. This situation shouldn’t be a debate between a few extra players and inclusion. LGBT+ players matter just as much as any other player, so include them in your game.