Tracer has been the face of Overwatch since the game’s release. She’s on the game’s box, as well as the only character you see when you launch the game. Players love her. She became even more adored, especially by players in the LGBT+ community, when Blizzard revealed her girlfriend in the comic “Reflections.” As expected, there was a backlash because of this revelation. Some players felt as if incorporating Tracer’s sexual orientation into the Overwatch lore was too political and was pandering to the LGBT+ community. Others felt as if this was a significant step in the direction of more representation.
Almost three years later, Overwatch developers confirmed a second gay character. In the short story “Bastet,” it was revealed that Soldier:76 previously had a boyfriend named Vincent. Their relationship ended because they could not live the life Soldier thought Vincent deserved. Michael Chu, the lead writer for Overwatch, later confirmed on Twitter that both Soldier: 76 and Vincent identify as gay.
In 2015, Blizzard announced that several of Overwatch’s characters are part of the LGBT+ community. They never specified which characters identify as LGBT+, which has left players with the hope that maybe more characters will speak out about their sexuality in the future.
Why Representation is Necessary
Finding mainstream games with LGBT+ characters is difficult. A few recognizable games have LGBT+ characters, but this knowledge tends to be quickly brushed over. Greater representation is necessary because it helps players feel welcome in a specific game. It also educates players who may not understand why representation is an essential component in games. When people play as a character different than themselves and invest themselves in the character’s story, it becomes a part of them. They start to understand that the differences are not immoral. Being different is what makes us human.
Games, especially those played online, like Overwatch, should be a safe place for all types of players. You can meet people like you, or people completely different from yourself. Learning about other player’s life experiences benefits everyone. Unfortunately, some people show disgust or hostility towards people in the industry who are different. Some may feel that your differences should bar you from playing a game. Representation can help stop this belief.
Subjecting players to more LGBT+ characters, or any group that is being underrepresented will eventually force acceptance. It will take time, and people will quit playing certain games because of representation, but if we can help more players feel included in the industry, I’d say its all worth it.