It ’ s not pretty. I know, because I went through it .
Content warning: The follow textbook contains a homophobic smudge .
Why I play Overwatch
Blizzard recently revealed that Soldier : 76, one of Overwatch ’ south heroes, had been in a relationship with another man, as described in a canonic short story. Tracer, the character who has often been seen as the face of the plot due to its box art and other marketing materials, is in a relationship with another charwoman. This relationship was revealed in an officially-released comedian.
These details don ’ thymine change the game itself in any direction. Overwatch is a competitive, hero-based shooter that doesn ’ t take into history the stories behind these characters in the game itself. But the fans much feel strongly attached to their front-runner characters, and these report or character details such as sex matter to them on an aroused tied .
Overwatch is a toxic place — be ready for it
I made the jump to Overwatch when Blizzard ’ second team revealed that Soldier : 76 is gay. There ’ south a wide spectrum of genders, backgrounds, and fight roles in Overwatch already, but immediately there is one who is like me, and it created a sense of empathy and connection I wouldn ’ t have been able to find as easily in Reinhardt or McCree .
This detail in the lore seemed to focus the anger of sealed players, however .
In one exemplify, a actor pointed out I was low on health and told another that “ Soldier Seventy Faggot ” needed heal, then berated me, my choice in hero, and Blizzard for writing a cheery character in the first place. This wasn ’ t an isolate incident .
Would that interaction have been less hostile had Soldier ’ s past relationship never been revealed ? possibly. But that fact gave the player an excuse to focus his insults on my, and the character ’ second, sex. Revealing this truth about Soldier to the worldly concern re-contextualized so a lot of the character ’ s report ; the fact that I was gay myself may have been peripheral to this player ’ sulfur desecrate, but I bought the bet on partially to be able to play as a character I could relate to. The problem is that, by doing indeed, I was hearing pointed, ongoing homophobic slurs directed at the character and, by propagation, myself .
I muted the voice new world chat after that pit .
Homophobic behavior international relations and security network ’ triiodothyronine rare in gambling, but the comments about Soldier : 76 were focused on his sex so much, the homophobia began to feel entrenched in Overwatch ’ s community culture. Blizzard has spearheaded initiatives to discourage in-game harassment, such as Play Nice, Play Fair back in 2017, but it ’ south net the ship’s company didn ’ t have the tools necessary to protect the players it wants to bring into the game. This lesson was driven home with particular military unit when I began to use Overwatch ’ s only in-game representation of Soldier ’ s sex while playing .
It turns out many of the other players didn ’ t like that one bite .
When lore becomes real
Overwatch lets you spray different designs on the walls of the game ’ randomness worldly concern, and you can unlock unlike sprays as you play. I put up in-game sprays depicting Soldier : 76 as an older world and a hero without my teammates treating them any differently than anyone else ’ sulfur for dozens of games. The other players would often place their sprays next to mine, in fact, making a point to match art styles of our respective characters as a sign of chumminess .
That changed when I started using the spray that depicted Soldier and his ex-boyfriend, Vincent. other players on the spur of the moment focused on covering the spray or dart at it. They sometimes waved when they noticed me watching. It was as if they felt they had to cover it up and react in some way. This demeanor was never deoxyadenosine monophosphate marked when I used any other of the game ’ second sprays.
I stopped using that especial spray openly, despite it being the entirely in-game representation of Soldier : 76 ’ sulfur sex. I started putting it up in places that were harder to see or find. I put Jack and Vincent ’ s photograph in less-populated corridors or confuse hallways. I didn ’ triiodothyronine perplex to see it every time I respawned and headed back into struggle, but I knew it was there. It was a way to express something about myself without making myself a target .
Every time I ’ ve done that, I felt a pang of shame. I ’ thousand using the lapp “ out of sight, out of mind ” approach to queerness that lets Blizzard get praise for canonic inclusion without making its characters ’ identities a meaningful partially of the crippled. Blizzard knows how to make the game seem welcoming, but it ’ s unable to create an actual in-game environment that mirrored its aspirations .
lol y’all homophobes indeed huffy pic.twitter.com/s7sdSg62Z2— Kenneth Shepard (@shepardcdr) January 19, 2019
For all the posturing about how Soldier : 76 ’ randomness sex doesn ’ triiodothyronine count and that “ no one cared, ” people put in the time to make video, write articles, and search for tweets from queer people to express their contempt or supposed emotionlessness about this aspect of the character. intelligibly the lore is important, and about all of us care about it on some horizontal surface .
I was playing Overwatch because of Soldier : 76, but I was hush put in a situation where I felt pressured to hide this once the plot actually began. If these character revelations only exist in the faraway corners of comics, animated shorts, and brusque stories, are detractors right when they say that none of it matters ?
Why the spray matters
According to Overwatch ’ randomness lead writer, Michael Chu, Blizzard ’ s purpose with the game has always been to represent the wide spectrum of people who play it .
“ Overwatch is built on a desire of representing an optimistic future that reflects the diversity of the world we live in, ” Chu told Polygon. “ Since establish, we ’ ve been looking at ways to systemically reduce the toxicity players are faced with a well as giving players the tools to help report other players ’ impossible behavior. ultimately, we want Overwatch the bet on to represent the values of the Overwatch population ’ s affirmative future. ”
In the detached lens of its lore, Overwatch delivers on a fortune of these ideals. flush beyond thwart characters like Soldier : 76 and Tracer, there are characters of unlike races, body-types, lineages and histories .
But Blizzard ’ s approach to slowly releasing story and lore details gave homophobia and prejudice a probability to worm its way into the culture of Overwatch long ahead anyone took a position against it. Is it besides late for the culture of Overwatch to match the one Blizzard envisioned ? No, but it ’ second going to take a fortune of solve to make those two ideas match up .
Overwatch ’ s history deals with the hope that heroes give to a worldly concern that ’ sulfur been without them for far besides long. Without real, concrete, and shameless representation, Blizzard can ’ t deliver upon that for its gay players. The spray international relations and security network ’ thyroxine going to cut it, specially when sol many players have decided that having to see it at all is intolerable.
Blizzard got me into Overwatch through Soldier : 76, but if the developer international relations and security network ’ thymine brave enough to let the character be who he is in the game itself, it ’ s passively allowing an environment that makes me a target if I try to be myself angstrom well. Players need to feel condom if Blizzard wants Overwatch to be welcoming to everyone, but before that happens the inclusion in the lore feels more like a bunker than an honest invitation .