Recently, Blizzard Entertainment confirmed a long held fan theory that one of their characters in the Overwatch game, named Symmetra, is autistic. Overwatch has already been hailed as having one of the most diverse cast of characters ever and this just enhances that reputation. A young autistic boy named Samuel picked up on Symmetra’s behavior and uinique. He wrote a letter asking if she was really on the autism spectrum like he is and got a letter of confirmation in return. Also, the fact that it was only confirmed after a a young autistic fan wrote a letter to Overwatch’s director Jeff Kaplan means that Blizzard wasn’t trying to cash in on the diversity of their game.
They’ve shown a willingness to adapt to the outcry of their fans when they altered the finishing pose of a character named Tracer because many fans agreed it was overtly sexual and unfitting for the character traits of Tracer. They’ve acknowledged their mistakes and do what they can to correct them. Many gaming companies wouldn’t go through the trouble. Overwatch boasts a fifty/fifty split between genders and white or non-white fighters. Their cast comes from six different continents and even other planets. One of the most challenging things about setting yourself up as a diverse and representative game is that you are held to a higher standard than everyone who doesn’t make the effort to be so inclusive.
Overwatch only has one confirmed LGBTQ character and many have called her more of a token of diversity rather than actual representation. Yes, Tracer is basically the mascot of the game but that only enhances the possibility of the token stereotype. It is also a bit underwhelming to praise a game for just one LGBTQ character. I mean check out games like Saints Row IV, where sexuality and gender is treated like just one more way to customize your character or take a lesson from anime about acceptance. The makers of Overwatch did claim that she is not alone and there are multiple LGBTQ characters in the game already, but they failed to name any more specifically. This could be construed as fan service without commitment, but they have stated they want people to get to know all of these characters before defining their sexuality.
The facts are the facts: Overwatch has been out for over a year now and is still holding strong as one of the most popular games on the market. They have made an effort to be inclusive and offered up a cast of characters that is more representative of real people than most games. On top of all that, they even managed to make a multiplayer shooter that was praised across the board for its game play and inventive mechanics.
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