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“Overwatch:” Consolidation with representation

“Overwatch” is a team-based, first-person shooter game that’s set on a futuristic Earth and stars heroes of many nationalities, ethnicities, sexualities and body-types. Not only do our heroes battle in far-flung locales, including places like England, Egypt, China and Nepal, the heroes themselves hail from all over the globe. “Overwatch” has 22 playable characters who all have unique designs and backgrounds. An early fan-favorite, Winston, is a super-intelligent scientist and ape. Genji is a Japanese cyborg whose main storyline revolves around his near-fatal falling out with his still-human brother, Hanzo. Another early favorite, D.Va, was a competitive StarCraft player in South Korea before she joined “Overwatch” as a Mech Pilot.

Blizzard, the creators of “Overwatch,” have made good on their promise to give players female characters that are not sexualized. Instead, there are charismatic and valiant women like Pharah, an Egyptian soldier who dedicated her life to “Overwatch” since she was a child. Shedding the popular video game trope of women in little more than a two piece, Pharah dons a full suit of armor that is actually functional. Ana, Pharah’s mother and fellow soldier, also wears an outfit that is better suited for battle than the ever-present male gaze.

“Overwatch” is one of the first video games that has characters players can actually identify with. Representation in media is imperative, especially when it comes to media that children frequently consume, such as videogames. “Overwatch” Director Jeffrey Kaplan told TIME Magazine: “We very much believe in inclusivity at Blizzard, and I like to talk about inclusivity even more than diversity. We want “Overwatch” to be this bright, positive universe, where everybody feels like they could be a hero.” “Overwatch’s” commitment to inclusivity goes much deeper than just race and nationality, with their character Symmetra who is canonically autistic. Symmetra thinks to herself in her storyline comic, “Sanjay has always said I was… different, everyone has. Asking where I fit on the spectrum. It used to bother me. Because I knew it was true. It doesn’t bother me anymore. Because I can do things nobody else can do.”

“Overwatch” Artistic Director Bill Petras even confirmed that there would be gay characters in the game while he was at Blizzcon 2015. With “Overwatch’s” diverse cast of characters, it is not hard to find some piece of yourself in the game. You might even find yourself hopeful for future videogames to follow in “Overwatch’s” footsteps.

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