How Overwatch Characters and Setting Exemplify Diversity in Videogaming

When we first got to know about the Overwatch characters, we knew right away that the 20 years’ wait that Blizzard has done before revealing a new IP has been well used. They have almost managed to craft everyone’s favorite character in that line up of 21, and the best part is, they are willing to increase that number by a multifold!

When we talk about videogaming, there are certain aspects of each that have been considered a norm for an excruciatingly long time. One of those aspects is the lack of actual diversity.

True, we sometimes get games that are set in a totally unseen world, with unseen scenarios and intricately designed characters, but that is not what we are talking about.

What we are talking about is gender choice, skin color, body types, and so on; all those are the true icons of diversity, not a new kind of in-game scenario or world.

With their set of 21 characters, Blizzard Entertainment has done more than one things at the same time. They have found creativity in diversity and at the same time they have given us the most close to reality Blizzard game – that is an achievement.

How Overwatch Characters Exemplify Diversity

The Overwatch characters try to give us something of everything. If you look at Tracer you get a pumped up sexy girl who has the ideal physique that any game developer would create for a female character, but when you look at Mei, she is exactly the opposite of what you would initially expect.

Mei has the ability to freeze enemies build ice walls and so on; perfect abilities for someone from the north pole right? But that is not the case, she is instead of a Chinese background with roots in the ice sculpture festivals of the country.

Not only that, Mei revolts against the conventional body type that comes to mind when you are talking about a young female character. She is nothing like Tracer, she has no revolting butt shots (or bust for that matter).

Just like Mei is a bespectacled climatologist from no where you would expect, there also is Lucio, the Brazilian disc jockey who is a black character. Similarly, the game also has almost an equal number of female and male characters; nine male and eight female which is hardly the ratio in games we have played in the past.

Pink haired Russian bodybuilder Zarya, French female assassin Widowmaker, and the female security chief Pharah from Egypt are just some examples from among the Overwatch characters.

What’s more, the developers also have a vast variety of striking contrasts in it, for instance, you could be in Numbani, a first world African nation with Bastion, the turret-cum-robot or Hanzo, one of the two Dragon brothers who were recently featured in the latest animated short.

Blizzard Entertainment says that they did not specifically plan to bring in characters and setting to represent all races, nationalities, genders and body types, but making a game set in the near future has given them such an impressive opportunity to take heed from the cultural and geographical diversity of the real world.

For us, this is a really welcome shift in the type of games that Blizzard has been making, a Blizzard game not set in a totally fantastical world and with an open ended character roster, we are definitely sitting on a game with the most potential of diversity in the current period just as it has the potential to beat the likes of The Division, Destiny and Star Wars Battlefront.

What are your impressions about the Overwatch characters and setting? Do you find it diverse enough?

Sarmad is our Senior Editor, and is also one of the more refined and cultured among us. He's 25, a finance major, and having the time of his life writing about videogames.