Overwatch

Soldier: 76 Coming Out - Better Never Than Late

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The text of this article has been changed to better reflect the author's tone and intention. The original article was written natively in Korean and, after discussing it with the author, we present this more accurate portrayal of his opinion.

Blizzard revealed that Soldier: 76 is gay. It's been two years since Tracer's reveal as a queer character. With this change, there are now two canonically LGBTQ characters within the Overwatch universe. Considering how Blizzard has always chased after diversity since their establishment as a gaming company, it's not such a big surprise.

According to data from Gallup, 4.5% of the population in the United States is a sexual minority;  so there's nothing strange about having gay characters in Overwatch. Perhaps, in the future, even more, diverse characters with different sexual preferences will be introduced. 

There are many games that have walked this path. Following the recent popularization of a wide array of sexual representations in gaming, many developers have made diverse and different attempts to get with the times. For example, in Mass Effect: Andromeda, you were able to choose the playable character's sexual preference. In Sims, you were freely able to date and marry characters of any gender.

Some see this trend in video games as good social progress, while some criticize it, seeing the changes as forcing certain ideologies onto gamers. I think there's no right or wrong perspective here. The only reality is that our society is changing and we don't know what is to come next.

'Accept it' or 'don't accept it', no one can force their ideals onto another in a game or otherwise.

Out of place

However, the recent revelation surrounding Soldier: 76 and his sexuality felt a bit out of place to many gamers. Personally, I couldn't help but feel that the way Blizzard uses sexuality as a commodity to garner attention is worthy of criticism.

Why must an existing character's sexuality be a trending topic in the gaming community? Why must homosexual characters be used by Blizzard to gain positive press through revelatory lore details? Does Blizzard truly respect sexual minorities? I couldn't shake off my doubts.

Past games have chased after diverse sexual representation, but perhaps they didn't effectively express it. Awkward character background introductions can receive criticism, and some attempts to naturally implement sexual minorities into their games' universe did not quite land. In addition, a common criticism of sexual minorities presented in gaming is when developers make their sexuality stand out excessively; adding in unnecessary voice lines or gimmicky tropes to stereotype a character. 

Has Blizzard avoided these mistakes by effectively retconning their characters sexuality?

I think real equality between video game characters sexual representation is when a sexual minority character can exist without a loud or lore-breaking presentation. To place a character's sexuality in the limelight and act as if that reveals constitute significant backstory is a dubious practice that the game industry has done before -- is it possible they are just looking for positive press?

Whether the character is homosexual or not, why must their sexual preference be a revelatory part of their story? If Blizzard wanted to show support for sexual minorities in a way that doesn't always feel like pandering, they should try to create and treat LGBTQ characters as normally as they would heterosexual characters. The weight of their sexuality should be equal on the scale of importance.

LGBTQ characters shouldn't always be revealed through later lore additions or tons of little hints. Blizzard should throw away the thought of spotlighting them and, instead, normalize sexual minorities.

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    level 1 Oliver_Jay

    I completely agree with the article. Well said and written.

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