Overwatch, one of the world's most popular video games, is well known for its diverse cast of characters. From race to gender to sexual orientation, Overwatch's heroes are incredibly varied and relatable. However, it wasn't until recently that some of the game's LGBT heroes were officially affirmed as such. The hero Tracer was revealed to be lesbian in a 2016 comic, and the gruff Soldier: 76 received his own short story that confirmed him as gay in 2019. A newly added support character, Lifeweaver, is also pansexual.
While it's great to see Overwatch becoming more inclusive, it's important that it does so without sacrificing its core gameplay. A study published by Scientific American has found that when a character is revealed to be gay in a video game, there can be an immediate drop in the player's "pick rate," meaning how many times they select the hero during a match.
It seems that the Overwatch team understands this danger, as they have introduced a new Pride event and cosmetic items to celebrate its LGBTQ characters. However, some players have been concerned that this could lead to harassment in the community.
While most players have responded positively to the news that Overwatch characters Pharah and Baptiste are queer, a small group of self proclaimed hardcore gamers has thrown a temper tantrum over it. Whether these sexist, racist and homophobic players will be silenced by the Overwatch community or not remains to be seen.