When Blizzard announced that the leader of the hero group, Overwatch, was gay, it was spread all over the news across every major gaming website. It was forced to trend on Twitter, and every major YouTuber who covers Overwatch (or gaming in general) talked about it. But that wasn’t enough for some Social Justice Warriors: Soldier 76 being gay needed to be witnessed – no, forced onto more gamers.
ScreenRant wrote a piece titled “Blizzard Reveals That Soldier: 76 Is Gay – But It Isn’t Enough”
Jack Gardner literally laments that people who didn’t seek the story out will miss out on the news entirely, writing…
“The way Blizzard presented Soldier: 76’s sexuality could easily be misinterpreted or missed entirely. Michael Chu’s “Bastet” is a great read, but it’s only going to reach a small group of dedicated super fans. It was given prime placement on the Overwatch launcher itself, but even that doesn’t mean all that much to most players who simply glaze over those announcements while moving their mouse to the play button. The segment of gamers who will read the story shrinks even further when considering that console players don’t see the same launcher and, consequently, aren’t exposed to the story in the first place.”
Gardner goes on to say that the subtle hints about Soldier 76’s homosexuality in the comic left too many people questioning his sexuality, and that character writer had to take to Twitter to scrub all subtlety from the characterization in the comic and reveal that Soldier 76 “identifies as gay”.
In Gardner’s mind, a fictional character’s sexuality is a “big deal”, and that it becomes problematic for console gamers who don’t have the rod of information thrust down the lips of their mind regarding Soldier 76’s penchant for pole surfing with his tongue, writing…
“To be clear: it’s a big deal that Soldier: 76 is romantically attracted to men. It represents a lot to the LGBTQ community who play the game, while also standing as a really awesome piece of character development. It’s great, full stop. The problem comes into focus when we take a step back and realize that a huge portion of the fan base, the console players, never see the one piece of story content that depicts Soldier: 76 as being gay. On top of that, its subtle implementation might leave many players in the classic “Harold, they’re lesbians” meme scenario, totally oblivious to its implications; especially if they miss the confirmation tweet from Michael Chu.”
The bigger question is: what are the implications of not knowing that a fictional character engages in rummaging through another man’s rectal cavity with his pelvis pipe?
Gardner doesn’t seem to have an answer.
Instead the gears are switched over to how Blizzard shouldn’t have pulled a J.K. Rowling because there’s a lot of “enthusiasm” from the LGBTQ community, writing…
“We would all do well to remember that, because as fantastic as it is that Overwatch now has a playable, canonically gay character, Blizzard is a colossal corporation. Overwatch exists as one of their most lucrative pieces of gaming content. They played it safe with the reveal that Jack Morrison is gay, relegating it to an piece of world-building lore that only a minority of players will see.
“This was also a problem with Tracer’s lesbian reveal; as heartwarming as it was, there are still many people playing Overwatch who have no idea that the zippy, cheerful face of the team-based FPS loves women. Both Tracer and now Soldier: 76 should have those very important pieces of their character lore included in the actual Overwatch game. A game that, it should be be added, benefits from the enthusiasm of the LGBTQ community by portraying its characters as members of the community without actually committing to anything substantive in-game. Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling famously declared that Hogwarts headmaster Dumbledore was gay years after the core books were finished without ever putting that into the actual text of her works. It’s a move that’s better than nothing, but does not represent a strong stance by any stretch of the imagination. Blizzard has done practically the same thing here.”
This still doesn’t answer the question: Why is it important that gamers be forced to know this?
Is it really so imperative that tiny Jane knows that Tracer prefers roast beef over sausage? Or that she enjoys the smell of fresh tacos and fish over hard pastrami?
Is it really so imperative that little Timmy knows that Soldier 76 managed to get such amazing glutes by doing squats on his partner’s flesh-bar? Or is it so essential to learn that his jaw muscles are as strong as they are because he learned how to swallow without using his teeth?
And more importantly, how does knowing the sexual exploits of two of the main characters exactly help, change, or improve the overall gameplay?
It’s the equivalent of your uncle sitting down at the Christmas dinner and saying, “Everybody, I just banged two hookers last night and neither of them had gonorrhea.” Sure, you’re not going to feel as paranoid after having shook his hand, but it’s not going to make your meal anymore enjoyable.
The necessity of exposing the larger playerbase to the homosexual tendencies of two of its cast mates is never really expounded upon by ScreenRant. That’s not to mention that only a tiny percentage of people even identify as on the LGBTQ spectrum, even according to Gallup, which puts the national average at 4.5%. So why exactly would Blizzard force the majority of their straight players to have to engage with the homosexual tendencies of two of its non-straight characters?
It’s the equivalent of inviting Dana Loesch from the NRA to Berkeley University to give a speech about the importance of personal protection, or inviting Milo Yiannopoulos onto the campus to talk about free speech. Heck, you don’t even have to imagine it… because it actually happened!
The only salient point that Gardner makes is in regards to Blizzard possibly using the outing of Soldier 76’s sexuality as a marketing ploy to distract from the blemish that was the Ellie fake news incident, writing…
“Announcing a gay Soldier: 76 gives the game a major positive PR boost and shifts the story away from narratives about harassment in the community and the subset of toxic professional players. Those two facts together make for a situation where it looks like Blizzard used this announcement for PR purposes, like they exploited their LGBTQ fans as a way of scoring a win in the press. rather than including a diverse cast because that’s the right thing to do for a global game like Overwatch.”
The question is: how exactly was it exploiting the LGBTQ community to announce a character is gay following the media getting caught with its pants down over fake news? More than anything, it saved the game journalists from further embarrassment more than it did Blizzard, since Blizzard was only tangentially involved in that nonsense, where-as game journalists created that nonsense. In fact, the Ellie controversy was already fading away quicker from the public’s perception than a virgin’s erection after seeing nude pictures of Rosanne Barr. Announcing Soldier 76 as gay didn’t really give Blizzard brownie points so much as it made most average gamers groan and roll their eyes.
Also, ScreenRant still ignores why is it the right thing to do to force the wider gaming audience to be exposed to fictional characters’ homosexual tendencies? The game doesn’t even have a story mode, so other than virtue signaling identity politics, what exactly does a character’s sexuality bring to the table for a first-person multiplayer shooter?
At the end of the piece Gardner actually suggests how Blizzard can incorporate the sexuality of the characters into the game itself, via mini solo campaigns, writing…
“If Blizzard wants to genuinely do right by their LGBTQ players, steps exist for them to do better. They can time their important releases to avoid looking like a PR distraction, intentional or not. Perhaps even more importantly, they could actually include more substantial representation in the game itself. It could be as subtle as a spray of a clearly romantic encounter or a lovelorn voice line heavy with regret or even an emote! Even better than any of those, Overwatch might benefit from small solo campaigns that explore each character’s story and could take the time to depict nuanced relationships in interesting ways. Make it meaningful, fully integrated content within the game. Overwatch players deserve better than halfhearted gestures toward inclusion from a company that happily profits off of the people who desperately want to see characters like themselves in a video game.”
It’s absolutely baffling to me that social justice warriors would be more concerned with making sure all non-LGBTQ gamers are experiencing LGBTQ stories rather than Blizzard focusing on improving the actual game so that it’s appealing to more than just IdPol obsessives and Social Justice Warriors.
The average gamer wasn’t drawn to Overwatch to find out who bangs who and how. But obviously, while Activision is being investigated for fraud, Blizzard is causing the company’s stock to fail miserably, executives are bailing rapidly, and gamers are taking their controllers and going elsewhere, the fringe minority is still concerned about the very things that helped lead towards the company’s demise: fruitless pursuits in identity politics. And worse yet, even while Blizzard is still trying to cater to a fringe minority, the fringe minority is still saying that the pandering isn’t enough.
At their current rate of getting “woke” Blizzard seems to be taking a one-way ticket straight to Brokesville.
(Main image courtesy of BoardingTheArk)