Gaming company Blizzard Entertainment revealed it will feature progressive LGBTI storylines in an update of its game, Overwatch.
During a Q&A with the game’s lead writer, Michael Chu, he revealed there will be more than one LGBTI character: ‘Like we said, it’s very important for us to have diversity and inclusiveness of all types, and that includes LGBT characters. There are definitely LGBT heroes [in Overwatch] — that’s multiple heroes.’
‘We want the stories about characters relationships — and not just romantic, but familial relationships and stuff like that — to come out in the course of stories that we feel really do them justice… it’s something that absolutely is important to us,’ Chu said.
Fans are predicting Russian character, Zarya, to come out in the latest update and the fan art has exploded online.
The London Gaymers is a fast-growing social group for LGBTI gamers to meet like-minded people to network and play games in a safe and inclusive environment.
Gay Star News spoke to Curtis Free from the London Gaymers about why this announcement is so important: ‘By having a visible LGBTI character in such a popular title, Blizzard is sending the gaming community a message that its games are for everyone.’
‘There are a growing number of games that feature LGBTI characters as part of their storytelling, and plenty of role playing games now enable you to choose the partners you wish to romance,’ he explains.
‘The very important distinction with Overwatch is that a main, playable character is being defined as LGBTI… and it really highlights the commitment Blizzard have to opening minds and normalising LGBTI characters and heroes,’ he said.
The game was released in May this year but there were no announcements during its initial release as to which characters would identify as LGBTI.
Free believes this has given a chance for people to get to know the characters, irrespective of their gender or sexual identity: ‘it’s allowed people to appreciate each character before considering their sexual orientation or gender identity – combating the historical portrayal of LGBT characters that were defined solely by their sexual orientation or gender identity.’
‘Think Dumbledore from Harry Potter – who’s character wasn’t dictated by his sexuality or coming out, it was circumstantial,’ he said.
Free believes this announcement is important because there is a historic lack of LGBTI representation in video games: ‘Many gaymers would have lived their whole childhood lives playing video games without ever coming across an identifiable LGBT character.’
‘Fast forward a few years and this same gaymer population found itself playing video games online only to be greeted with the homophobic (as well as racist, sexist and outright awful) language that has become all-too-familiar with online gaming,’ he said.
Check out the London Gaymers Facebook page for information on their next meet up.