During his keynote presentation at D.I.C.E. Summit, Overwatch game director Jeff Kaplan addressed how the extremely diverse cast were designed with one goal in mind: normal. In particular, he stated that the most important thing during the design of these characters, was to present “normal things as normal.” During the latter point in the talk, Kaplan was referring specifically to Tracer, and the recent announcement via the comic book Reflections by lead writer Michael Chu.
“Reflections happened to reveal that Tracer had a girlfriend at home, not a boyfriend like some people expected. And this is all part of what we on the Overwatch team think of as: normal things are normal. It’s important to show normal things as normal, so they become more normal. A lot of people had expected other characters to maybe be representative of the LGBT community and maybe it wasn’t Tracer. To us, what was important about Tracer was that she was this badass, time-travelling hero, first and foremost.
“I was preparing for this talk and I took a moment to study some of the shooters over the last 10 years and I was looking into these game, and these are some of my favourite games of all time… I started to notice a trend as I put the box covers together. And the trend seems to be grizzled soldier dude and it made me think about just how different Overwatch was. It’s very different to have an LGBT character in the cover and also one who’s a female, so it’s something that we’re pretty proud of.”
Kaplan touches on a lot here, and I couldn’t be more proud. The fact that Tracer has a girlfriend doesn’t influence the game at all, just like all of the other character’s back stories (beyond their particular abilities), is a step in the right direction for this particular case. Normal as normal. Though if Overwatch does gain a plot in-game, Tracer’s sexuality must still be a part of who she is, just as race and occupation must be a part of who Mei or D. Va is.
Do you think Kaplan and the Overwatch team has the right idea here? Why is showing diversity in the characters of Overwatch as normal so important? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.