It is official. Blizzard actually followed-up on their word from one year ago and confirmed one of the characters of the highly popular Overwatch was indeed part of the LGBTQ+ spectrum.
That character is Lena Oxon also known as Tracer. And this is a pretty big deal.
The reveal happened in the official tie-in Webcomic, available for free in Blizzard’s official page (as of this writing, it hasn’t been released through Comixoloxy just yet) in a short story meant to celebrate the holidays.
The main story shows Tracer going through King’s Row trying to buy a gift that you can easily think is meant for Winston (another character from the game), but soon enough we discover it is actually meant for a new character named Emily who lives with Tracer and accompany’s her to Winston’s christmas dinner.
We also see them share a romantic kiss.
Now, some people are willing to go ahead and suggest this is a “platonic” kiss (which are indeed real but the people who brings them up only seem to do so when discussing same sex couples so I find discussing them a poinltess endeavor meant to derail when used in this kind of context) however, the body language in the panel (Emily gently touching Lena’s face and Lena clear comfort at the kiss) clearly indicate the kiss is meant to be romantic in nature.
Other people are wondering why would this matter. why is it necessary to have a character be Gay? or Bisexual? Why can’t they just be? why do we have to insert politics in something that is already political on the basis one of it’s themes is discrimination and is explored through the Omnics? what’s the big deal about it, anyway?
There are two reasons why having Tracer, of all characters, be queer is such a big deal.
first of all, she is the face and mascot of Overwatch.
See that? it’s the cover for “overwatch: Origins Edition”. When someone who does not know about Overwatch picks it up, Tracer is the very first thing they see.
This is the first thing you see in the battle.net menu when trying to launch Overwatch.
This is the logo of the Overwatch League.
As you can see, she is a very prominent character outside the game. She is also a very solid character pick even for Competitive.
Anyone who has even a passing knowledge of Overwatch should be able to recognize her from a simple glance. That’s how strong her presence is both inside and outside of the game.
She is literally one of the first things that comes to mind when thinking of the game. She is simply that prominent.
And because she is so prominent when someone says “Tracer is Gay/bisexual/pansexual” people are more likely to immediatly know who they are talking about than a lesser known hero such as Junkrat or Symmetra.
Secondly, Not only is Overwatch a highly succesful AAA game both critically and commercially with a lot of advertisement dedicated to it and a very sizable fanbase, Blizzard has made it very clear they are banking on it big time to be a franchise as well as trying to turn it into a respectable part of the growing E-Sports world.
Blizzard is dedicated to make Overwatch endure a long time and, despite what some people may argue, everything seems to say the game is here to stay.
In other words, a queer character is front and center in a mainstream AAA game with a game studio fully commited to supporting it for years to come and that, going forward, is only going to grow in visibility and relevance.
Tracer has become one of the most highly visible queer videogame characters ever created and that can be a gate for more diversity in videogames in the future. That’s why she matters.
That being said, it can always happen that Tracer’s identity may be forgotten since it was something that appeared in outside the game material and, admitely, it is just one panel. It’s not like a character’s sexuality hasn’t been erased before.
There is always a possibility that Blizzard does not bring it up ever again which may be the reason for fans wanting it reflected in the game with things such as voice lines.
For now, i don’t think there is anything to worry about too much. Overwatch has a pretty sizable LGBTQ+ audience and they have fully embraced Tracer’s sexuality. You just have to look at how the reveal of Korra and Asami’s bisexuality in the LoK finale made the fandom explode to see how, when given representation, the LGBTQ+ community holds to it tightly. If there was a chance for her sexuality being forgotten, that chance is gone now. The LGBTQ+ community does not forget (unless you are bisexual/pansexual, then the LG part of the community may forget but that is another discussion)
Now, obviously, Overwatch is not the first meaningful game to have LGBTQ+ characters front and center. Not counting indie games (which, sadly, do not really have the sheer level of marketing something like Overwatch has) there was the highly acclaimed “The Last Of Us” that revealed the character of Ellie was queer in the DLC “Left Behind” and who is going to star the recently announced sequel.
However, i refuse to go into a discussion comparing the two and who is better. I simply refuse to.
Both character are great and they are both a great thing to have. the way in which they matter may be different but the bottom line is: They are both important.
2016 will be remembered as a very emotionally exhausting year and Tracer’s sexuality will be remembered as one of the better things that happened. A symbol that Love always Wins
so cheer, loves. the cavalry’s queer
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