Blizzard announces Overwatch’s Soldier: 76 is gay, fan base squeals
Video game company Blizzard has revealed a second canonically gay character in Overwatch, one of the most popular games in the world. Reactions were mixed.
Soldier: 76 (aka Jack Morrison), the over-the-top grizzled macho man with a gravelly voice and quite a few battle scars, is gay and has been all along, a new in-universe short story has revealed. Story designer Michael Chu has confirmed it in a tweet.
Thanks for all the messages about “Bastet”!Jack and Vincent were in a romantic relationship many years ago. Both identify as gay. ❤️— Michael Chu 🎉💼 (@westofhouse) January 7, 2019
Obviously, a big chunk of the Overwatch fan base responded with a collective deafening squeal of delight.
Thank you for the confirmation. And happy late new year! pic.twitter.com/Hlgn3geqdA— ❄Miss Mijumarufan❄ (@MijumaruFan) January 7, 2019
But there were numerous skeptical voices, as well. Few objected to 76’s queerness per se, however most were unhappy with its clumsy introduction.
A lot of comparison was drawn to JK Rowling and her announcement of Hogwarts headmaster, Dumbledore’s gayness: while having zero impact on the already-established story, it was seen as a cheap publicity boost.
It's pretty interesting how Blizzard is diversifying the Overwatch cast's sexuality, but I can't say I'm a fan of the Rowling-style "actually this character was like this all along I just didn't put it anywhere you could see it" style of diversification.— Imran Khan (@imranzomg) January 7, 2019
Others thought the timing was conspicuous, and accused Blizzard of trying to create a diversion from the scandals plaguing it, like the backlash against a Diablo mobile game and allowing a male player enter an esports league under a fabricated female identity (the “Ellie” reference in the tweet below).
The way Blizzard handles Overwatch lore – releasing very little of it initially and gradually filling in the gaps with comics and short stories – allows it to tailor characters’ biographies as they go, and it’s ultimately hard to tell whether 76 or the other LGBT character, Tracer (who came out in 2016), were intended this way from the start. But pre-coming out 76 was seen by many as one of the most boring heroes around, the default male white action hero.
me: s76 is the most boring character in overwatch blizzard: hey check out this backstoryme: pic.twitter.com/7t5GPuQhwA— adri 🌙 (@felandaris) January 7, 2019
What Blizzard has succeeded in doing is getting an injection of positive coverage, considering that writing anything negative next to the word “gay” could be ruinous for a Western mainstream media outlet’s reputation.
At the end of the day, the new bit of lore, while upending some assumptions, will have absolutely zero impact on those who actually play Overwatch – except perhaps for the occasional hardcore homophobe. Unless…
I love Soldier 76's new voice line "I AM GAY AND PLAYING AS ME MAKES YOU GAY" and how his ult sends an email to your dad that reads DAD I'M GAY— Eclipse Jared Rosen (@notquitefrodo) January 7, 2019
patch notes: soldier 76's tactical visor now only targets heterosexual heroes (torbjorn)— roadhog's pit slave (@luigi_ebooks) January 7, 2019
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