advocacy: have some perspective, don’t throw your own people under the bus
I’ve seen a lot of discourse lately about how Blizzard is handling Emily/Tracer wrong - how there’s no sign of it in the game, etc. etc. And there isn’t, yet. There isn’t any sign Tracer is gay in the actual game, so it’s fair comment. I’ve also seem what is pretty unfair conclusions about why this is thrown around, I’ve seen really nasty snark disguised as witty criticism., and it… leaves a bad taste in my mouth, really.
A very close friend of mine works in an AAA studio. She’s worked in gaming for 10 years. She literally works herself to the bone trying to push social justice in games - and it’s like pushing a fucking boulder uphill forever, let me tell you. I’ve watched what this tireless advocacy is doing to her. Nevertheless, she keeps going.
It’s because of people like my friend that Overwatch exists - people who have persistently, tirelessly, at threat to their relationships, livelihoods and careers advocated for diversity and representation in games.
I can only imagine how fucking hard it’s been to change the culture in Blizzard into a company where they publish an AAA game that is as diverse as Overwatch. It’s because of people like my friend, allies, and other supportive people that we have Overwatch at all.
Let’s review some of the great things about the game: a variety of diverse races, ethnicities and identities - consultation was pretty fucking good for most of those. And they listen to our comments about what’s missing, too. We didn’t like that Pharah’s VA wasn’t Egyptian, so what did they do? They got an Egyptian VA living in Egypt to voice Ana. We didn’t like the lack of black characters, and they’ve promised more, and the latest new character is an Omnic created by child genius Efi who is black - and they got a black woman for Orisa’s VA.
Blizzard has handled female characters very well. We complained after they’d released their initial characters that the body type of the female characters was generic and not diverse. So what did they do? They gave us Zarya and Mei. We complained that Tracer was being objectified in one of her poses. What did they do? They changed the fucking pose. They have given us a Muslim single mum who’s 60 old, still a soldier, has sexual agency and is more than just her role as ‘Mum’. The spread of female characters isn’t 16-25 as per most games that have female protagonists, but 19-60, with the majority of them being in their 30s, and that is fucking great.
And all of this is aside from the fact that Tracer - the face of the fucking game - is canon, confirmed lesbian in those words by both the devs and in ¾ of a big major comic. She’s in a healthy adult relationship. Plus, there’s more to come. We know more characters are queer, too.
There’s probably more stuff to add, but off the top of my head - how great is this fucking game?????
Now, it’s not to say that all of this has been done perfectly - there’s always room for improvement. They always could do things better. But the tone of some of the posts I’ve read is as if none of this exists. As if Blizzard has spat in our faces, somehow, by not having Tracer have mentioned Emily in the game yet. The anger, the entitlement, the mockery.
You’re mocking probably a bunch of queer people, people of colour and women who have pushed and pushed and pushed the gaming industry for decades in order to get a game like Overwatch. You’re mocking people like my friend who has slogged her fucking guts out to get what we’ve got in the games her company produces. Can you imagine what it must be like for those people, responsible for these changes in Blizzard and in the industry, to read people bitching about the fact Tracer doesn’t say anything about Emily (yet) when they’ve pushed so fucking hard just to get what we’ve gotten?
Do you realise how horribly ungrateful and rude that sounds? You may not be aiming your criticism at these people, but they’re among us. They read social media. They’re real people with real feelings.
Can we please have some appreciation for just how far Overwatch has taken diversity in games? Because there’s a bunch of minority folks behind this push, mark my words.
This post is not to discourage criticism, but please, please think of the tone of voice you give it in. Don’t be cruel or unfair. Don’t mock. Don’t be ungateful, please.
“It’s as if Emily doesn’t even fucking exist, I wonder why that is lollllll fucking blizz” works so much better as “Hey Blizz, I love that Tracer has a girlfriend! Let’s have Tracer mention Emily in the game? :D”
There are ways to deliver suggestions and feedback that don’t shit all over the people who’ve worked so hard to bring this game to you. Please take an extra 5 seconds to consider not sounding entitled and awful, and think about how else you could deliver this feedback so you’re not hurting the people who have worked their whole lives so you have it <3