Overwatch is known for its diverse roster of characters. Not just in their unique sets of abilities, but in their storied backgrounds. Yet this roster of 29 characters is still devoid of black women. Back in March 2017, a fan named Vivian Philips wrote a letter to Overwatch lLead Designer Jeff Kaplan to voice her hope for black female characters in the game. Kaplan responded months later promising that the team has “multiple black characters in development. One of them [who ended up being Doomfist] is coming soon,” as reported by Kotaku.
Kaplan covered plenty more in his three-page response to Philips. Below is one excerpt from the letter, in which Kaplan discusses Overwatch‘s influence and the challenges the team faces.
[W]e want to learn and we want to celebrate who we are—who we ALL are. My team is going to get it wrong sometimes. We shipped the game with only 70 of us and now we number 100. So it’s impossible for us to represent all walks of life. But we believe in a spirit of open-mindedness and positivity… I long for the day when it’s not a big deal [to reveal that a hero is a lesbian]. It needs to not be newsworthy. We need to help normal be normal.
Like actual people, we learn more about Overwatch‘s characters over time, and many turned out to be so much more than what we saw on the surface. For many people, Overwatch is one of the few video games where they can see themselves represented but there is still more to be done.
In Overwatch, gamers from a variety of backgrounds (regarding, but not limited to, age, gender, sexual orientation, race, and body type) can play as a character they have something in common with. Those with negative perspectives on the diversity of Overwatch‘s line-up may continuously ask, “When is it enough already?” But gamers from minority backgrounds often wonder with each new hero announcement, “Am I next?” Here’s hoping Philips, and other players, will see themselves in upcoming heroes. And that one of the upcoming black characters is a woman.
Overwatch Black Characters Should Appear in Upcoming Heroes
Philips is actually going into game development herself because she “refuse[s] to keep waiting” to be represented. She claimed she keeps Kaplan’s letter with her as a source of inspiration, motivation, and joy.