It’s difficult to imagine many games as popular as "Overwatch." Despite being out for over a year now, "Overwatch" continues to maintain its tremendous popularity mainly due to its fluid gameplay, original maps, and unique characters.

However, it’s the characters that really breathe life into the game. With such a wide selection of characters to choose from, it’s difficult to imagine any gamer being unable to find at least on character that fits their playing style. But what many people may not give "Overwatch" and Blizzard enough credit for is just how much the game normalizes the concepts of gender, racial, and sexual Equality.


Let’s start off with the obvious gender gap in Video Games. While there certainly has been a bit of a renaissance recently with the increase in heroines as the main characters in games as well as prominent female side characters in other games that aren’t just damsels in distress, the majority of main characters in video games are usually male. Although, this isn’t exactly a huge surprise considering the fact that boys and young men have been the main demographic targeted by gaming companies for decades. However, it's a trend that seems to be changing as of late.

For the most part, women in games are either shown as damsels in distress, or as glorified sex symbols.

However, when it comes to "Overwatch," that doesn’t seem to be the case. For the most part, the women of "Overwatch" aren’t there just to be eye candy and all of them are useful (I can’t tell you how many times some Pharah, Widowmaker, Zarya, or Tracer has given me fits). But what is even more impressive is the proportion of women to men in the game.

Out of the 24 characters in "Overwatch," about 20 of them are human, with half of them being female and the other half male. When you consider virtually any other game with a character selection as large as "Overwatch," this is unprecedented. Not to mention that Tracer has been confirmed by Blizzard to be a lesbian, which could be seen as a bit of a nod to the LGBTQ community.

All sorts of backgrounds

Another aspect of "Overwatch" that may get overlooked by some is how diverse nearly every character’s ethnic background is. While characters like McCree, Soldier 76, and Reaper all hail from America, every other character’s origin can be traced back to Asia, Europe, Africa, and even the moon. But it doesn’t stop there, many of the characters' backgrounds embrace the kind of diversity Blizzard is striving for with the game. For example, Sombra, a character of Mexican dissent, was left orphaned and poor after the Omnic Crisis, a world war between machines and humanity which essentially spawned the creation of "Overwatch." Meanwhile Symmetra, a character of Indian dissent, was confirmed by Blizzard to have autism, and Winston, a gorilla, is technically a product of animal testing.

But even at its very core, the story of "Overwatch" is a story of humanity's journey of coping with the difficulty of accepting another being's right to exist. The aforementioned Omnic crisis brought humanity together due to the very realistic possibility of extinction posed by the omnics. However, after the war, society wasn’t very accepting of omnics living amongst them, especially after the gruesome scar the war left behind. This of course led to brutal discrimination against omnics that mirrored so many real life cases of post-war discrimination. Despite this, characters such as Zenyatta, an omnic robot monk who shares many parallels with Gandhi, tries to repair these relations through interpersonal connections and engagement with humanity.

It truly is difficult to think of a game in recent memory that has put as much thought into the concept of general equality (as well as terrific gameplay) as "Overwatch."