Overwatch game director Jeff Kaplan discusses how the game’s development team has embraced inclusivity and open-mindedness. Kaplan says that Overwatch was designed to show a hopeful version of Earth, with a “future worth fighting for.”
Kaplan also addresses the decision to reveal that Overwatch character Tracer is gay as well as the influence the huge popular multiplayer game may have already had on the games industry as a whole.
Overwatch Game Director on Inclusivity, Diversity and Gay Character Tracer
Speaking earlier this week during the annual DICE Summit in Las Vegas, Kaplan revealed that the Overwatch team set out to”make the game hospitable, to make it inclusive as possible” and that “we wanted there to be heroes that would be approachable for each person.”
As the development team aimed to embrace the “differences” between Earth’s citizens and create “a game and a game universe and a world where everyone felt welcomed,” diversity was a “hot topic” during the game’s development. Though, Kaplan explained that “diversity is a beautiful end result when you embrace inclusivity and open-mindedness.”
Indeed, the diversity of Overwatch‘s character roster, in terms of gender, body type, ethnicity and sexuality has been one of the biggest draws to the game and one of its most praised aspects. It’s why stereotype-busting character like sniper Ana, who is an elderly woman of colour, have been praised and why some fans voiced concerns when it seemed that curvier character Mei had been slimmed down as she is one of few positive representations in games of women with her body type.
Speaking about Tracer’s sexuality specifically, Kaplan also said that “It’s important to show that normal things are normal” and that “What was important about Tracer was that she’s a bad-ass time-travelling hero.” It should be noted that Tracer is just one of the multiple LGBT characters in Overwatch, though she is the only one who has been confirmed so far.
During the talk at the industry event, Kaplan also spoke of how people have responded to the team’s commitment to diversity and inclusiveness. While this means that “the heroes we’re creating no longer belong to us” as the Overwatch fandom has somewhat taken world-building upon itself, the game may have also impacted the games industry itself.
The game director explained that “[Overwatch shows that] There is room for positivity and inclusiveness in our industry as well.” With the massively successful game having been out for less than a year, it’s too early to say how much of an influence the developer’s attitudes have had just yet, but many will be hoping that other games take a leaf from Overwatch‘s book in future.