Overwatch Reflections: Tracer’s Sexuality Controversy?

Overwatch Reflections: Tracer’s Sexuality Controversy?

When it comes to Overwatch, Blizzard has been fantastic with giving us more pieces of the insane puzzle that makes the game up. Via animated shorts, comic shorts, and new DLCs for the game, there’s always something happening to keep the game fresh. Yesterday, they released the comic short “Reflections” that focuses in on Tracer and Winston’s holidays while providing us snippets of the other characters as well. There was so much to take note of in that little comic, but the main focus has been Tracer. Why? Because after much talk about Overwatch having an LGBT character, they finally revealed who it was … Tracer. Cool, right? Depends who you ask.

If you flop around social media, you’ll have mixed reactions. Positive, negative, and neutral. In my opinion, I think there’s a lot of noise that is unnecessary, as being gay is an everyday normal. “Being gay?! In MY video game?!” Well, yes. What’s wrong with that? So, here I am with my unwanted two cents on the matter: I think it’s awesome.

We’ve got Tracer, or Lena Oxton; she’s one of my favorite characters. She’s not my main, that title goes to D.Va. However, I really enjoy playing her and am trying to get better at her. I love her voice and personality, and have been enjoying her story thus far. “Reflections” comes out with her on the cover and I think, “score! Some more Tracer info!” Because, yeah, I want to know more about her. I want more background information, I want to know the basics about her, her interests. What are her hobbies? What does she do aside from Tracer – rather, what is Lena Oxton all about? “Reflections” gave me a small snippet of that.

Seems she shares Christmas with Winston, which is great considering Winston doesn’t really have family anymore. Granted, I’m not 100% positive where this comic takes place in Overwatch‘s timeline…but I digress. The majority of the comic short is about her trying to get this teal scarf. I assumed it was for Winston, but when the scene shifts to what appears to be Tracer’s apartment, there’s a red-headed girl named Emily there. So the scarf was for Emily. Okay. Who is Emily? What role does she play in Tracer’s (rather, Lena’s) life? Friend? Family member? Roommate? Wrong x3 – six panels later, Emily kisses Lena in gratitude for getting her the teal scarf she wanted. Oh. Oh. So there’s the LGBT character Blizzard mentioned!

A lot of people have been complaining that Blizzard has become too complacent, are trying to pander to people, and be “politically correct.” At that, I tilt my head in confusion. What difference does it make? It’s still Tracer. Her powers are still the same, clothes are still the same, personality is still the same. Every thing about her is still the exact same, nothing changes. Then comes the next argument: then why do it at all?  It’s simply a multi-player FPS game, why get into characters’ sexualities and orientation? To that I throw back – why not?

I’m not much of an FPS gamer. Truth be told, I was 100% out of the next gen gaming loop until Overwatch dropped back in May, 2016. I had been playing Star Wars: Battlefront, but was getting a little bored and was definitely irritated by having to cough up more money for DLC containing new maps. That just wasn’t worth it for me. I considered (and still do, really) myself a retro gamer; I much prefer the Genesis, Saturn, Dreamcast, and PS2 for my gaming fixes (throw the 3DS in there thanks to Pokémon!). Overwatch got me when I didn’t expect it with its diverse cast of characters, bright and lively gameplay, and interesting story – well, what I had of it. I bought it two days after release and I became hooked immediately.

I’m big into characters, story, plot, character development, and the like. Overwatch gave me only part of a story, but it was a story I really wanted to know – and still do. They gave me a cast of characters I was intrigued by, and after seven months of game play, I want to know more about them even more than before. I live for character backgrounds and development. I’ve been into writing fiction and fanfiction for years, and I’ve been a gigantic fan of RPGs and JRPGs since the very beginning of my gaming “career.” It makes me dive deeper into a character’s world when I know more about it. Sonic the Hedgehog liking chili dogs – that’s a fantastic tidbit for me to know. Chun-Li liking crepes, too! Neither have absolutely nothing to do with the gameplay, but it lets me know more about them and gets me into their heads just a tiny bit more. It helps me connect with them better.

So Tracer/Lena having a significant other? Why can’t she? And why does it matter that it’s a girl? It’s helping me connect to her more by teaching me more about her. Maybe that additional fact doesn’t matter to some, but why does it bother people that it matters to others?

I’ve seen people call Tracer a “special snowflake” for being LGBT, and then I’ve seen people call that idea out asking why she’s being portrayed as something “special” that’s shoved in people’s faces. The real question: why are we considering being LGBT as “special” instead of normal? Being gay is normal. Tracer’s normal. Lena’s normal. There’s nothing groundbreaking in that – what’s groundbreaking is the inclusion. A game’s mascot is homosexual in some way and it’s not hidden, it’s openly available to see. Don’t you see how important that can be? How important it is? That’s pretty fantastic news, especially with how 2016 alone has treated the LGBT community.

And hey – let’s not ignore all the other amazing bits of information “Reflections” gave us! Reinhardt and all those children? Ana and Soldier 76? Pharah’s on a date?? With who?? McCree and Sombra at the bar? Are they familiar with each other? Who are the people Reaper is looking at? What do they mean to him? The letter Mercy has – was it from Genji? What does it say? What is Widowmaker thinking? Whose grave is that? What did Junkrat and Roadhog just do, and why? How did they meet? How did they get there? Is Hanzo’s cake a birthday cake? Something representing Genji? There’s a lot to take in and think about, not just Tracer even though she’s the main character in this comic short.

Overwatch Reflections: Tracer's Sexuality RevealDoes any of this change the game in any way? No. Does Tracer’s sexuality change the game? Nah. Does it change Tracer? Nope. It simply lets us know more about her while letting people like her have a character that can represent them in some way. She’s not just a video game character, none of them are. They’re characters in a vast world that Blizzard has created and is still creating, and I am highly appreciative of all the information they’ve given us so far. There’s still so much more to know, and so many more characters to build upon. It’s exciting! I want to know more about Emily – who is she? How did she and Lena meet? How much does she know about Overwatch? Does she know the other members? Does Overwatch put a strain on their relationship? Does that affect how Tracer fights? Are there conflicts because of it? Do you see the wheels in my head turning? I have so many questions!

What “Reflections” does do, is it certainly helps Overwatch be even more diverse and inclusive of characters, races, sexualities, etc. “The world could always use more heroes,” Tracer says in the cinematic trailer … and it’s clear that it doesn’t matter who you are, because it’s not that which makes you a hero.

TL;DR? I loved Tracer before and I still do; I’m glad Blizzard gave us this information and I don’t think it was “unnecessary;” and I’m happy for the inclusion she provides and how important it is especially since she’s the game’s mascot. YOU DO YOU, LENA.

Cheers, love. The cavalry is still here for you.

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