During a keynote presentation today at D.I.C.E. Summit, Overwatch game director Jeff Kaplan offered gamers a glimpse into his team’s approach to developing the popular shooter. One area he touched on in particular was Overwatch’s inclusion of diverse characters.
Kaplan revealed that the team’s focus during development was less on hitting a diversity standard and more about making the game inclusive for anyone who wanted to play. The end result, as he revealed, was a game universe that felt like home to gamers, regardless of their land of origin. Kaplan said:
“I think it’s really interesting that people think that diversity was the goal of the Overwatch team, when it was not. What we cared about was creating a game, and a game universe, and a world where everyone felt welcome. Really what the goal was, was inclusivity and open mindedness.”
As Kaplan put it, even though the Overwatch lineup of characters doesn’t include heroes from every possible location, the variety helps gamers feel included. Kaplan said:
“We wanted there to be this feeling — and I’ve talked to a lot of people about this and I think they’ve agreed with it – when I say you might be from somewhere that we haven’t represented yet in Overwatch, but you could imagine there being an Overwatch hero or an Overwatch map from your area. And it seems totally plausible, like it seems like at any time I could be represented in the game. I think diversity is a beautiful end result that you get when you embrace inclusivity and open mindedness.”
What makes Overwatch special when compared to other games from Blizzard is that the game is set on Earth. Where other titles, such as Warcraft, StarCraft, and Diablo are all set in alternative universes, where creatures and aliens abound, Overwatch represents real humans of many nationalities.
With the success Overwatch has experienced the last year, there’s little doubt Blizzard will continue to release new heroes for the shooter, and add to the diversity already present. Additionally, with events that celebrate worldwide events of different cultures, the game is creating a standard of inclusivity that few other games have achieved.
In his keynote speech, Kaplan also touched on the topic of sexuality, talking openly about the team’s decision to reveal Tracer’s sexuality in the Overwatch comic book, Reflections. Kaplan said:
“Reflections happened to reveal that Tracer had a girlfriend at home, not a boyfriend like some people expected. And this is all part of what we on the Overwatch team think of as: normal things are normal. It’s important to show normal things as normal, so they become more normal.”
Kaplan went on to share how many gamers expected other characters to represent the LGBT community, but that the team is proud of her position. In fact, Kaplan continued by revealing how proud he is that while other shooter game covers show grizzled male soldiers, Overwatch has a badass female LGBT character.
There’s little doubt Kaplan and his team will continue to represent the nations and people of the world via Overwatch, and that the diversity and inclusion already present will only deepen.
What do you think about Kaplan’s comments about Overwatch’s diversity and inclusivity?
Overwatch is available now on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.