Many Overwatch heroes' histories and identities have been fleshed out through comics, like Tracer's sexuality in the "Reflections" comic and Bastion and Torbjorn's unlikely friendship in the just-released "Binary" edition. And recently, Overwatch game director Jeff Kaplan confirmed an integral part of another hero's identity. In response to a fan message, Kaplan confirmed that Symmetra has autism.
One Overwatch enthusiast wrote the Blizzard executive a letter, mentioning how they bonded with their brother over the high-energy team-based shooter title and giving reference to one particular issue of the game's comic series. Shortly after, it seems, Kaplan responded personally. The news first broke on an Overwatch game forum, and a copy of Kaplan's response was posted to a Tumblr user's blog. It reads:
I am so glad Overwatch is providing a great way for you and your brother to bond! Nothing warms our hearts more than hearing stories like yours.
I’m glad you asked about Symmetra. It was very astute of you to notice that she mentioned the spectrum in our comic. Symmetra is autistic. She is one of our most beloved heroes and we think she does a great job of representing just how awesome someone with autism can be.
Thank you so much for taking the time to write to me. I really enjoyed your letter and will share it with the rest of the team. Wishing you and your brother many fun games over Overwatch!
All the best,
(signed) Jeff KaplanGame Director, Overwatch”
Also included with the response letter was a set of four Overwatch-themed magnets, which Samuel mentioned was an appreciated gesture: "[Kaplan] also sent me magnets and made me feel special."
Kaplan's letter confirming that Symmetra sits on the autism spectrum also gives a direct answer to those fans wondering what her reference to "the spectrum" exactly meant in her individual comic issue, "A Better World." Symmetra's personal comic, written by Andrew Robinson with art by Jeffrey "Chamba" Cruz, centered around Rio de Janeiro post-Omnic Crisis and the Vishkar Corporation's efforts to reinforce and rebuild sections of the city.
In the midst of her hard work attempting to secure Rio de Janeiro, Symmetra must locate a contract once held by Vishkar Corporation, and she has a moment of self-reflection before she carries out her mission: "Sanjay [Korpal, an agent of Vishkar and a coworker] has always said I was... different. Everyone has. Asking where I fit on the spectrum."
A number of fans speculated that this meant Symmetra is on the autism spectrum. One player, Matt Buchholtz, reached out to "A Better World" writer Andrew Robinson to congratulate him on writing a comic that featured discussion on Autism Spectrum Disorder. "Wasn't expecting to read something on ASD [Autism Spectrum Disorder]," he tweeted to Robinson. "Really well done." Robinson responded, saying that it "was a privilege" to write.
Until now, no explicit confirmation had been given on Symmetra being autistic. Confirming that she does indeed fit on the spectrum is another step in the direction of diversity for Blizzard and the Overwatch team, as the game has often been praised for its inclusion of LGBTQ+ individuals, like Tracer, and characters of various ethnic and racial backgrounds. Similarly, Kaplan reaching out to a fan personally to solidify the speculation is undoubtedly a wonderful thing to do.
All in all, this new information regarding one of the game's most beloved heroes, not only offers additional insight into Symmetra, but it also shows how dedicated the Overwatch team is to its fans and to presenting characters with whom many players can connect.
Overwatch is available now for PC, PS4, and Xbox One.