Yea, I talk about Overwatch a lot. And, I’m going to again today.
I was thinking about the new hero announced, Orsia. Another robot added to the roster, for those of you who don’t play – the majority of the human’s were involved in a war against cybernetic beings called “The Omnic”. That’s all the backstory I’m going into (frankly, there isn’t much more). But they’ve done something, that I don’t quite know how to put my finger on it.
They engedered the robot. This is what she looks like:
Now, I don’t particularly care one way or another whether the voice is masculine or feminine sounding, but I find it particularly odd that they chose to give this bovine machine a gender.
Mostly because the contrasting robot is this:
And all it’s capable is beeps and boops and wooos.
I’ll say this: I have nothing but the utmost respect for Blizzard and their goal for equalising the male/female character ratio and their dedication to diversity. In fact, it’s one of my favourite things about the characters. It’s not just a selection of stereotypical videogame character tropes. I mean, of course there is a bit of that, but I feel like it’s more of a subtle nod or satirical punchline rather than sticking to the “norm”.
But is the ideology so locked in that even the robots have to fall within those lines? Is gender politics too entrenched in the minds of the developers. The fear that someone would consider Bastion to be “male” and, by that action, tip the scales in a way that may offend? My concern is that because art is a liberal medium (generally) that it tends to be too apologetic, too concerned with political correctness that things have to be a certain way or else there will be a falling out with a certain demographic.
And gender in gaming has been a hot button topic for some time know. I’ve seen petitions and criticism over games like GTA not including female protagonists. I do agree that there needs to be better representation of gender/ethnicity/etc in gaming. Especially in the area of not making all females sex objects. That being said – I wonder when I see things like this because I feel like people are taking that too far.
Of course, as I stated at the beginning – I think Overwatch has done a wonderful job in terms of representation – and I think the culture of developers is moving in that direction. Games like Mass Effect allowing the end user to decide sexual proclivity of their characters is fantastic. So I hope that when making decisions in terms of building a character, that the concern isn’t to meet standards or expectations. However, to make the best possible character in terms of the vision.
In this case – it almost would have been cooler/more fitting to have the robot be a little more animalistic – and given Blizzard’s experience with WoW – something closer to a Tauren is exactly what I’m picturing. Especially since the canon has a brilliant African 11 year old as the creator of Orisa. I think that part of the story fits the game perfectly.
Then again, in some ways I prefer the fact that the robot has some personality. Even if it feels a bit shoehorned in. Mostly because the idea of another robot that just makes a bunch of beeping and whirring sounds would probably make me want to pound my head against the wall. So, maybe this is a good thing. I would take a gendered robot over a Bastion clone any day of the week. Nothing more annoying than his sounds.
Maybe I’m just reading into this too much. Maybe they really just didn’t want another bland character who is incapable of actual speech. Who knows? I’m just another gamer with too much time on his hands. Let me know what you think in the comments below, or you can tweet to me or post on the Facebook group.
– The Ego