Overwatch’s Solider 76 was confirmed as gay with the release of the series’ newest short story, Bastet and people are excited. Representation matters and always of some significance when a character in a hugely popular series is confirmed to be Queer. But I feel like much of the conversation in the last 24 hours is lacking a certain amount of perspective.
What bothers me here is the overvaluing of what was actually done. Though Solider’s sexuality was, supposedly, decided before the game was even released, the information was held back until just now.
There was nothing at stake when Bastet was released. It’s a few years into Overwatch’s run, the active playerbase is 40 million players strong, ultimately, adding this fun fact to Solider 76’s lore from a non-game source isn’t going to scare players off.
At least not enough to be significant. But it will reinvigorate some of the game’s LGBTQ fans. It’s hard for me to look at this as anything beyond a move to create buzz about Overwatch between substantive announcements.
Now, full disclosure, I don’t actually care. It’s a cute little fun fact and it means something to some of the fans. And that’s fine. It’s actually good.
But we need temper our reactions. I’ve seen Activison Blizzard garner a great deal of approval for Bastet. People have even gone as far as to say AB is an ally. There are a couple problems with this. Number one, corporations aren’t allies to anyone but their shareholders. Number two, the timing of this confirmation is such that there is virtually no risk for Overwatch as a series.
And without taking on personal risk, allyship is just not possible. It feels as though this is one of the many times people have been too quick to hand out cookies to entities doing nothing of any lasting value. Corporations are not your friend and AB didn’t release Bastet to support the LGBTQ community. We can appreciate what was done without overstating its significance.