Fans Are Disappointed That Overwatch Still Doesn't Have A Black Woman Hero

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Vela

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Via Kotaku:

But once the excitement started to die down, the discussion shifted: Ashe is another skinny white woman, people pointed out, in a game that still doesn’t have even one black woman hero.

“On one hand, yay, new Overwatch hero! Looking forward to seeing what Ashe can do. On the other hand.... where is my black female hero, Blizzard????” wrote one fan on Twitter, echoing an almost endless avalanche of similar sentiments.

Those fans’ disappointment grew when Blizzard revealed in a subsequent BlizzCon panel that Ashe had darker skin in a very early design. They couldn’t help but see a pattern forming, noting that an early iteration of the character Mercy was also black.

There are also potential black heroes who’ve been on fans’ radars for years, but who’ve yet to make it into the game.
Overwatch now has 29 heroes, which include men and women from all sorts of backgrounds that aren’t often represented in big-budget video games. Doomfist is a Nigerian man, Pharah is an Egyptian woman, and Lucio is a Brazilian DJ. There are even black women in the game’s supporting cast, like Orisa’s creator, Efi Oladele. After all this time, though, black women are still conspicuously absent from the hero roster, even as the game faces criticism for a lack of variety in women heroes’ faces and body types.

While writing this story, I asked Kotaku’s Gita Jackson, who has also been looking into this issue, for her input. “Every time Blizzard has announced a new hero, there have been fans asking when there will be a black woman. There are so few playable black women in games in general that to be consistently overlooked by a development studio who explicitly wants Overwatch to feel diverse and international feels upsetting,” she said. “They made a hamster and a second cowboy before they made a black woman. It just feels like we’re not a priority, and while I can’t tell them what to do, I feel like they’re under-serving a part of their fanbase that clearly wants to throw money at them.”
And Jeff Kaplan's super bland PR response:

Jeff Kaplan told Kotaku at BlizzCon that Ashe as we now know her was born of timing and sudden inspiration, which played a role in her appearance. Originally, she was just a supporting character in “Reunion,” the new cinematic revealed during BlizzCon. It was conceived as a “McCree piece,” but the Overwatch team saw an early, pre-animation version of the video created by the cinematics team and were taken by Ashe’s look and personality—and also B.O.B. They decided that Ashe would be the next hero.

“We absolutely have intentions to make a really diverse cast,” said Blizzard senior software engineer Julie Anne Brame. “But again, this came from cinematics, and she was just so special out of that wonderful cinematic. And it wasn’t, like, out of all the things in the world to pick, we want to pick this particular character; it was ‘Wow, that’s a really special character that needs to come to life and really would contribute a lot to our universe.’ I think that’s what made Ashe stand out.”
https://kotaku.com/blizzard-explains-why-overwatch-still-doesnt-have-a-bla-1830241379

Of course, when Overwatch fans posted about this on the official forums, they got so much pushback that the mods had to close it.

BGG made a blog post prior to Kotaku covering the topic and hey have since received a ton of harassment and pushback. This is an important part of the article, because I could imagine people on Resetera will be saying the same thing:

What were people’s responses to the request? The common rebuttals both myself and the thread received are:
  1. Sombra is Afro-latina”
  2. Farah and Ana are Egyptian”
  3. Erm Orisa…duh!”
Let’s tackle them shall we?

Sombra is canonically Mexican, this has no bearing on her race as Mexican is not a race – it’s a nationality. However there have been no overt indicators towards Sombra being Afro-Mexican in her short or her story video. Let’s not conflate the term Afro-latina with meaning anyone with brown skin. Just as Sombra could be Afro-latina, she could also be Mixed or Mestiza.

The next response was that Ana and Farah were Egyptian and therefore Black. Firstly, it tickled me that now people want to say Egyptians were Black when, for years, the Black community has been screaming this from the roof tops to be met with white washing and obtuse reasons as to why Ancient Egyptians “just simply weren’t Black”. I digress, Ana and Farah are Egyptian and quite rightly could be Black however again I had to redirect people to the word unambiguous a term many people had trouble understanding.

“Unambiguously Black” simply means that by looking at a person there would be no question as to what race they are. Using racially ambiguous people as representatives for the whole of the Black race is a tired tactic used by media and brands. Just as there are 6 representations of white women in Overwatch in a variety of nationalities, shapes and sizes, there should be different representations of the Black women and other POC in game.
 

Chindogg

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Oct 25, 2017
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*sigh*

Overwatch has almost every possible nationality in the game so far. My guess is Orisa was supposed to fit that mold but they had to pull back on putting a kid in a robot that could get killed.

Give it time, it'll happen eventually. Hell, I'm amazed I actually got Irish representation.
 

Cokesouls

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Oct 28, 2017
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Overwatch has such a diverse cast of characters, like doesn't it have more females at this point?
I think it's just a matter of time.
 

Ethan Hutn

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Jan 20, 2018
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*sigh*

Overwatch has almost every possible nationality in the game so far. My guess is Orisa was supposed to fit that mold but they had to pull back on putting a kid in a robot that could get killed.

Give it time, it'll happen eventually. Hell, I'm amazed I actually got Irish representation.
.
 

Nimby

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Oct 27, 2017
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Talks about all the PoCs in Overwatch, doesn't mention Symmetra. Don't do my girl like that.

Anyway, a woman of African descent that is not an omnic would be a great and welcome addition. In concept art Ashe was black at one point, which I'm not sure what to think of that. I like her current design too.
 

Maximo

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Oct 25, 2017
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Overwatch has a fairly diverse background of characters however it would be awesome if they did have a black female hero, personally would love more diverse body types as most of the women are too similar.
 
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Chindogg

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Talks about all the PoCs in Overwatch, doesn't mention Symmetra. Don't do my girl like that.

Anyway, a woman of African descent that is not an omnic would be a great and welcome addition. In concept art Ashe was black at one point, which I'm not sure what to think of that. I like her current design too.
TIL Egypt wasn't in Africa.

Pharah and Ana are Muslim and are not black...

But also my bad for the sloppy mistake.
Black Muslims exist. It's not my place to argue what the exact definition of 'black' in regards to Egypt though.

Considering Ana and Phara don't count for reasons, I'm just wondering what would make for a black woman in the game other than some kind of Pam Grier inspiration that people will get upset about for being a stereotype.
 
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cwistofu

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User Banned (5 Day): Characterizing criticism as outrage; inflammatory drive-by post
I'm all for getting outraged at things, but holy hell, people.
 

Benita

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We're letting perfect be the enemy of good here.

Overwatch does a fantastic job in terms of representation. To a black woman I can understand why this would be upsetting, but I dont see why black + woman is more worthy of a place in the game than any of the myriad race/gender/sexuality combinations that aren't in the game either.
 

Gardog

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Apr 17, 2018
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I'm certain that it will happen. I hate overwatch as a game but they do fantastic with diversity/representation.
 

Nimby

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Muslim isn't a race.
I know Muslim/Islam isn't a race, the article talks about people using Ana and Pharah as examples for black people when they are not. Sorry for my misuse of terminology I'm unfortunately ignorant when it comes to correctly identifying ethnic groups in general.
 

infinite

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Oct 25, 2017
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We're letting perfect be the enemy of good here.

Overwatch does a fantastic job in terms of representation. To a black woman I can understand why this would be upsetting, but I dont see why black + woman is more worthy of a place in the game than any of the myriad race/gender/sexuality combinations that aren't in the game either.
I would like to see a Black Woman character playable in the game. What's wrong in asking for that to happen in being disappointed that it hasn't happened yet?
 

Benita

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I would like to see a Black Woman character playable in the game. What's wrong in asking for that to happen in being disappointed that it hasn't happened yet?
Theres nothing wrong with asking for it but I dont believe it's a reasonable criticism of the game or Blizzard.
 

Cap G

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Oct 27, 2017
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Orisa is very clearly coded as a black woman, just as the other omnics are coded as various nationalities and ethnicities. I think it's a stretch to say that she isn't. That doesn't mean that Overwatch can't have two black women characters, but I would consider Orisa the first.
 

Derpot

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Nov 18, 2017
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You know, if they wanted to add another American character, why didn't they choose to add a Native American?
That would be more cool and interesting. Native American people don't have enough representation in video games.
 

Budi

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Oct 25, 2017
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*sigh*

Overwatch has almost every possible nationality in the game so far.
It's diverse for sure. But that is bit of an overstatement.
You know, if they wanted to add another American character, why didn't they choose to add a Native American?
That would be more cool and interesting. Native American people don't have enough representation in video games.
Would be cool too at some point. I do think that diversity and representation is definitely something they keep in mind.
I can't believe I said females... I'm so sorry.
I'm hazy in the morning and got blood withdrawn from me.
Don't sweat it, you were clearly referring to characters not people.
 
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MrH

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Nov 3, 2017
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Overwatch has considerably more diversity than most games, this isn't the game to be disappointed with.
 

Almeister

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Oct 25, 2017
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Orisa is very clearly coded as a black woman, just as the other omnics are coded as various nationalities and ethnicities. I think it's a stretch to say that she isn't. That doesn't mean that Overwatch can't have two black women characters, but I would consider Orisa the first.
Orisa is an African-made robot, not a black woman.
 

Arsenekinz

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Oct 25, 2017
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I just want more LGBT characters and cute boys I can ship religiously.

It annoys me to no end that they’ve said multiple heroes are LGBT but still hold off on saying which ones.

Mchanzo + Genyatta 4 lyfe
 

Chindogg

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Oct 25, 2017
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You know, if they wanted to add another American character, why didn't they choose to add a Native American?
That would be more cool and interesting. Native American people don't have enough representation in video games.
I believe that's Phara's father, who's Canadian.

I just want more LGBT characters and cute boys I can ship religiously.

It annoys me to no end that they’ve said multiple heroes are LGBT but still hold off on saying which ones.
There's a reason for that.
 

pikachief

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Oct 25, 2017
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Overwatch has considerably more diversity than most games, this isn't the game to be disappointed with.
A game thats so diverse should at least have 1 black female human shouldnt it? Especially a game that pretty much takes pride in how it spans different (futuristic) cultures and diversity in cast.
 

Hollywood Pescado

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Like others have said, Overwatch has a lot of diversity. More than most games I'd say.

It's simply impossible to make everyone happy. People need to realize this.

There are also other races and ethnicities that aren't represented in Overwatch, but you don't see them complaining.

In fact, there are a lot of races and ethnicities not represented in games at all.

It is unrealistic to expect Blizzard to add every single race and ethnicity in the game. Blizzard has done a good job with its diverse cast of heroes.
 

infinite

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Oct 25, 2017
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Like others have said, Overwatch has a lot of diversity. More than most games I'd say.

It's simply impossible to make everyone happy. People need to realize this.

There are also other races and ethnicities that aren't represented in Overwatch, but you don't see them complaining.

In fact, there are a lot of races and ethnicities not represented in games at all.

It is unrealistic to expect Blizzard to add every single race and ethnicity in the game. Blizzard has done a good job with its diverse cast of heroes.
If people want something in a game why are you adverse to them asking for it? Also the people cited in OP aren't asking that Blizzard add every race and ethnicity that exists on planet earth to the game. They are simply asking for a Black Woman character. I don't understand this line of argument. It's no necessary for these things to be pointed out against what people are actually asking for
 
Oct 29, 2017
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Lol a second cowboy n a fucking hamster got in b4 a black woman.

Nah better to add another skinny white woman that’s what the game is lacking.
 

ThreepQuest64

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Oct 29, 2017
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Wasn't this "outrage" just a bunch of posts on tumblr lol?
And they (or some people) will always find things to complain or being disappointed about. No matter what you do, some people just want that.

Okay, as a fact, it's true, no black woman. Is it bad? Is it something to be disappointed baout? With this diverse cast I don't think so, or at least I wouldn't be. There are so many nations and ethnic backgrounds representated that I wouldn't be disappointed. It's more like, "hey, you know what character they could add in future? A black woman, maybe someone like Domino from Deadpool 2, would be awesome – badass, charming, gets the job done, and maybe some crazy luck-skills."
 

Puru

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Oct 28, 2017
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I'm confused. Isn't symettra black? Long time i didn't touch that game though but even the art make it look that way.
 

Hero

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Oct 25, 2017
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I can definitely see where people are coming from but theres still a lot left and they only come out with so many characters. Overwatch probably does the best job for diversity and inclusion. I'm not trying to make excuses or tell people how they should or shouldn't feel. I hope we get one, and then I'm personally really hoping we get a Greek character.
 
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Derpot

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Nov 18, 2017
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Overwatch roster must be one of the most diverse in video games, but they can do better.

(Tbh, when I saw Ashe for the first time, I thought she was another Widowmaker alt skin lmao)
 

daxy

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Oct 25, 2017
6,719
Like others have said, Overwatch has a lot of diversity. More than most games I'd say.

It's simply impossible to make everyone happy. People need to realize this.

There are also other races and ethnicities that aren't represented in Overwatch, but you don't see them complaining.

In fact, there are a lot of races and ethnicities not represented in games at all.

It is unrealistic to expect Blizzard to add every single race and ethnicity in the game. Blizzard has done a good job with its diverse cast of heroes.
While this is all true, black people make up a huge part of the world population. It's not like some a super niche group.
 

infinite

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Okay, as a fact, it's true, no black woman. Is it bad? Is it something to be disappointed baout? With this diverse cast I don't think so, or at least I wouldn't be.
If you actually wanted a Black Woman character in the game then yes an obvious lack of Black Women in said game would be disappointing regardless of the game's diverse cast already.
 
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