When the folks behind Overwatch decided it was time to mention Tracer’s sexual orientation, director Jeff Kaplan knew they had to do it carefully. Kaplan sat down on camera with PCGamesN to talk about how Blizzard Entertainment handled the first story featuring Tracer and her girlfriend as sensitively as possible.
“We were worried, I’d say, for a number of reasons” about the Overwatch community’s reaction to Tracer being gay prior to the reveal, Kaplan said around the 28-minute mark.
Players lashing out because Tracer wasn’t straight as they may have imagined was one of those reasons, which some definitely did. But Overwatch’s international popularity meant Blizzard had to consider whether the comic would alienate those from less progressive nations.
“We’e a very global game ... there are certain countries where it’s very challenging to talk about that sort of thing, up to and including legal ramifications,” Kaplan said.
What he’s talking about here is Russia’s persecution of those in homosexual relationships, a law that kept Blizzard from releasing the comic about Tracer’s orientation to Russian readers. Trying to view it in that territory prompted a notice that it had been blocked due to content issues.
Kaplan said that this was on the team’s mind, but more important than anything else was ensuring that Tracer’s relationship was handled realistically and appropriately.
“We were more worried about making sure that if we were gonna tell that story, that we were gonna do it in a very non-pandering, natural way,” he explained adding that Tracer is “the only one who her story directly tied into who her significant other was, and we really wanted to stick to that where it was important to us that we’re not just checking a checkbox on a list here.
“This is about representing a person, who they are and what’s natural and normal to them, so we wanted to very much come off in a very non-pandering way,” Kaplan said.
The reaction to the lighthearted story about Tracer and her girlfriend Emily’s Christmas plans was warm, for the most part. Fans loved the glimpse into her personal life, as well as those of other key Overwatch characters.
We haven’t seen much more of Emily since then, nor have we gotten other stories delving into anyone’s backstories. It’s nice to know that Kaplan and crew are dedicated to representing them in the most thoughtful way possible whenever it is time to look at what the cast is up to behind the scenes.