The Art of Overwatch

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After maintaining peace for many years, the international task force is needed again. The retired veterans of Overwatch need to reunite to bring peace once more…and the task force, consisting of international heroes, are called on to face the Omnic Crisis in Russia…

I know this sounds like a bunch of weird sci-fi stuff, but this is the premise to the 2016 Game of the Year, Overwatch (aka the best game ever). A 2017 count showed that Overwatch had 35 million players worldwide. Me and my roommates all play this game on one Xbox an absurd amount—and I mean absurd. Since buying the game 14 months ago, we have collectively put 745 hours into this game. A quick input into the trusty TI calculator and that comes out to 31 days. Yes, one whole month. A peak-of-the-knuckle month—that’s what I call art.

This video game blows other video games out of the water. Even without an adventurous campaign mode, this first- person shooter has still managed to create a lore just as captivating as its gameplay. With 26 playable heroes that exist on the same timeline, Blizzard has created a cinematic narrative through a series of shorts. The game is created around the narrative, and maps are specific to a hero or a set of heroes of the same short film.

Before I bore you with stupid game jargon, let me feed you the juicy stuff. This game may look like an animated children’s game, but the subtle details make it so much more. The playable heroes are as diverse as it gets, including Black heroes, White heroes, Asian heroes, Mexican heroes, a Russian hero, Egyptian heroes, and even Australian heroes. There’s even a gay hero, Tracer, who is the cover hero for the game. These heroes challenge social norms, especially the women. In fact, almost half the heroes are female. What makes it even more engaging is the character customization. Never mind how cool the game play is, each hero is equipped with a skin, a pose, a graffiti tag, and other customizable elements that show a bit of each player through their chosen hero.


Because each hero is different in their weapons and abilities, there are a dynamic range of mechanics. In general, they are classified by four types of characters: attack characters, whose abilities enable them to be the most efficient in dealing damage; my personal favorite is the rocket launching Egyptian police woman who can fly. One of my roommates likes to play a bounty hunter dressed as a life guard. I’ve never really thought of these as actual scenarios, but I wish I did.

I mean, look at him. Very cut and everything.

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The second class of characters are defense heroes, whose mobility is limited and are more suited for defense. Another one of my roommates plays just about the best cyborg bowman assassin that I’ve ever seen. The archer is dressed in traditional Japanese kabuki attire, and the attention to detail is just astounding.

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The next class of characters is the tank class, who all have the ability to take more damage. One of my favorite heroes to play with has actually become a gay icon in Russia. Zarya was a powerlifter before joining Overwatch. She is a model Russian, demonstrating a strong patriotism. Russian society experiences immense anti-gay sentiment, and a fictional character is the perfect escape from that. Russians have had mixed feelings about her, but many have also found solace in everybody’s favorite Russian powerlifter.


Last but definitely not least, we have the support heroes. These are the “medics” of your team. Each support hero has a different way of healing, but my favorite is the Brazilian DJ/freedom fighter, Lucio. He takes a bit of an edge of the game with his buoyant voice lines and hoppity style of play.

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The difference in mechanics makes for a very strategic game; an even amount of each kind of hero is needed for a well matched game. The strategy is almost like playing a basketball game. Every player has their role and succeeding in said roles helps your team win. The sense of collaboration and cooperation make are an important part of this game’s success. The variations in team composition dictate the style of play.

The possibilities for this game are endless. The Romans had this concept of religio—where the word religion comes from—which means to read over again and again. Many forms of art exhibit the same philosophy; it is made for the eye, and millions of people every day circulate through art museums to catch a glimpse of a timeless painting or sculpture. The unique creativity draws people back, time after time and that is what Overwatch is. Every day, me and my friends occupy the couches in our house and play Overwatch in a rotation. We play over and over again, through the frustrations and defeats. And that is what I call art.


JORDAN CHAN | Aspiring Professional E-Sports Player | KXSU Arts Reporter

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