Overwatch currently has 31 playable characters. One of them is a gorilla from the moon. Another is a hamster in a fur ball. None of them are black women. This has led to a series of increasingly annoyed requests from fans over the years, largely. Now, finally, Blizzard confirmed the existence of the existence of the upcoming hero of the black woman: Sojourn. But it does not join the list as Overwatch 2 plays without a release date.
Big budget video games do not include many black women who can play. But Overwatch at the very least, suggests taking care of inclusion, so for many players it's disconcerting to see many genetically engineered animals and old whites make the cut in front of a black woman. Sojourn, a former member of the Overwatch heroic organization who is ready to make a comeback, will finally change that. In BlizzCon, she appears in a trailer and is officially confirmed as an upcoming character. But why now? Or really, why when Overwatch 2 finally came out? Why an entirely new game? Why not earlier? Overwatch director Jeff Kaplan said this was because Sojourn had become a major part of the show's history.
"We thought of Sojourn before he even started the original Overwatch game," Kaplan Kotaku told BlizzCon over the weekend. "She immediately became a very important character for us, and as we were developing the idea of Overwatch 2 she somehow started to move towards the center of the story. It is coming to the surface now. You saw it in [the recent PVE event] The Storm Rising. She was the commander sending troops to Havana on this mission. We've always had a storyline for her and have been working on Overwatch 2 for many years. "
As Kaplan points out, Sojourn breaks into the skeleton of Overwatch for years. Many fans first notice her in the Recall 2016 animated short animated film in which Winston uses an AI-powered computer to send a desperate conversation to overzealous Overwatch members. Sojourn was one of those characters.
Since then, fans have been waiting in frustration for her arrival. Some have even sent letters to Kaplan, who in one case in 2017 wrote in a heartfelt reply in which he said that "the most important thing for me is the people who are in a position to influence and reflect society start presenting completely normal things as normal ”and promised that more black characters are in the pipeline. During our interview with BlizzCon, Kaplan explained that Sojourn's slow launch is part of a bigger plan. He intends to stick to this plan, regardless of how many players have expressed their displeasure.
"I personally feel like the right thing to do with a character is still it conveys this story, not just hurrying it, because the community is upset with us, "Kaplan said. "I tend to find that there is always a community upset about us. I mentioned it before, but the real value of being involved Overwatch is the idea that we are open, that we want everyone to feel welcome in the universe, and the result is diversity. I would hate diversity to ever sink, as we just had this spreadsheet with a bunch of bookmarks. Because it is a ridiculous notion to think that we will ever be able to represent all the people on the planet. "
But still, it's one thing to be honest about thinking about a marginalized audience hoping to get dollars out of your portfolios, it's another thing to start a game for three and a half years, add multiple characters to it, and you can't present a large segment of the population that has requested to be included countless times just to be sent to the back of the line. One character in a list of 31 (and counts) is not a close. This is the absolute minimum of performance.
On top of that, the Overwatch team has exploded in the past in terms of times when they were excited about a new idea or design for the character and that character crossed the line and quickly entered the game. But Kaplan said such an approach would simply not work with Sojourn. He uses the newest character of the game, Sigma, to contrast. He said Sigma was "not at the center of our story" and was more responsive to the question, "What is the great gameplay that currently responds to cool characters?" This, Kaplan said, made Sigma's story more "manageable."
"We would literally have to rework the entire storyline of Overwatch 2 if we just removed Sojourn and followed it up somehow," he said.
For now, Kaplan just wants fans to know that he thinks Sojourn will be worth the wait.
"Although I know that this is a really important problem for many people, they need to know that Sojourn is amazing and we would rather do the right thing – treat her as a real human being – rather than simply you're hurling her out, "he said. "And I think the fact that it will be at the heart of Overwatch 2 will be really significant to a lot of our fans."