Stop Turning Overwatch Characters Into Cops

Overwatch, the gargantuan shooter that currently helms Blizzard’s competitive scene as well as captures the hearts of a massive fanbase eager to glean narrative content from a game that steadfastly refuses to give them more than the occasional morsel, has released details on the upcoming yearly Anniversary event.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/ywynww/stop-turning-overwatch-characters-into-cops
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Aren’t overwatch already cops

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Who watches over the Overwatch?

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So, Blizzard made a thoughtless Overwatch skin… again.

I think that’s just their MO at this point.

An independent panel coincidentally made entirely of ex-Overwatch members which has curiously never found any Overwatch members guilty of the allegations made against then

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I’m pretty sure that Overwatch is a paramilitary organization. The only reason this is forgotten is due tot he characters’ cheery nature and cartoony animation.

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Tracers warp technology was developed to help her dash away from war crimes in such time so she couldn’t possibly be guilty of it if she was in X City at Y OClock

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There’s an inherent discomfort to the in-universe idea of a private military organization that’s almost entirely framed as a positive force for the world, and was only brought down because of the archetypal Blizzard Corruption™ plot via the mustache-twirling evil organizations.

But you wouldn’t expect to see Reaper outright wearing a Blackwater outfit, or for Soldier 76’s camo skin to have a US Army logo emblazoned on it. Those characters are already shorthand for both of those real-life organizations, but not so blatantly as the police skins, which are just whole-ass cop outfits with no shorthand or ambiguity.

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They’re military even without a logo! I mean his name is Soldier 76 (yes I understand this is a codename or something).

I don’t quite understand why in one scenario there’s a justification for applying real-world descriptors and in the other one there’s not. I guess public opinion favours “the troops” over the cops these days, but it’s not like either is wholly innocent.

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I think we can all agree, if you think about the premise of Overwatch too long, your brain will turn to jelly

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Seeing as how Overwatch is an international organization, and the cop uniforms are framed within international representations, is it a fair question to ask, “Well, our perspective of American cops is not the same of say… South Korean police.”

I feel like, yes, there are classist structures at play that will always inform how the people see the police who police them, but we have a very specific American view of the police as a more tyrannical organization, and that other countries may see their police forces as something more beneficial. I’m not sure about it, but I feel like Japanese culture has a very strong appreciation to social work and the work that goes into making their society move and function. Are we out of place to challenge that?

Then again, Blizzard is an American company that have their international characters speaking American-Candace English with exaggerated accents, so perhaps that critique is fair.

In all, I stand with Kojima in saying that Overwatch is already the cops. But international perspectives to their policing is a fair thought to bring to mind, instead of a strict American perspective.

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oh my god, Tracer is a cop, isn’t she?

i want to cry now…

If you do your homework, no. There are a lot of fine cultural differences, but you would be amazed how much overlap there is around the world when it comes to authoritarian ideology and the tools that values.

Japan, in particular, is currently dealing with a growing extreme right (that does include actual literal nazis, yes really) that wants to bring back their military power while trying to squash down on queer minorities and immigrants. Sounds familiar, right? There are significant differences between the Japanese right and US right, but they cross pollinate at this point, or simply use each other for their own ends.

Police culture in Japan is different, but many of the broad strokes are still all too depressingly familiar. Same for the rest of the world. Mix in the military and we start getting into there’s gonna be a land war in Asia within our lifetime territory.

This Overwatch case is amusing, though, because a Swedish person I follow on twitter pointed out that’s not even what Swedish officers dress in.

EDIT: Made a slight mistake, corrected

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Let’s just say that Tracer did some things over in 'Nam that read as [REDACTED] today

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Is shorthand or ambiguity better? Creating two cop skins just sounds like saying the quiet part loud.

Overwatch has always seemed like the kind of media product for which most of the fan goodwill is a product of the fans’ imaginations. Any time the developers move forward with some decision that clashes with how the fans imagine the characters to be, or reneges on something they alluded to but never cemented, it creates dissonance between what the fans want these characters and this world to be like, and what it canonically is.

Like many have said, these characters are already effectively ‘cops’. Does making two cop skins really change that? I think people just don’t typically think of them as cops because they don’t ever appear to interface with a civilian populous; all of their conflict appears to happen directly between each other or the baddies themselves.

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she also did brexit, it’s canon

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Sure, there definitely is political underpinnings within Japanese culture, and I’m sure that right wing extremism in the country has done a lot to skew perceptions of the police.

But I guess I’m thinking more of how the police in America is associated with the gun. American policing is presented as more as a gamble with your life here, where a wrong move, the wrong word, or the wrong skin tone can end your life because our gun culture and drug culture has created a violent police culture to respond to it. I feel the antagonism for the American institutions of police are completely justified framed within the history of the atrocities they have participated in.

But the fact of the matter is, the police in Japan don’t carry guns. A lot of cops in other countries do not carry guns. They take away that force amplifier, and in a way, I can see how a culture doesn’t feel as antagonistic to that institution because the police in their view is not a gamble with your life, but rather a reaction to your dissatisfaction. Despite the politics of these nations, I feel like there is still a respect given to police as civil servants, as institutions that they are SUPPOSED to be.

The imagery of riot police is disturbing, but I often wonder how police should respond to rioting within these spaces? The police are supposed to quell unrest no matter the politics of the government that is being opposed, so is that image of the police forever tarnished? I feel like saying, “Let the rioters riot.” Goes down a path of Libertarianism, which I don’t like. I guess it comes down to the fact that the image of the riot cop has been adapted from American responses to our riots. Other countries learn our response, and then apply that to their own unrest.

Mind you, I’m not speculating on the morality of the rioters or the politics of the hypothetical rioters. I’m just saying that do you all think riot police is an element of the institution that has no value?

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People do not just riot for no good reason. Riot cops exist to shield oppressors from the justice they actually deserve.

ACAB.

Not looking forward to the Overwatch Archives about Soldier 76 putting down a worker revolt.

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I’m just saying that do you all think riot police is an element of the institution that has no value?

I think the institution itself and all it upholds, needs to go, so yes. And I don’t particularly care about how the police, over the last roughly 70 years, built a better image for itself in certain places around the world, because its role in society hasn’t changed one bit. Doesn’t matter if they have become much smarter in how they go about (for example: not immediately beating/shooting down striking workers, but trust me, they will if the situation demands it)

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Nope. If you ask me, there’s functionality no difference in that both examples are trying to romanticize fascist constructs. There’s a plausible deniability to military aesthetics though, since the actual injustices of US and private militias are perceived as more remote versus the domestic atrocities that the police regularly commit.

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