In Fandom, Sombra Is Overwatch’s New Gay Explosion

In Fandom, Sombra Is Overwatch’s New Gay Explosion

After a long, tedious ARG, Sombra is finally in the wild. For some, the biggest question about Sombra is how she’ll change up Overwatch’s competitive play. For others, it’s “who is she gonna kiss?”

After Sombra was officially announced at Blizzcon, many shippers eagerly hooked her up with D.Va, the 19 year-old professional gamer. The ship, known as Somva, makes sense. Sombra and D.Va have a lot in common. Both are steeped in nerdy tropes — Sombra’s gun has Wi-Fi — but there soon emerged a big problem. Sombra’s 30.

While there are still diehard Somva shippers out there and the ship still dominates on fanfiction website Archive of our Own, a portion of the fandom was turned off by the 11 year age gap. Not to be discouraged, two other ships soon emerged: Symbra and Sombarya.

Symbra, the pairing of Symmetra and Sombra, has a lot going for it (it’s my personal fave). It’s fun to watch the more serious Symmetra play off the goofy Sombra. These are tried and true romance tropes, the kind of contrast you see in older ships like Mulder and Scully or even Kirk and Spock. It’s a dynamic already familiar in Overwatch shipping in the McHanzo pairing of McCree and Hanzo.

But Symbra also has a special significance for people steeped in Overwatch’s sparse narrative. Symmetra has long been portrayed as being manipulated by her own company, Vishkar, and Sombra’s mission is to take out Lumerico, a Vishkar partner. As Symmetra wrenches free from Vishkar’s control, who knows what kind of sassy, nose-booping hacker she’ll fall for? Besides, the idea of two women of colour conspiring together to take down huge corporations is fanfic gold.

Sombarya, the pairing of Sombra and Zarya, also has roots in shadowy corporate dealings. In Sombra’s announcement cinematic, Sombra blackmails the Volskaya company, which just so happens to be Zarya’s employer.

It’s hard to resist the idea of a Zarya that’s tasked to hunt down Sombra falling for their target, and the ship also has the appeal of two women taking down The Man, given that Volskaya is portrayed as corrupt in the short. But it also speaks to a very basic fanfiction trope: Their physicality. For some shippers, it’s enough that one of them is large and butch, while the other is spritely and small.

It’s early days for Sombra yet; her place in the world of Overwatch shipping hasn’t yet settled into a widely accepted ship, like McHanzo, Widowtracer or Pharmercy. This is the funnest part of new ships — when things are still growing and developing. Things may change as time goes on, but for now Sombra is, in the words of one fan, Overwatch’s new “gay disaster”.


  • I’m sorry, but when does Tumblr represent “the fandom”? I’m a huge Overwatch fan and enjoy the OFFICIAL lore of the game. Tumblr does not represent me or any other fandoms in this or any other medium.

    Tumblr is the Moss Isly of the Internet. It’s full of gay shippers and political extremists pushing their “headcanon” as fact because they are afraid and wouldn’t last 2 minutes in the real world.

    Kotaku, please stop using places like Twitter or Tumblr as your source for what “the fandom” wants.

    • While I agree that Tumblr isn’t representative of an entire community, your views on it are quite entertaining.

      Let me guess, you hate how it’s full of SJWs? They’re ruining gaming, don’t you know?

      • It’s not full of SJWs. Just more along the lines of lonely sheltered people disenfranchised with reality of a world that their Gender Studies teachers didn’t want them to be a part of. Kinda like how “nerd” was code for lonely basement dweller, Tumblr is code for mentally disturbed head canon as reality, anti-straight, anti-white groupthinkers.

    • Aww relax dude, it’s just a bunch of people having fun. You’re right in that they aren’t “The” fandom, but they are a part of it.

    • These days it feels more like “fandom” is a term for those specific tumblr-esque fans that go nuts over that kind of thing. As opposed to just regular fans I guess 😛

      • New IP? Characters not having sex with everything? Why not try the new Tumblr Fandom kit! Just listen to our satisfied clientelle!

        “I used to play a game for its gameplay and story, but with the new Tumblr Fandom kit, I’ve turned every character in a two-dimentional pansexual joke” – Mrs. Mister.

        “I wrote Harry Potter slash back in 1997, which makes me an ancient Myspace pervert. To be honest, I had my doubts about the Tumblr Fandom kit, but I simply couldn’t believe how easy and simple it was to turn guy-with-a-gun into guy-with-gun-inside-bum. Truly, this is a product that’s made everyone in my share house happy” – Tears_Of_Blood666

  • Speaker: “The fellowship of Overwatch fan artists is now in session. First order of business – the official fan “spin” on the new Sombra character.
    Senator Dankmeme: “I move that we make her gay, as convention dictates.”
    Speaker: “While the senator makes a valid and reasonable point, I would raise the possibility that some variety in these character treatments may be of value…”
    All: “Gay! Gay! Gay!”
    Speaker: “”Gay” hereby passes as the accepted and official fan treatment of Sombra by overwhelming majority.

  • When has Symmetra been portrayed as being manipulated by Vishkar? Her goals seem to be aligned with theirs.

    Or is this another fandom thing?

  • You think a comparatively small age-gap is going to stop shippers?

    Oh, my sweet Summer child…

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