Overwatch Has Had A Black Female Character 'In Development' For Four Years

During a livestream, Overwatch game director Jeff Kaplan revealed that the team has actually had a black female character that’s been part of the game’s lore since around 2014. Fans are wondering why she still isn’t playable.

Yesterday, Overwatch streamer Fareeha held a stream at Blizzard HQ, during which Kaplan dropped in. During the stream, he explained some of the characters’ origins. You can watch that part of the stream below at about an hour and ten minutes in.

“[We had] the concept for Hammond before Overwatch was even released,” he said, explaining how long ago the Overwatch team had come up with the hamster hero. “Sojourn’s a good example. We started development for her in 2015, it might have been 2014.”

Who is Sojourn? She’s a black female character who, so far, has only appeared in comics and animations. Most notably, she’s present in the very first Overwatch short: “Recall,” starring Winston. You can see her if you freeze frame at eight minutes and one second.

A black woman with cybernetic implants of some kind, possibly named after abolitionist Sojourner Truth? Sign me the fuck up. Unfortunately, it’s not clear if or when she’s ever going to be playable, and in the stream, Jeff Kaplan said, “Sojourn is not the next hero.”

Some fans have been asking for a playable black female character since the game came out, and to hear that one has been the works for even longer has left them both heartened and disappointed.

Some fans have been assuming that Sojourn will eventually be playable, even if it’s not going to happen right away. “On one hand, I’m elated to know Sojourn will be a hero,” one fan wrote on Twitter. “On the other, it took way too long to get there, and it feels like our concerns weren’t being addressed in favour of ‘rule of cool.’”

Another put it more succinctly on Tumblr:

https://novarebel.tumblr.com/post/184238636441

I don’t feel like we need to rely on major corporations for our visions of diversity and inclusion, but if that is a priority, as Kaplan has indicated it is for Overwatch, you gotta put your money where your mouth is. It’s disappointing to know that a black female character has been in the works since before the game came out, but she still isn’t in the game.


Comments

    I'm hesitant to reply to these types of articles... but Symmetra? Am i missing something here?

      Important caveat being that i've never actually played Overwatch.

        Indian.

        But the article is daft.

        Who cares if the character isn't fun, balanced or well designed? It should be top priority to tick off the diversity checklist.

        Of all the companies to whinge about regarding inclusivity, Gita chooses Blizzard.
        SMH.

          She always complains about diversity. Even when there's almost equal representation of sexes.

          There's always going to be too many white straight people.

            you mean her articles seem more like activism than journalism.

            still i give her a pass considering Kotaku also has Nathan who is much worse, and there is also shit like vox and huffpo etc so comparatively speaking she's pretty good.

          But that's not what the article is saying. She's not talking about top priority nor even wondering why there's no black female character. There's no "whinging". She's reporting that a black female character has been in the works for years and then ends with some opinions from the public, including one expressing disappointment.

    Probably waiting for a senior staff member to be accused of sexual assault to roll out another distracting woke character.

    The issue with having such detailed character backgrounds that include parentage and country of origin... the race and gender of the character is not interchangeable.

    Very few companies put as much work into diversity of characters as Blizzard do, and most new characters that come in are not out about trying to make their diversity needs meet but the devs either trying to predict which character they will launch will break X type of reinforced meta. So maybe it is less about not being interested in releasing a black woman, when maybe the character she is not doesnt have a place in the game yet for game play reasons.

      @chinesefood

      you guys probably know more about Overwatch than i do but i would have thought given the pressure associated with introducing a black female hero, and the fact that it has only intensified over the years. Wouldn't the problem stem from the expectations people have, they can't release her if she's overpowered and ruins the meta but they also can't have her be underpowered because then they will get roasted because she is unplayable.

      They have to goldylocks this shit and that is pretty much impossible since you can't really control the meta, it is organic and created by the players at least that is what i understand from other games i'm not very familiar with Overwatch.

      maybe i'm wrong blakeavon seems to be saying the devs target the meta with each release to break it open?

        yeah while metas tend to happen organically, in the sense that players normally just follow the direction of the wind, there normally isnt a plan to 'make' a meta, they just happen.

        In Overwatch most of the new characters have been about reacting to something, Sombra came in with an attempt to stop Tracer and Genji, Brigette came in to stop dive, Moria in response to a need for another main healer, Baptise to help stop goats.

        So unlike other games like say Destiny and Division, in which it is about nerfing the overpowered weapons and skills, maybe boosting some stuff, Overwatch does this on a small level but they also pick new characters, for better or worse,to shake things up. Knowing full well as soon as new person is launched, everyone will always fight to play them, and because they do that, those new characters suddenly and drastically change the game.

          ah so Overwatch is a bit different to other games, okay i see what your saying.

          The time to release this character would be when she can have the most impact so it's almost like there are prerequisite conditions that need to exist, makes sense then that they can have her for years but not implement her yet.

          you learn something new everyday.... and thanks to you now i can turn off my brain until tomorrow =P

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