New Overwatch hero is promising for transgender representation in gaming

The logo for popular videogame Overwatch, but it's in the non-binary flag colors (White, yellow, purple, and black) overlaid on a beige background

Jose Gonzalez-Campelo/The Cougar

Since its release, Overwatch, a hit team-based shooter game, has been extremely popular within the gaming community. Despite controversies, the game has managed to retain a large player base over the years, even winning the title of Game of the Year in 2016.

Even within its original roster of 21 heroes, Overwatch has always had LGBTQ+ characters. While none of them were confirmed to be so upon release, out of the original heroes, Tracer, Pharah and Soldier 76 have all since been confirmed as gay. In addition to this, since the release of Overwatch 2, characters Baptiste and Lifeweaver have also been confirmed as canonically bisexual and pansexual.

These canonizations came in different forms, from the comic, Tracer, to short stories involving Soldier 76, Baptiste and Pharah. In addition to this, the game has profile customizations with pride flags, some of which include silhouettes of several heroes on the roster.

Player reception to these confirmations was overall positive and has remained so since, with consistent fan creations and conversations involving each character.

This leads us to the present, with the release of Overwatch 2’s most recent hero, Venture.

Venture, otherwise known as Sloan Cameron, is the first canonically transgender character in the game’s roster, being nonbinary and using they/them/their pronouns. An avid adventurer and archaeologist, Venture’s bubbly personality and distinguishable design immediately took the Overwatch community by storm.

On the day of its release, unranked games were flooded with players immediately locking in to play them, and since then, there has been a large influx of fanart, as well as clips spread of their in-game interactions with other characters.

Considering how little representation comes out of overtly trans characters in gaming, it’s promising to see such positive reactions toward such a popular game’s new addition. Of course, this isn’t to say that transgender characters don’t exist in other games.

More examples of trans characters

Clove, the most recent addition to the first-person tactical shooter Valorant, is another nonbinary character. In contrast to Venture’s release, however, Clove’s design did garner some apprehension from fans for being too feminine and fitting into queer stereotypes. Regardless of one’s opinion on this, it’s another case of promising representation from such a popular game.

Apex Legends’ Catalyst is a great example of a loud and proud trans character; she’s not the only example of this in the game, another being Bloodhound, a nonbinary character.

Another example comes from the Guilty Gear series, with a trans woman named Bridget, who came first in a popularity poll for the game at the end of 2023.

Why does this matter?

When it comes to representation in any form of media, LGBTQ+ characters in general are few and far between, but transgender characters are even more so. The importance of these additions cannot be overstated, especially when they’re coming from such reputable games in turbulent times when it comes to discussions around gender and sexuality.

Players being able to see themselves in the games they play is important, especially when it’s coming from big companies like Blizzard and Riot Games. Representation like the aforementioned characters is an important step in normalizing queer identities, especially trans ones.

Venture in particular is one of the most overt and positive cases of trans representation in recent times, and it leaves the floor open for other companies and creators to follow suit and create a more inclusive space within the gaming community.

Parker Hodges-Beggs is a sophomore journalism major who can be reached at [email protected] 

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