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Overwatch Logo.png
Overwatch Cover.jpg
"Overwatch Cover" [1]
Type Video Game
Launch Date May 24, 2016
Status Active
Product Line product
Platform Microsoft Windows, Xbox One, PlayStation 4
Website https://playoverwatch.com/en-us/

Overwatch is a video game created by Blizzard Entertainment and was released on May 24, 2016. Overwatch is a first-person shooter genre game, with 24 different heroes to choose from. Each hero has a different style of play, and each player picks a hero based off of their preferred style of play. There are 6 players on each team in the standard game mode, with 2 teams per match total. There are four main categories of hero play styles: tank characters, offensive characters (often referred to as DPS, which stands for damage per second), defensive characters, and support characters. Different combinations of these heroes can lead to different strategies within the game. Overwatch is often praised for its diverse cast of characters, representing all sorts of body types and ethnicities.


A standard Overwatch game consists of 2 teams and 12 players--6 players on each team. Each player must select a hero from the hero pool and wait in a holding area until the match starts, at which point the gates to the holding area for each team are released. Each team races towards an objective in order to contest the objective. Objectives range from payloads (which the attacking team must escort, and the defending team must ensure that the attacking team does not escort the payload) to holding points. Matches last until the objective is completed, or until the time runs out.

There are other non-standard game modes, such as 3v3 matches, or fun holiday-themed campaigns. These are listed under the "Arcade" game modes, where you can win up to 3 matches a week to obtain a loot box.

Loot Boxes

Overwatch has a vanity system in which players can obtain skins for their heroes from loot boxes. Loot boxes are obtained either from leveling up your account (done by completing games) or by purchasing with real money. In each loot box, there are 4 items. Items can be skins (appearance changes for heroes), sprays (art you can put on walls and floors in the middle of matches), voice lines for heroes, victory poses (a pose your chosen hero strikes at the end of a won match), highlight intros (an animation that plays if you are selected for the play of the game during each match), or in-game currency. There are tiers of vanity items--common, rare, epic, and legendary. Vanity items can either be looted from loot boxes or purchased with in-game currency. Common items are worth the least, rare items are worth the second-least, epic items are worth the second-most, and legendary items are worth the most. If a player receives a duplicate item, the player is automatically refunded a set amount of in-game currency.


Portrait Name Role Portrait Name Role Portrait Name Role Portrait Name Role
OWAna.png Ana Support OWBastion.png Bastion Defense OWDVa.png D.Va Tank OWGenji.png Genji Offense
OWHanzo.png Hanzo Defense OWJunkrat.png Junkrat Defense OWLucio.png Lucio Support OWMcCree.png McCree Offense
OWMei.png Mei Defense OWMercy.png Mercy Support OWOrisa.png Orisa Tank OWPharah.png Pharah Offense
OWReaper.png Reaper Offense OWReinhardt.png Reinhardt Tank OWRoadhog.png Roadhog Tank OWSoldier 76.png Soldier: 76 Offense
OWSombra.png Sombra Offense OWSymmetra.png Symmetra Support OWTorbjorn.png Torbjorn Support OWTracer.png Tracer Offense
OWWidowmaker.png Widowmaker Defense OWWinston.png Winston Tank OWZarya.png Zarya Tank OWZenyatta.png Zenyatta Support

Professional Scene

Blizzard Entertainment is sometimes criticized for a lack of proper management over their competitive Overwatch scene. As it stands, there is currently no Blizzard-sponsored Overwatch tournament that exists. Instead, tournaments are created by third-party sponsors. It is unknown whether or not Blizzard has any plans to change this at this time.

One of the tournaments in place for Overwatch as of right now, at a collegiate level, is Tespa. Over $100,000 worth of scholarship prizing was offered by Tespa in a tournament in Fall of 2016.[1] In November 2016 it was announced that a new esports league was forming called Overwatch League. This is a professional esports league completely funded by Blizzard Entertainment. After a year or so Blizzard announced the first twelve teams involved in this league split between two divisions.[2] The league started around December 6th, 2017 to December 9th, 2017 with preseason play before kicking off it's inaugural season on January 10th, 2018 where it's continuing until June 16th, 2018.[3] Overwatch League offers it's players a $50,000 guaranteed minimum based salary with healthcare, retirement savings plans, and housing during the season.

Pacific Division

  1. Dallas Fuel
  2. Los Angeles Gladiators
  3. Los Angeles Valiant
  4. San Francisco Shock
  5. Seoul Dynasty
  6. Shanghai Dragons

Atlantic Division

  1. Boston Uprising
  2. Florida Mayhem
  3. Houston Outlaws
  4. London Spitfire
  5. New York Excelsior
  6. Philadelphia Fusion

Ethical Concerns

Concerns about the portrayal of female bodies

Overwatch has faced concerns regarding the presentation and portrayal of their characters. Mei is a female character with vanity skin with a non-normative body shape. Undergoing an update, her skin appeared to be lighter. Mei has been appreciated by many members of the community for her body type; it provides better representation for female body types in video games. When Mei's Lunar New Year skin was released, it made her appear to look thinner outraging the gaming community. Blizzard has since responded and said that it was an unintentional bug and fixed the issue. [4]

Some characters in Overwatch appear to be oversexualized when developed. There was once a player complaining in the game forum that the victory pose of a female character named Tracer was overly sexualized and there was nothing to do with the identity and personality of that character. Following that, more feedbacks about the sexualized pose and apparel of female characters rose and the players complained that such designs were stereotypic and disrespectful to females and intentional to manifest the sexual differences of male and female characters. In response, Blizzard removed the controversial poses and apologized to those who felt uncomfortable because of that. The game director, Jeff Kaplan, claimed, "We want everyone to feel strong and heroic in our community.” [5]

Concerns about the portrayal of different cultures

The Overwatch character roster was designed with the idea that the characters were very diverse and came from cultures all around the world. However, this became an issue when there was some backlash about some of the skins in the game being disrespectful of other cultures. Symmetra a character from India has a skin where she is depicted as the Hindu goddess Devi. This was brought to Blizzard's attention as problematic in July 2016 by the President of the Universal Society of Hinduism Rajan Zed. He argued allowing players to control the movements of Devi was problematic and is disrespectful of Hinduism and its beliefs and depiction of Symmetra as Devi herself was not done in an accurate way according to Hindu teachings. Blizzard has yet responded to this statement and the skin is still in the game. This is an example of implicit bias in the application design of Overwatch. This entire situation could have been avoided if Blizzard had a team from diverse backgrounds who could comment on whether a certain depiction of another culture was done tastefully. Phillip Brey defines biases as things in a system which "systematically and unfairly discriminates against certain individuals or groups, who may be users or other stakeholders.” [6] As a company Blizzard has the responsibility to their consumers to not unfairly discriminate against a portion of their users.

Concerns with Lootboxes

The use of loot boxes in games, in general, has been a contentious topic. Because of their similarity to Skinner boxes which are things where the reinforcement of certain activities is rewarded with some stimulus. [7] The random nature of loot boxes have been deemed by some as predatory and manipulate people with tendencies to gamble to go beyond their own financial means. In Overwatch loot boxes may contain either a skin, victory pose, spray, voice line, and "play of the game" screen. Items are also classified under a rarity system of common, uncommon, rare, and legendary. The Belgian Gaming Commission in November 2017 investigated the loot boxes in Overwatch and Star Wars Battlefront II on grounds of them being unlicensed gambling. This caused Blizzard to change the model of how loot boxes could be acquired in those areas to accommodate local gambling laws. In China, this required Blizzard to formally disclose the probability model used in the distribution of items in loot boxes.


  1. Tespa Collegiate Series - Overwatch https://compete.tespa.org/tournament/27
  2. Overwatch League InformationRetrieved on 14 Apr 2018.
  3. Details for Overwatch LeagueRetrieved on 14 Apr 2018
  4. Blizzard Says Overwatch Skins Accidentally Made Mei Look Thinner http://kotaku.com/overwatch-skin-accidentally-made-mei-look-thinner-1791596606
  5. Blizzard is removing a sexualized pose from Overwatch, citing player feedback http://www.polygon.com/2016/3/28/11321138/overwatch-tracer-pose-removal
  6. Floridi, L. L., Floridi, L. L., Floridi, L. L., & Brey, P. (2012). The Cambridge handbook of information and computer ethics. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. Values in Technology
  7. Cherry, K. (n.d.). How a Skinner Box Is Used to Research Operant Conditioning. Retrieved from https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-a-skinner-box-2795875

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