Okay, by now we’ve all heard the bad news. 2016 is officially the darkest year I have seen in my young life. We’ve had terror attacks, major political attacks and the deaths of many a beloved public figure. It sucks! However, there’s something I want to bring to your attention. Something that was said recently that is giving me a little bit of hope in these trying times.
This year’s BlizzCon was on November 4 and 5. The convention, celebrating all games made by Blizzard Games, had panels for everything you could imagine. However, the one I want to draw attention to is the United Nations of Overwatch panel. In the panel, the game’s international Voice Actors came together to talk about the game and their characters. One voice actor, Crispin Freeman, when speaking about his character, the gorilla scientist born on a moon base, said this: “Sometimes when a foreigner comes to a new country they can see that country better than the people who live there. [They] have this idealised version of how things could be.”
It’s an interesting concept. Of course, in his case he’s referring to a gorilla who’s been watching the earth from a distance all his life. But it pertains a lot to our situation now. Just this week, America elected Donald Trump as president. The decision will likely go down as one of the most bigoted, disappointing decisions America has made in recent years. And people from an international perspective never expected it to happen. It’s as if we all saw this idealised version of America as a much more tolerant and progressive society, and the election results just proved us all wrong. It’s a hard hit to take.
In Winston’s case, despite the fact that when he gets to Earth, he realises his idea of what Earth was and what it could be were skewed; he never stops fighting for it. He lets his ideals of this perfect world drive him forward. He fights for the hope that, some day, Earth will be as he sees it.
The entire game is focused on that point. Overwatch, the organisation, was created to save the earth in a time of crisis. They chose some of the most exceptional people in their fields to fight for humanity. To save what made humans what they were. And they’re made up of some of the most idealistic, hopeful, uplifting people you could imagine. Just think about the founding members. There’s Tracer, the unstoppably optimistic time jumper. Reinhardt, the jolly giant who fights for honour and glory. Mercy, the world renowned physician, hell bent on saving as many lives as she can. These are people who dream of a much better world.
These are people who dream of a much better world. They don’t think about all the bad stuff in the world. Ignore the hatred, the bigotry, the silly little things that drive wedges between us and see everyone as humans. Humans who can work together, and improve and become the people that put the twinkle in Winston’s eyes the first time he saw Earth.
I realise we’re only talking about a video game where people shoot at each other. I know the idea of drawing hope for the human race from it is farfetched. But think of it this way. In Overwatch, one of the driving points is the division between humans and omnics, the robots of that world. There are many who hate them. In the lore, the omnics lost control and started a war, killing many humans. But there are also lots of people who want to live in harmony with the omnics. They want everyone to live together and work together for a better future.
Now, try to think of the omnics as just a different race or culture. Does it seem that different? Can you imagine people holding out hope that one day everyone will stop the hate and just live side by side? Holding rallies preaching peace? Bigots holding outrage that a certain race or creed or religion were being granted more rights? We might be a long way away from robotic sentience, but you can definitely see the parallels.
Despite all the hate, Overwatch keeps fighting. And we need to be more like Overwatch. Times are dark right now. All over the world, people are backpedalling over actions we thought were huge steps forward. But that doesn’t mean we stop fighting. Just like the agents of Overwatch, I would urge everyone to think about what you want the world to be. Is it a more tolerant place? A more honourable place? Is the world you want somewhere we’re living right now? Because if not, you have work to do!
Your fight might not be fought with weapons. For most of us, it’s a war of words and ideals. But you must fight, regardless. Keep that image of your perfect world in mind, and remember it every time you’re about to lose hope. For myself, I would love to live in a world where people aren’t judged by their race, sexuality or religion. And I know it won’t happen for a long time. There’s a lot of hatred to cut through first. But that won’t stop me making my own small contribution whether it’s voting for change like the recent gay marriage referendum in Ireland or just talking down someone being an ass in game chat. Whatever you can do, keep doing it and don’t lose hope.