The Problem With Overwatch (hint: it’s black women)

Ever since Overwatch launched in 2016 I was rather interested in the FPS game, which was odd considering I can’t play a FPS to save my life. As I looked at the roster of characters from around the globe and their various abilities I couldn’t help but notice a rather glaring detail missing: nowhere to be seen was an unambiguously black woman from any of the 22 countries mentioned in game.

This made me pause for a second but I continued trying to figure out if I could ever get away with playing Widowmaker on King’s Row when there was already a Hanzo (newsflash: I couldn’t). But as hero reveal begat hero reveal I could feel my heart getting slowly crushed as I realized that nowhere to be found was a hero that looked like me. But where were the dark skinned women?

Ana arrived, then came Sombra, Orisa, and Doomfist. Still no black women. I was confused, Overwatch was an organization of freedom fighters from around the world…why weren’t any black women on the roster? What was Blizzard’s excuse? Well…they kept silent for a while with various teases:

Amazing things you see teased that didn’t make it into game.

And then this showed up:

You bastards…

What you see above is alternate character art for the infamous Nerf or Nothing hero Mercy. My first initial thought was why didn’t they use this? This would’ve been AMAZING! But little did I know that this was little more than epic foreshadowing of the worst varieties.

By the time Moira had been released in November of 2017 I had just had it with the game. When Brigette was released I had stopped playing entirely. I was in disbelief for a while and I stopped entirely. I was no longer surprised and just expected nothing. I was no longer playing the game, it didn’t really matter.

I had almost forgotten about it completely until Ashe showed up. This was by far the most rage-inducing character, not because she was a LoL knockoff.

 

Oh wait…

The real kicker was when I saw her alternative art:

I’d also like to mention alternative character art that got referenced earlier because this was wild. Ashe had alternative character art that depicts a quite clearly dark skinned character that did not get used. Why? Apparently Blizzard had an answer for this here. And upon inspection it appears that they’re answering a question…except they’re not.

They don’t explain why there weren’t any black women heroes in the beginning of the game. They don’t explain why they didn’t use dark skinned character designs and instead opted for a “palpable yet bland” (my words) lighter skinned variety. Why do I say palpable? Well…it seems that Blizzard thinks lighter skinned characters are more relatable/popular with their fanbase and they made three white female heroes in a row—Hamtaro on Steroids notwithstanding. Honestly? What am I supposed to think? Honestly, who cares about McCree’s ex-wife, Great Value Miranda Lambert?

She got the robot in the custody battle.

So here we are, 2019 and three years into a game that takes characters from across the globe…with no unambiguous and unapologetic black women in sight. I should clarify what I mean when I say”unambiguously and unapologetically black”, but all other black nerds out there know exactly what I mean so I won’t waste space here.

And just recently I was stopped by this video by Overwatch’s Twitter which appears to be teasing a black femme character named Sojourn. Turns out a while later that Sojourn is a cannon character. And now many black femme gamers are excited 


Too little, too late.

Turns out a while later that Sojourn is a cannon character. And now many black femme gamers are excited at the likelihood that she will be present in game. While I normally would be excited about this I realize that this is coming three years after the game’s release with a company that ultimately decided that black women were an afterthought. We’re talking about a company that somehow decided that League of Legends was their competition and can’t answer their fans questions. They also can’t seem to ban racist people off their platform fast enough:

Yes this is 2019 on Al Gore’s Borrowed Internet.

Everything about this gets me. Even if they were to come up with a somewhat believable excuse (there isn’t) as to why they can’t have black women in the game yet (i.e. they have a super secret society made up of entirely black women) it still comes off extremely sloppy and poorly handled at best. I brought up that black women should’ve been on the roster from the get-go and I stand by that. We have black women in the forefront leading the way on so many social justice issues already, did Blizzard really just ignore that fact? There’s no excuse for it. There are black women all over the world, Overwatch has characters from all over the globe…what happened?

Blizzard as a company willfully ignored and insulted their fanbase by not adding black women in a game that has so many intersecting identities…and seem like they’re trying to “save the best for last”. But they’re not “saving the best for last”. The best should have been first. The best should have been right there on the original roster of heroes from launch day. I can’t really forget about that nor can I abide by that.

If and when they unveil the black femme hero we’ve all been waiting for I’ll probably applaud from the sidelines; but I’m unlikely to pick up my controller again.

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Oh Where Have I Been? The Trouble I’ve Seen

You wouldn’t want to be bogged down by the sob story I have for why I haven’t been on here. Especially with my enthusiastic post for the beginning of the year promising among other things:

  • gifs
  • more anime stories
  • con plans
  • possibly artwork

I can’t say that I’ve made any real progress with anything in my life except starting Yu-Yu Hakusho about a week ago. That said, let’s look into the upcoming summer for what we can expect out of this blog.

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I mean, come on. There’s still good coming out of this blog.

 

I’ve also been (mostly) offline for Lent as a time to sit back and meditate on where I’m headed as an almost 30-something geek and what I really have to add to the subculture. Am I even part of it? I like to think so. So I’m going to keep writing and try to squeeze some blood out of this calcified heart of mine and maybe make this into something.

What the @#$% Have I Done Lately?

Wanted movie quote aside, I’ll just share a few things I’ve been doing in my long stretch of an absence.

I started an art hoe Instagram under the username mrsatrocity. I haven’t posted much as it takes me a long time to churn out any amount of art (no matter how mediocre) as I’m a perfectionist and hate not having something to show my audience. I’m also starting from square 1. I’ve done some artwork in the past but I don’t have anything to show for the present. In a sense I’m starting over a lá Re: Zero style as if I don’t have any experience whatsoever.

I’ve also started writing—GASP—fanfiction. Specifically a Final Fantasy XV one.

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I don’t have any explanation with this one. I played Final Fantasy 15 and I liked it so much but hated that I didn’t see any black women in it (sans Sonia who I’m pretty sure was black because she was coded as such) and wanted to write her into the plot. I know some people write VERY good fan fiction and it even shows up on TV Tropes under recommended fan fiction for particular works. I honestly want my work to be featured there and I want people to like what I write. Even if it’s porn with plot…or rather it’s plot with porn. If you are interested in reading Eos: Mirror of Truth, click here.

If you do get around to reading it, please leave a review! This writer loves that shit. I also have polls I put on my Instagram to see what readers want to see next. One of my goals was to become more confident in my artwork and to put more of my heart into it. Art and writing are my two big outlets I’ve used to help me in the past, and I’d like to continue them. I also have a goal of making a portfolio of my work on a separate website.  I haven’t put any of my earlier work into any portfolios so I hope I can get around to preserving them.

As far as conventions are concerned I only have 2 that I’ve planned to make appearances at: Colossalcon and Dokidokon. The summer is full of events and those are the only ones I can haul my ass to without putting myself through embarrassing debt and blood-vessel popping stress. The con headaches are real you guys and I want to avoid them like Sephiroth’s Second Coming. I do plan on uploading pics and writing about my experiences and hopefully having a good time.

For now though I’m going to cut this post short and go to bed because I’ll have something better to share later on. Maybe this weekend. I think I’ll have time.

New Year: Blank Slate

With the new clone 2019 shoving the old clone 2018 into an incinerator we are now officially ready to start off the New Year right! And it seems we have a lot of things packed within these first few months alone. I’m personally looking forward to a few things:

  • Kakegurui Season 2- I just want to see gambling games.
  • Kingdom Hearts 3- Nomura owes us an explanation for all these games! And I ordered the Deluxe Edition!
  • 7 Seeds (anime)- A straight up depressing manga. Now I have to re-read it before the release.
  • Boku no Hero Academia Season 4- (I gotta catch up with the manga first!)
  • Fruits Basket (reboot)- Finally we get to see Rin!
  • My first Colossalcon- Will make a full post detailing my cosplays and people I’ve met!
  • 28 Days of Black Cosplay- You already know that this is about!

Meanwhile I’ll continue trying to find a focus for this blog. I hate that I have so few articles up and I’ve purchased this domain myself! *cries* I’m certainly sure things will get more interesting from here on out.

2018 Highlights

  • Playing Final Fantasy XV
  • Watching Laputa: Castle in the Sky
  • Playing/Beating Bayonetta 2
  • Playing Smash Bros Ultimate (when I haven’t touched anything SSB related since Brawl)
  • Watching Castlevania

I honestly wish I had written about all of the above when I had the chance but I didn’t. I’ll make it my personal responsibility to finish what I’ve started.

NaNoWriMo 2018

I’ve taken (yet another) break from anything resembling semi-regular writing in order to participate in National Novel Writing Month. What’s this all about, you ask? GREAT because I’m going to explain some of this to you.

Watch my “progress”.

National Novel Writing Month is held every November from the 1st to the 31st where writers of all ages and skill levels get together and attempt to write a novel from scratch (50,000 words). This usually means no opening paragraphs, excerpts, or dialogue written ahead of time. You can however do world building, writing out character profiles, and research notes/outlines.

I’ve never completed a full 50k novel in a month…or any other manuscript in my time being alive and joining in on this borderline masochistic endeavor. That said, I’m doing my best…sort of. At the end of this month I’ll be writing at least ONE blog post for the end of the year (or so) and start gearing up for the next one. Until then, happy writing!

If you want to read more of my writings  you can check out this fan fiction I’ve been writing since 2017 here.

“Dere” to Believe: An honest look at popular anime personalities

Anime tropes are popular, no bones about it. You’ll often hear your local weeaboo tossing about terms they’ve learned from their favorite series one way or another. These tropes don’t just appear in anime but are standard for fiction writers around  the globe. That said, who wants to take a look at popular personality tropes and watch me deconstruct them haphazardly?

No?

I’m so glad you asked!

These tropes are usually represented by female characters, although they are perfectly fine for any and all characters regardless of gender or presentation. For the sake of simplicity we are going to use the pronouns she/her/they if that’s alright with you guys.

shuffles papers and notecards

There are four common “dere” personalities

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Clearly not my personal work. Give credit where it’s due.

 

As you can see; the suffix ‘deredere’(でれでれ) simply means to be loving or sweet towards someone. The prefixes just so happen to describe what kind of love that person encompasses. While on the surface as a flat archetype these descriptors are just regular categories to drop your characters into—which is harmless. They’re just characters.

 

But what happens when you translate them to real life?

I’m under the impression that people have trouble dividing fantasy and reality because I hear people talking about their favorite personality types (particularly when referring to their favorite characters) and how they’d just LOVEto be with a kuudere. I can’t help but wonder if they’ve really thought it through because these character traits are…concerning to say the least.

 

Tsundere

(harsh on the outside, sweet on the inside)

The Good

At first glance a hot/cold character seems like an almost ideal type. Harsh until you get to know them—not a bad thing, especially if you start off on the wrong foot. I very well could give this a pass and chalk it up to getting to know someone better over time.

 

The Bad

Ever notice how tsundere characters tend to get violent with the objects of their affections? Whether it’s full blown arguments or megaton moe punches, the poor person gets their noggins knocked. Then there’s the verbal lashings that border on abuse. I’m usually able to give passes on affectionate nicknames or occasional name-calling but the way Asuka treats Shinji is really unsettling. Since she spends the entire series unable to spit out her feelings and Shinji can’t read minds—it leads to a lot of confusion (the end of Evangelion notwithstanding).

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The view is captivating.

 

The Ugly

Well, as we all know (or should know), tsundere tropes are usually exaggerated and played (mostly) for laughs because *we all know that kind of erratic behavior is actually abusive and you won’t find love that way*. Right everyone? Of course nobody would ever think such hot and cold behavior would actually be attributed to feelings of love and affection (Italics for sarcasm and emphasis).

I’ve got some bad news for you all…People really think this works!

In real life I see this pop up in a lot of relationships where the idea of being hot/cold is seen as a good thing and is an appropriate way to show you’re interested in someone. Katy Perry songs aside, this hot/cold dynamic sends mixed signals and it’s a GREAT way to cause problems early on and ruin your chances later.

The truth is: tsundere characters treat their love interests like crap and are sending mixed signals that can in no way be interpreted as romantic interest. I’ve got nothing.

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Where the hell have I been?

It turns out I’ve been absent for a little while.

*pauses to gauge audience reaction*

Okay, a long while.

*pause*

Okay, I’ve been absent for an extended period of time. A VERY extended period of time at that. And in my time off I can’t say that I’ve learned anything new or gained any insight to the Geek world. Life comes at you fast and sometimes it takes the fun out of things you love. And I’m sorry to say that I just spent my time off working.

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Those gosh darned r-r-r-rules you know?

Now that I’m back I haven’t fully decided which direction I’m going with all of this. Shocking, I know. I spent all this money for a domain and I don’t know what to type. In spite of my doubts I will still continue to write about my adventures in the Geekdom and hopefully include more pics/gifs of my cat Stinkbutt Sombra.

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Photo for reference. She’s not interested in anything.

I was, however, able to watch a few new anime in my time off. Namely Boku no Hero Academia, Golden Girls, Brooklyn 99, and Devilment Crybaby. Will I write a review on these? Probably not. Did I find them extremely entertaining? Yes…well just about as much as anything that can hold my interest for more than 30 minutes. I have a short attention span and I get bored easily.

I won’t let my boredom get the better of me.

I’m not going to smash my keyboard….yet.

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Rate my setup. x/10

Guys and Dolls: A Fear of Intimacy

As humans we are no strangers to the complexity of relationships. They’re complicated, they’re scary, and they’re (very) disappointing. So when it comes to issues such as miscommunication, pride, and fear…it’s no surprise when things fall apart and sometimes don’t come back together.

What does the above paragraph have to do with artificial intelligence I talked about in my earlier post? Read on:

Instant AI (愛)

If there’s one thing I’ve noticed in media (namely anime) when it comes to guys interacting with AI and computer programs it’s that…the interactions with them come across as strange. The AI in question are usually female and the protagonist is male and when they meet, the trope Born Sexy Yesterday comes into play.

The woman (AI, robot, doll, alien) in question is usually fully grown, naive, attractive, but skilled. The man is usually ordinary, sometimes unlucky in life or love or both. And interestingly enough…he’s almost always white* (when portrayed in American media). And the woman in question almost always seems to love him in the end. The trope can be explored more in this video by Pop Culture Detective:

If you don’t wish to go through the 18 minutes of in-depth talk I can give my abridged version:

  • Born Sexy Yesterday absolves men from doing emotional labor in relationships.
  • The idea of taking advantage of someone who is naive and vulnerable is inherently predatory.
  • Unfortunate implications abound when this trope can also be seen as a basis for abusive relationships.
  • This trope is used as a romantic subplot and almost always only shows the man’s perspective without giving characterization to the female character. If character is given, it’s known that she serves to be the love interest.
  • The woman in question seems to already love the man without any explanation as to why.

The reversal sometimes shows up in media. Comics and manga like Eggnoid, Absolute Boyfriend, and movies like George of the Jungle do exist but are rarely seen as the norm. I suspect the reasoning behind this is that women who are sexually skilled and knowledgeable of the ways of the world are seen as intimidating, maybe

So the gist I’ve gotten is that being able to be someone’s first and teach them everything without having to develop yourself or consider the other person’s feelings or autonomy is what’s passing for love these days. And people seem to be wanting an AI that is programed to love them and only them without putting in any effort to be better versions of themselves. Do people even know what love is?

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Baby don’t hurt me.

Relationships Are Complex

I’m not going to go through the whole trouble of explaining what makes relationships work because everyone’s seen the Facebook drivel that oozes saccharine sentiments on just how you should love another person. So, in order to not insult the intellect of the masses I’ll reduce it to a few fine points:

  • Respect: relationships can only be built if you genuinely respect another person as another person. They’re autonomous beings outside of you and don’t exist for your benefit.
  • Honesty: While respecting another’s privacy is important, a certain amount of transparency and openness is required.
  • Communication: Actively listening and working on your communication skills are crucial to maintaining relationships, you can’t ignore this.
  • Vulnerability and Emotional Labor: Close relationships require vulnerability and emotional labor to be expended on all parties involved. Taking another’s feelings into consideration and

People are Afraid of Intimacy?

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Honestly, the idea of falling in love with a program that caters to your needs is downright uncanny because I know that real relationships with flesh and blood human beings is nowhere near as simple or easy. Relationships take time to develop and there are no shortcuts to earning trust. You cannot cheat your way out of emotional labor and expect to have a healthy and happy relationship with another person.

The downside to all of this hard work is that it can easily be all for naught. Relationships change over time, failure happens, and rejection is an ever present reality. It takes a lot to trust in someone else because vulnerability can easily be taken advantage of, and nobody wants that. It’s because of this that fear of intimacy is understandable: we simply live in a society where people don’t trust each other.

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A simple Google search reveals plenty.

So, what now?

So, we have all this knowledge, what do we do with it? We know AI are no real substitute for humans (please hold all Blade Runner comments). We also know that relationships are complex, full of complex factors (anxiety, abuse, isolation, ect), and are generally messy with no perfect or satisfying answers that every single person. Is it worth it to try and connect with another human being?

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Artists certainly think so,

While we have little control over the things that happen in our lives, we still have the ability to control our reactions to what is thrown at us. We can’t control people or how they initially respond to us. All we can do is take our experiences—both positive and negative—and use what we’ve learned in order to better ourselves. Your personal growth as a human being is important because one cannot understand others without first understanding oneself.

TL;DR: Artificial Intelligence is no substitute for human interaction and relationships and you are encouraged to seek out relationships and to better yourself.