Overwatch and a pleasure of transmedia narratives

Before Winston, a glasses-clad chimpanzee scientist, was leaping opposite maps to vanquish his enemies in a pell-mell multiplayer battles of Overwatch, he was merely a immature ape with large aspirations and an affinity for peanut butter. But we wouldn’t know that from merely personification a game.

You’ll find no calculated, story-driven debate in Blizzard’s rival team-based multiplayer shooter. Overwatch’s character-driven account is instead trickled elsewhere: in genuinely endearing charcterised shorts, character-focused one-off webcomics, and short website-bound impression biographies. The latter-most isn’t odd within videogames, a second less so, and a initial is a many odd of them all, a 3 total offer as a primary proceed to tell a story behind Overwatch. What’s poignant is that nothing of these storytelling techniques engage a tangible diversion itself—outside of a teenager pre-start menu cutscene explanation— and narrowly equivocate a accoutrements of tasteless expository science dumps, as was a box with a repeated Destiny (2014), and other identical multiplayer-focused games.

baby winston

In separating a account from a diversion itself, Blizzard’s sportive a new kind of transmedia proceed to storytelling. Transmedia storytelling, a word creatively coined by academician Henry Jenkins, is a use of a narrative’s world-building opposite opposite platforms. This doesn’t meant sequels. It means literally peppering a story opposite comics, shorts, or whatever else, only as Overwatch has (and even the Halo array to an extent). “Most often, transmedia stories are formed not on particular characters or specific plots though rather formidable illusory worlds that can means mixed related characters and their stories,” writes Jenkins on a “Transmedia Storytelling 101” blog post. “This routine of world-building encourages an comprehensive incentive in both readers and writers. We are drawn to master what can be famous about a star that always expands over a grasp.”

When personification Overwatch, a actor is engrossed by a radiating positivity. It’s a star filled with sharp-witted tone and energetic, witty competition, many like Nintendo’s artistic kid-friendly ink-shooter Splatoon (2015). The diversion doesn’t burden itself with “killing” as so many other gruesome shooters do. Additionally, it doesn’t burden itself with story either. The diversion is beguiling though a weight of a account shoehorned by it, only as Valve’s identical team-based shooter Team Fortress 2 (2007) did many years before it in a form of a “Meet a Team” shorts. By separating a account entirely, a diversion is given room to concentration on a mad movement during hand.

Overwatch, as we play it, takes place 60 years in a future. About 30 years before to that indicate in time, a Overwatch organisation was initiated, a government-funded organisation of heroes, orderly to quarrel opposite a rebellion of Omnics,  a form of self-improving sentient robot. A integrate decades later, a rebellion had been quashed, “peace” was semi-restored, and Overwatch was done illegal, pinch a many heroes. That’s until meaningful characters (namely Reaper and Widowmaker, as seen in a game’s charcterised shorts) start snooping around, wreaking havoc, and expostulate Winston to make an unfit call to illegally return his former teammates. Overwatch is behind to save a world. Of course, this unenlightened information is collected scarcely everywhere but inside a diversion itself.

overwatch comic

The many common comparison tossed around about Overwatch’s garden accumulation story is to Pixar’s friendly superhero frisk The Incredibles (2004). Yet, it also has a bit in common with Alan Moore’s renowned, dim striking novel Watchmen (1987). Both The Incredibles and Watchmen tell tales of post-superhero disappointment, wherein being a favourite is now outlawed by a government, and former heroes spin to vigilantism, until a new form of fight pulls them behind in. But where Watchmen excels in a cynicism of a star and governments, The Incredibles and Overwatch develop in their idealized promises of hope.

Surprisingly, this apart proceed to a game’s storytelling feels all too informed for a opposite reason. When we consider of a games we desired as a kid, they were scarcely all colorful action-oriented platformers: Sonic a Hedgehog (1991), Crash Bandicoot (1996), Super Mario World (1990). There was no explicitly-told story between any of these games, though they were all led during a helm by an endearing impression or two, and a dishonourable immorality for them to chase. These are characters that clung to me and that we desired with all my heart as a child.

As with many media as a child to preteen, when we precious something, I’d always find out more. It didn’t matter either it was Harry Potter or emo band-related fan fiction, or anime-cultivated song videos—I always wanted more, more, more. Absorbing a novella by a sole middle was never a gratifying option. J.K. Rowling, author of that aforementioned child sorceress series, leaped during a possibility to enhance her universe. With an illustrated and brief story-filled site-appendage to a series, several teenager book spin-offs, and even a new film journey in a works, for Rowling, Harry’s story didn’t finish with a amatory call from Platform 9 and 3/4s in the Deathly Hallows (2007).

This is a energy of transmedia storytelling, and how we devour narratives overall—transcending small pages and screens. Transmedia storytelling begats a ability to give life to a story over a petrify narrative, even trickling it elsewhere in lieu of a primary middle itself, as Overwatch has. Blizzard uses a same universe-building, medium-transcending proceed with Overwatch as Rowling does with Harry Potter, reaching far-and-wide to teach a storytelling. Yes, we adore personification as Widowmaker, though how about examination an charcterised brief of her battling Tracer in an bid to murder an Omnic leader, formulating serve tragedy between a dual storied enemies? Or reading a comic about a goal of Symmetra’s that goes terrible awry, withdrawal her with indomitable shame over incidentally injuring a bystander? Hell yes.


Overwatch earnings that child-like joviality of admiring a impression for a easier things: their impression design, their contented (albeit, infrequently goofy) demeanors, and many of all, how we feel while personification them: assured and happy. Games were an shun for me as a kid, since we could suppose myself as a impression themselves, or during slightest as a crony of theirs. In transmedia storytelling, it’s easy to approximate myself totally with whatever middle we admire, entirely embracing my “encyclopedic impulses,” as Jenkins once wrote. Overlaying a really textures of my bland existence with illusory fluff. With Blizzard’s narratorial distance, I’m regranted that trusting pleasure, though luckily though feeling overwhelmed, and given beguiling side romps for when we want to find out more.

For now, we like my Overwatch with a side of story. An Overwatch where characters are developed for kid-like fancying. Like how we might wish to be Mercy, gripping a sharp eye on my friends, and recovering them during each turn. But in all actuality, I’m substantially many like D.Va, charging in though a thought, prepared to take on a star no matter a consequences.

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