Published: Jan 4, 2017 12:00:00 PM

tracer-victory-poses.gifHomosexuality continues to terrify and confuse video games' most vocal audience. Hold for a moment. Go look up Fear Effect and its sequel. They were trashy PlayStation games. Back then, you might've called them Resident Evil clones. They were B-tiered entertainment. Here's the connection, sixteen years later: these whole entire video games were created in the late 90's under the leering tease that two of games' women characters MIGHT be gay.

Wait, no, that's not correct. Further research suggests the ADVERTISING for Fear Effect 2 maybe implied that two of the characters might have stood next to each other at one point wearing minimal clothes. About as queer and exciting as walking through a Sears clothing department to get to your local mall's main thoroughfare.

Now, suddenly, a decade and a half later, we have Tracer, the mascot for Overwatch, a bit of software unanimously declared Game of the Year (by this site, too!). She's on their esports logo. And it turns out, Tracer, the character, is canonically gay. Meaning, women turn her on, and men don't.

/// Why are Overwatch fans upset about Tracer being gay?


Direct your attention to any dimly-lit corner of internet fan art and you'll discover Tracer was most often staged as a submissive gay bottom, paired with the sniper, Widowmaker. In fact, check a little deeper into the fan art sphere, and you'll find that almost all of the Overwatch characters have been set up like fetishistically maintained vintage Care Bears on an antique shelf, partnered in every kind of straight, gay, or polygamous relationships. The fans also all know that Soldier: 76 is the dad character, Mercy is the mom, and Ana and Reinhardt are grandma and grandpa.

And D.Va is a Doritos-chomping gremlin / dork-ass video-gamer archetype.

In fans' minds, this is how it is. They like how it is. Because they made how it is. They take these characters, this colorful clay, and they action-figure them out across the living room carpet, making the Overwatch gang, their lively template, into a world they'd prefer—imagination atop imagination. They call this "head-canon" in certain spheres: unique versions of story that exist in each individual's head. The fans give characters extra made-up adventures and backgrounds where none exist, at least not yet.

But now, thanks to the developers at Blizzard's backstories, it's become clear Tracer, the lively, friendly, speedy, dangerous time-jumping character, lives in an apartment with her girlfriend, Emily. She isn't Widowmaker's gay bottom. She's in what appears to be a happy, loving, adult relationship with another living woman that isn't a superhero like the rest of the Overwatch cast.

If you're looking for the reason WHY some fans are upset or confused about Tracer's relation, this is it: most who care enough to attack this idea can't fathom a functional relationship between two adults, let alone two gay women. These haters are so knotted by decades of visual objectification toward women, gay women included, that to consider that they're people (fictional people in this case) who also live in this human civilization and aren't having abusive, bondage-style sex with strap-ons literally at all times is too much to imagine. That's their mental breaking point.

Not to mention the loss of control over the Tracer character in particular. Tracer is not only a fantastic visual design, she's something unusual among video game characters: she's friendly. She smiles. She has fun blasting idiots and time-warping around the game. There aren't that many happy or friendly video game characters, especially not one featured with Tracer's prominence. Psychos hate friendly people and psychos who play video games are very protective of the inflexible reality they've built into the games they play. That's the "head-canon" mentioned earlier.

The homophobic, sexist psychos that grasp video games because they either refuse to, or are incapable of, grasping reality, mistrust what they see in people—even if those people are fictional characters.

To certain fans, Tracer was a hot, friendly girl. But they can't mistrust that friendliness because they mistrust friendliness in reality, friendliness from women, in particular. So they imagined her ideal sexual partner within the Overwatch canon would be with the meaner, blue French-accented sniper. Because ALL girls that friendly must secretly be sexual deviants exclusively into anal, right? Fans aren't meant to honestly believe they're putting on an act. That's all women are. Liars. They secretly like it in the butt. Everything else is nullified.

That narrative was reclaimed from the fanbase in making Tracer a queer adult who lives in apartment and dates another girl who appears to like her enough to go out for ice cream at a restaurant with Tracer's best friend, Winston, who is a talking gorilla that grew up in a laboratory on the moon. Tracer is once again cemented as the happy, friendly character she was designed to be.

Tracer is Overwatch and Overwatch is the future.

image source.

-- Alex Crumb
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