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The Overwatch League’s problems can’t be covered up with rainbows

Published on: 14/08/2018

It’s no secret that the Overwatch community, in general, has a bit of a problem with toxic players. Blizzard is doing its best to combat this and is actually making in-roads where other developers do nothing or fail to improve the situation.

Despite all the neat little community features though, there is one aspect of the game that all the updates in the world won’t improve – the rotten attitude and personalities of some of the pro players that are part of the league.

Both racism and homophobia are real issues still, and when coupled with the odd by of misogyny, they paint an ugly picture. Among the dozens and dozens of Overwatch League pros, there is only one that is openly LGBT – Austin ‘Muma’ Wilmot.

Now, demographic statistics alone all but guarantee that he is not the only one, however, he is the only one to have taken the extremely brave step of coming out in an environment as unpleasant as the Overwatch scene can be.

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It’s not just Blizzard and Austin that are making efforts though, but also some of the teams. Los Angeles Valiant, for example, won the season’s fourth stage after previous average performances. They have announced their partnership with the charity You Can Play. It, in turn, promotes equality and equal opportunity for LBGT+ sports and esports players.

In order to show their support, Valiant even swapped their team jerseys for ones that had a rainbow version of the logo on them. This is cute, and as a supportive gesture it’s definitely appreciated, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s a very small change. Roughly at the same time as Valiant chose to show their support, other Overwatch pros are making public statements against homosexuals and other races.

Dallas Fuel tank player xQc all but ranted against Austin ‘Muma’, saying: "Shut your fucking mouth and go back and suck a fat cock. He would like it." Disgusting as that is, Muma’s response was far more mature: "Damn, he's homophobic, too? Shocking. I don't care."

And then what?

The end result of this conflict was the same as it always is – xQc apologized, though it’s pretty hard to take a redaction like that seriously. Although he absolutely didn’t have to, Muma apologised too, for calling him homophobic. Now THAT is real strength of character.

Why do we not believe that xQc meant it? Well, he ended up being kicked out of Dallas Fuel for spamming a Twitch emote in what Blizzard referred to as a ‘racially disparaging manner’ whenever a black caster – namely Malik Forte – was on screen during an event.

Blizzard claimed that "it is unacceptable for members of the Overwatch League to use or distribute hateful, racist, or discriminatory speech or memes.” which is a great step…but even they aren’t following through properly, because xQc is still playing in the Overwatch World Cup, representing Canada.

In other words, though kicked off one team, he is still allowed to compete in official matches. It seems that, despite all its steps in the right direction, Overwatch creator Blizzard as well as the community in general still have a long way to go before they can reach their full potential – that of being a vibrant and inclusive game community that focuses on the joy of playing wonderful video games rather than on someone’s sexual preferences or the colour of their skin.

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