If you happen to tuned into the Overwatch League’s Friday video games, you in all probability noticed dozens of esports followers decked out in rainbow garb or flashing LGBTQ-themed indicators as quickly because the digital camera turned their method. It was Satisfaction Day for the Overwatch League—a day that Overwatch writer Blizzard placed on for followers to “come collectively for range and inclusion,” they stated of their announcement.
However Korean followers who tuned in noticed one thing a bit totally different: a business-as-usual Overwatch League broadcast with no pomp or circumstance.
Based on two Overwatch League insiders with information of the published, main as much as final yr’s Satisfaction occasion, American and Korean Overwatch League broadcast professionals mentioned how the celebration would come off to audiences in Asia. For “cultural causes,” stated a supply, Blizzard’s Korean group and regional broadcast companions made the choice to minimally broadcast expressions of Satisfaction Day at Blizzard Area final yr. It’s doable these causes are associated to South Korea’s conservatism on LGBTQ rights. Based on a 2017 Gallup ballot, practically 60 % of the nation is towards same-sex marriage, which isn’t authorized there. (Within the U.S., solely about 33 % of individuals disapprove.)
This yr’s Korean and American broadcasts had been totally different as nicely, with the American one celebrating Satisfaction and the Korean one surprisingly, nicely, not. Followers’ indicators weren’t outstanding, and based on two individuals who know Korean, there was little or no point out of Satisfaction Day on the Korean broadcast. Korea’s Satisfaction Day broadcast didn’t seem considerably totally different from regular, however the hype and expressive Satisfaction Day celebrations in Blizzard Area do appear to be performed down, one thing two sources say was, a minimum of final yr, intentional. Blizzard didn’t reply to Kotaku’s request for remark.
“We didn’t shoot the world any otherwise than we’d on another day…We didn’t exit of our option to keep away from indicators, followers, ambiance,” the second insider defined of the American broadcast. “Our Korean companions had been conscious of the occasion that [was hosted] within the area and had been allowed to make no matter determination they felt was applicable for his or her broadcast based mostly on that information.” The insider added that “We gave the regional leads and their broadcast companions the autonomy to current their portion of this system as they felt finest.” The published out of California is the grasp broadcast, and most of what’s added to or deviates from it’s finished in native markets. For instance, every group has totally different casters, graphics, and desk segments.
Final yr was the League’s first Satisfaction occasion. “We’re excited to get into the spirit of range and inclusion all through the day,” learn Blizzard’s occasion description. Within the Blizzard Area, followers expressing assist for queer people carried indicators studying “Gays into the iris,” “Bi Satisfaction,” “Play of the Homosexual” and “Hello homosexual, I’m Dad.” Within the foreground, casters like Chris Puckett wore rainbow wristbands. This yr, the Satisfaction Day broadcast was much more direct in its celebration. On the livestream, Puckett says, “Right now is Satisfaction Day and we’re celebrating the mutual assist between the Overwatch League and the LGBTQ neighborhood right here on the Blizzard Area…The Overwatch League prides itself on welcoming followers from all walks of life no matter background or way of life. Right now, we would like take a second to acknowledge among the largest followers within the LGBTQ neighborhood.”
On Blizzard’s merchandise website, the corporate offered Satisfaction pins to profit the Trevor Fund, a suicide prevention group for younger, queer folks.
Overwatch League additionally celebrated one devoted queer fan in a video. Of Blizzard, he says, “It’s nice they’re upfront. Ther’s a variety of queer area on this recreation. I feel it’s nice that the Overwatch League, as a brand new group, is being a part of the vanguard celebrating Satisfaction so overtly. Conventional sports activities aren’t as ahead with their Satisfaction occasions because the Overwatch League. I feel that makes Overwatch League stand out.”
Though it is sensible for Blizzard to cater to what they imagine their viewers’s tastes are, one insider says that if Blizzard needs to be a power for change, they could must make bolder selections. Overwatch’s most outstanding character, Tracer, canonically dates a lady. But in 2019, as recreation firms lastly start to higher symbolize the individuals who play their video games, it may be arduous to inform whether or not these strikes are fueled by market analyses or real enthusiasm for followers’ multivaried backgrounds.
Stated the insider, “I feel the message of Satisfaction is, ‘Hey, you aren’t alone. Nothing is unsuitable with you. You’re welcome right here.’ It’s for all these people who find themselves advised in any other case. Individuals who doubt their very own emotions and ideas. To say it to solely America or EU doesn’t assist that child in Korea or China. A frontrunner stands up. Both Blizzard is chief on this topic or it’s low cost advertising.”