A-mei-zing!

The artist of a game can come from very different backgrounds and stories, however Overwatch is unique and can only have one real artist.

Overwatch is created by Blizzard Entertainment, where the gameplay is team based and multiplayer. It was released in May 2016 and with 21 heroes and 3 more heroes were later released. A new hero is currently in the process of being released this March 23rd. Unlike Blizzard’s other games like World Of Warcraft, Overwatch is a first person shooter game. Since the released of the game Overwatch’s player count has reach 20 million players.

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Overwatch is a very simple game to play. Each individual hero has different abilities and ultimates that they can use throughout the games. Each game consists of 6 players per team. Pharah_touchdown.gifOne team tries to attack while the other defends or both teams are trying to capture the point. The game requires a lot of teamwork and strategies to be able to play well. There are 4 categories of heroes that include Defense, Offense, Support and Tank. My personal favorite hero and my main is Pharah. There is competitive seasons where you can play and get ranked in a ranking system. By participating, you are able to get points for golden guns in the game. The ranking ranges from bronze to grand master.

“We really do want to create a Blizzard universe that is worthy of standing alongside Warcraft, Starcraft and Diablo” – Jeff Kaplan

The true artist of Overwatch is, Jeff Kaplan, the Vice President of Blizzard and game director of Overwatch. Him and his team were working on a big project called Titan but it got cancelled and Blizzard released Overwatch instead. However he was not the only contributing member that came up with the idea of Overwatch. Howard S. Becker states, “To begin (an art masterpiece), someone must have an idea of what kind of work is to be made and of its specific form”. Arnold Tsang and Geoff Goodman both helped design some class settings and draw amazing characters.

Kaplan earned a Bachelor of Arts degree one english with an emphasis  on creative writing from the University of Southern California then later earned a Masters in Fine Arts degree in creative writing. Before becoming the game director and leader of Overwatch he worked on World of Warcraft’s designs. The reason I beJeffrey_Kaplanlieve he is the artist is because he is the leader of the development and creation of Overwatch. Like Roland Barthes states in The Death of the Author, “the explanation of the work is always sought in the man who has produced it, as if, through the more or less transparent allegory of fiction, it was always finally the voice of one and the same person, the author, which delivered his “confidence” (p.2). I see Jeff Kaplan as the author, creator, of Overwatch, however I try to do the opposite of what Barthes is saying and try to focus on the work that Kaplan has done for Overwatch.

It is important to attribute the label of artist to this game because it gives the game a sense of ownership to a particular person. Whenever there is an update or something big to be released, Jeff Kaplan is the person that states it and shares the information to the huge community. This reddit AMA is an example of Jeff Kaplan interacting with the community whilst giving out information about the future of Overwatch. Without Jeff Kaplan being the face of Overwatch, then there wouldn’t be one person that we could go to ask questions, say suggestions or give input that could benefit the game. With these community suggestions we as players become apart of the games creation and evolution because of this we become the artists along side Jeff Kaplan. This not only gives people incentive to be apart of the Overwatch community, because their opinions about the things they love matter, but it also creates a lasting player base, because people are more likely to stick  with a game that they feel they have contributed to. It also sets a path that changes a game that will get lost in obscurity to a game that will stand the test of time. Like countries need presidents, we need artists that become leaders of our favorite games.


References:

Howard Becker. (1982). “Art Worlds and Collective Activity” in Art Worlds. Berkeley: University of California Press: pp. 1-39.

Roland Barthes. (1977 [1967]). “The Death of the Author.” In Image, Music, Text. New York:Hill and Wang.

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16 thoughts on “A-mei-zing!

  1. I’m a big Overwatch fan as well! What platform do you play on?

    Jeff Kaplan is the game’s director, but I doubt he gave input on a lot of the specifics of the game’s artwork (models, textures, levels). I wonder if he runs the risk of getting too much credit for Overwatch because he’s the face of the game’s development team. Warhol had a similar role in his art, but as far as I know, it was all under his direction. Overwatch is a much, much larger project than any of Warhol’s works. It would be much harder for one person to have the same level of control over the entire project.

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  2. Overwatch is cool. I’m a fan of the game even though I’m not that good at it. I enjoyed how you brought the community aspect of the game into your blog. It is cool when a game actually listens to the community and changes, adds, and subtracts things from the game. Whether it is balance changes or skin ideas the game is awesome for that.

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    • Thank you for your insight! I also love that overwatch does this. For example recently Bastion had a buff and the whole community made it a big issue and Kaplan was like “Okay I listened and will nerf him” and that is pretty cool.

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  3. I was wondering if anyone was actually doing to use Overwatch as a game. This was probably one of the only FPS I’ve actually enjoyed. The other one was Call of Duty: World at War because it had zombie mode. I don’t play that much though. I usually only play enough to get all the loot crates from arcade and to get the first win of the day bonus. I’ve actually never played any competitive games. I’m too scared for that. Overwatch may be doing well but a majority of the other Blizzard games aren’t so hot. Starcraft 2, Diablo 3, and Hearthstone are somewhat going downhill. I’m not sure about Heroes of the Storm because I don’t really play it.

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    • Actually Overwatch is slowly becoming competitive but it isnt totally, most people play it just for fun and rarely participate in the season. Yeah its true that they are going downhill, however they have been on for years and there is still thousands of player playing the game. I know games that are really good but died quickly but those games have done very well.

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  4. Your last paragraph is the most interesting. The idea that we need a singular person to scream at so we call that person the author. The responsible one and the one we can hold responsible. When we do not have a responsible party, or cannot find one then we create one (even if it is incorrect).That said, your statement that we interact with him and become artists contradicts your opposition to Barthes…

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  5. Good to see that others are engaging with Overwatch in a similar fashion. We actually approached the topic very similarly, which I find interesting. Some have stated that we are at risk of giving Jeff too much credit, when in fact the act of taxonomizing a game as having a specific artist is sort of an act of violence in and of itself. Jeff is certainly the one putting himself in the position to be deemed artist, but this does not undermine the contributions of his team. Cool post.

    Peace
    —Nathaniel

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    • I agree with you, in contrast to other games and other developers, especially the ones that have been also posted on here, Jeff is one that shows his face to the public and enables the community to reach out to him. Of course the rest of the team is important and does work as equally great as he does, however he has made himself the main leader of the game. Thank you! I enjoyed your blog post throughly as well

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  6. Interesting post. I like how you definitively name the artist. That is pretty hard but I think your argument works. Do you think the employees of Blizzard would come to the same conclusion? And if they did disagree do you think they would decide on a different team member or broadly state the whole team as the artist.

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  7. Interesting, i have never played a game likes this before, but besides that I ask, you attribute much of the authorship to Jeff Kaplan. However to get things interesting, is not crediting Jeff for the creation of overwatch the same as George Lucas getting credit for Star Wars. I mean if Howard Becker’s point of view where he questions the true “artist” would it not be the entire Blizzard company. While I do understand how you use Becker’s idea of the true artist, Becker talks about the entire crew not to one individual. Interestingly, you also mention other important individuals who took part of Overwartch (Geoff Goodman and Arnold Tsang) would they not also be credited?
    Also one more thing, Since you say that Overwatch is almost like World of Warcraft, besides the fact that Jeff Kaplan is also the creator would you not be the author of your own character? Given that you use Roland Barthe’s Death of the Author. I mean yes the avatars or characters that you play obviously were created by Blizzard, but don’t you as the player give this animated character life through your gaming?

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