This week’s blog I decided to dive into the World of Overwatch. Overwatch is a first-person shooter developed and published by Blizzard Entertainment. Overwatch was released on May 24, 2016 on the PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC. For my experience, I played on my Xbox One.
The Overwatch Cover art
Overwatch is a multiplayer only game as it sadly does not offer a single player experience. Overwatch’s multiplayer consist of two teams of 6 going against each other in several game modes. There are currently 3 game modes to play in Overwatch with the first being Escort. Escort is a game mode where one team must push an objective, or payload, to the end of the map. A team wins when either the payload reaches its destination or time runs out and the defense wins. The second game mode is Assault. Assault is when a team must either attack or defend an objective. The attacking team must get to the objective and take it over while the defending team must keep them out. Assault ends when either the attacking team captures the objective or time runs out and the defending team wins. The last game mode is Control. Control is when both teams fight over an objective. The first team to capture an objective and hold it for 100 points wins the game. Along with 3 game modes there are 24 playable characters, or Heroes, as of today. The 24 Heroes are split into 4 categories offense, defense, tank, and support. Each Hero has a unique look and abilities. Within the 3 game modes a team must be comprised of 6 different heroes. Teams are not allowed to have more than one hero on each team. The challenge of each game is the team composition as each game provides its own challenges.
All the available Heroes as of 4/6/2017
Playing Overwatch I found myself having an incredible amount of fun. The game is well balanced so nothing seems too powerful or weak. The maps look beautiful and the Heroes are so vibrant. Playing with friends is definitely the way to go as it makes the game a lot more fun. When I played alone I found myself getting frustrated because of my bad teammates.
Highlight play by someone using “Call of Duty Guy”
Is Overwatch a game?
Now we ask ourselves is Overwatch a game? Well to answer that we must first ask ourselves what is a game? For the sake of this blog I will be looking at Jesper Juul’s definition of a game. Jesper Juul is a game studies scholar who defines a game as a,
“rule-based formal system with a variable and quantifiable outcome, where different outcomes are assigned different values, the player exerts effort in order to influence the outcome, the player feels attached to the outcome, and the consequences of the activity are optional and negotiable.” – Jesper Juul
So how does Overwatch fall into this definition? It falls in perfectly as Overwatch has a rule based system. Each game mode has a specific win condition and each team is only allowed one of each character. The variables are the team compositions that each team compiles. The different outcomes are whether you win or lose. Players put an incredible amount of effort to influence the outcome. Speaking from experience, I hate to lose and do everything I can in order to win. I become attached to whether I win or lose. I will admit it I am a sore loser so winning is everything in Overwatch.
The legendary Jessper Juul that everyone uses in this class
Is it Art?
Now that we have the basic understanding of the game we can ask, is it art? First, we must as ourselves what is art? Art is, according to Google, is the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination. While in class we spent an extensive amount of time discussing aesthetics. In terms of video games as art I will be using the MDA model. The mechanics, dynamics, aesthetics model is a model that looks at video games from a designer and player stand point. Mechanics are the specific actions, behaviors and controls that enable dynamics. Dynamics are the means through which specific emotions are brought. Finally, the aesthetics are the fun factor of the game, the player emotion and engagement that the player feels. The developers, Blizzard, sought out to make a game that players enjoyed and they accomplished this in strides. Playing through Overwatch I ask myself how does it fit into the 8 categories of MDA sensation, fantasy, narrative, challenge, fellowship, discovery, expression, and submission. Overwatch falls under fantasy, challenge, fellowship, and submission.
Overwatch in action at the highest level
I consider Overwatch to be performance art. Overwatch as a game itself can be considered art because of the incredible amount of effort the team at Blizzard put into the game. However, the beauty of Overwatch comes from the performance between the players. Similar to performance art from Allan Kaprow, Overwatch takes on a life of its own because of the community. The Overwatch community is one of the most engaging in all of video games. A quick trip over to the Overwatch Reddit shows how big the community is. Overwatch is a piece of performance art loved by MILLIONS around the world!
Jesper Juul. (2005). “Video Games and the Classic Game Model” in Half-Real: Video Gamesbetween Real Rules and Fictional Worlds. Cambridge: MIT Press: