Uberwatch

Introduction

There have been many multiplayer first person shooters throughout the years: Counter-Strike, Call of Duty, Battlefield, and Team Fortress. However, Overwatch is the only one that really stands out to me. Maybe it’s the fact that it was created by Blizzard and I’m just a Blizzard fanboy at heart. Regardless of the creator, Overwatch is a game nearly anyone can pick up and learn. It caters to those that just want to casually play games and others that would prefer to be competitive. The game has been successful and the player base has been increasing since anyone can pick it up, play a game, and stop at anytime.

The Basics of Overwatch

As a multiplayer game, Overwatch sets you up into teams where you obviously need to work together to win. There are currently 24 available heroes to choose from. There are four types of heroes: offense, defense, tank, and support. Each hero has abilities and an ultimate that is unique to themselves. The basic concept of the game is that there are two teams of six, each having their own objective to fulfill depending on the map they are on. One team may need to be on the offense and claim the objective while the other needs to be on defense to protect it. Maybe both teams will have to fight over gaining control of the point. Another objective is that the attacking team must escort the payload by standing next to it to the end of the map, while the defending team prevents them from doing so. There are multiple game modes varying from competitive play, custom games, casual matchmaking, practice, and arcade. A team should be balanced with the types of heroes chosen or else the team will suffer from a lack of foresight due to their own composition.

Overwatch as a Game

 “A game is an activity defined by rules in which players try to reach some sort of goal. Games can be whimsical and playful, or highly serious. They can be played alone or in complex social scenarios… A video game is a cultural object, bound by history and materiality, consisting of an electronic computational device and a game simulated in software.” – Alexander Galloway

Overwatch is indeed an activity defined by rules in which player try to reach some sort of goal. Like I mentioned before, there are maps with different objectives (goals) and you are confined within certain restrictions (rules) that Blizzard has laid out. I also explained before that the game caters to a variety of players. It can be whimsical and playful if you do things such as casual matchmaking or arcade. There is also the highly serious portion of the game with its competitive play that consists of multiple rankings. At the end of a match, you are shown the “play of the game” which is the a recording of a player that had the best contribution to the match. Blizzard is subtly telling us that Overwatch is indeed a game. 

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Overwatch as Art

Some believe that art is objective while others think that it is subjective. Personally, it’s my opinion that art should be subjective. Everyone can have their own say to what is art and what is not. There is no wrong or right when it comes to how something makes you feel. Walter Benjamin states that “Even the most perfect reproduction of a work of art is lacking in one element: its presence in time and place, its unique existence at the place where it happens to be” (298). Overwatch is a work of art. The fact that Blizzard keeps expanding shows that consumers agree that it is art. People are buying t-shirts, toys, plushies, clothing, and posters. It shows that the game itself as art is able to grow and expand. Blizzard creates animated movies and comics to tell a story and add free content for players that want to know more about the piece of art that they indulge in. There are moments in the middle of games where players will just stop playing and take a look at the world that has been created. The design of each individual map and all the intricate things you can do with it. It might sound a bit weird to say all the abilities are designed so well that they’re nice to look at.

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Conclusion

Overwatch is a work of art and game that has influenced many people around the world. People are attached to the characters and the story line, so much that Blizzard continuously provides more content. It provides countless hours of entertainment for people that want to have fun or take things in a serious manner.

References

Alexander R. Galloway. (2006). “Countergaming.” In Gaming: Essays on Algorithmic Culture. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press: pp. 107-126.

Walter Benjamin. (1986 [1936]). “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction.” In Video Culture: A Critical Investigation, edited by J. C. Hanhardt. Salt Lake City: G.M. Smith in association with Visual Studies Workshop Press: pp. 27-52.

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14 thoughts on “Uberwatch

  1. “Even the most perfect reproduction of a work of art is lacking in one element: its presence in time and place, its unique existence at the place where it happens to be”

    Does this not in some way invalidate your argument that Overwatch is art? It is well known that Team Fortress 2 was a grand influence on the designers of Overwatch, effectively making it some form of reproduction. How does this claim by Benjamin support your argument here?

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    • I’ve actually never played TF2 so I didn’t know this information. Thanks for letting me know. I think Benjamin fits in here because as you said, Overwatch is a reproduction. TF2 wasn’t perfect. However, Overwatch was created to be its own thing even if it is closely similar.

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  2. I agree with the Ifaiola Overwatch was extremely influenced by TF2. The team of Blizzard themselves have pointed to TF2 as an inspiration and took many aspects from the game so in a way Overwatch is a reproduction of TF2. Regardless of that Overwatch is awesome. The art work is incredible!

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  3. I really think Overwatch would benefit from a story mode. I know that they’re providing additional content with the comics and little blurbs into the past of Overwatch and the people, but I think it would be really interesting to see what actually happened rather than have Blizzard just throw new information at us and then have us decide what happened. I mean, yeah mystery but I think it would get more people to play. That said, I think having the option of a story mode or multiplayer mode (like with the events and PvE content rather than PVP) would make more people play the game and it would further extend the game itself. It can make it more of a game rather than just play it solely for the multiplayer, even if it seems to be most FPS games are played for the multiplayer. I think it would make it more unique if they do it right.

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  4. I have to say that you first, you are very brave for choosing a multiplayer only game for this kind of blog. However, I thought it was extremely well done and well informative. What I enjoyed most was that you spoke to us as though we had never played the game and to me, that made it much more appealing and had me eyeing certain features that I otherwise would not have noticed.

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  5. I agree with Mason about it being informative because I definitely liked how you thoroughly explained how to play the game. As someone who has never heard of it I was able to understand the logistics of it by the end of the blog. However, I’m intrigued into the why people take this game so seriously?

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    • Well when you’re really into a game, you tend to take it more seriously. You’ll want others to either play at a level you’re at or you want them to get better. It’s a mentality along the lines of “I put a lot of effort into this, why can’t someone else”. That’s just my take on it.

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      • I also feel that when the company it self puts value in competitive players and scenes it pressures people to enjoy the game in that way. If the game had no professional gaming aspect I feel it would remain a more casual experience and not attract the type of player who is looking for the next esport.

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  6. Do you think if there is too many replications of the Overwatch images it will cease to be art and just a product? With Blizzard expanding into multiple areas of media is there a push back from its players to keep the brand on the gamers side and not on the profit hungry side? And side note: I went to the Blizzard headquarters in Irvine for a job and its pretty awesome. They have World of Warcraft relics all over the place. I went before this game came out but In sure they’ve redecorated since.

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    • I think that they’re between art and profit. There’s just the right amount of balance. I had a job interview once at Bandai in Santa Clara. It’s like a gamer’s paradise there. There were so many props and figurines. I wanted to record it but that would have been pretty bad since I had people giving me a tour the whole time. There were arcade machines, televisions, and a bunch of other cool things all around.

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  7. Nice breakthrough on how the game ties into a game and art for someone who has never played this game. I have heard very fondly of it and am not surprised since it is from Blizzard, they do create some pretty awesome games. The evidence that you provide to state how Overwatch is game was very good. I felt using Galloway’s definition for what a game was works perfectly with this game because it clearly is a game.

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  8. Very well analysis! I am so happy to know that someone wanted to talk about how Overwatch can be considered art and a game. My favorite part of your analysis is the part where you talk about how Overwatch is art. You say that art should be subjective and I highly agree with that. I think that anything can be art and there is no need to be approved by everyone to be art. It does if it wants to reach a museum like the MoMA. However, since this is just a analysis then it is perfectly valid to say Overwatch is art and to support it.

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  9. “A game is an activity defined by rules in which players try to reach some sort of goal.” with this I feel it works for every game there is. I mean without a goal is it really a game. I actually have played overwatch and i am quite good at it, I have achieved “top 500” status in ranking. There are several goals in overwatch but I think the king of the hill mode is my favorite because you can just “frag out”

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  10. Before reading your blog I had some doubts as Overwatch in my eyes has been a really in your face game with the public adoring it to great lengths. As someone pointed out in an earlier comment, it does mirror Team Fortress 2 but I believe what you could of argued was that Overwatch set a new standard. You try to use the marketing as an example to explain Overwatch as art but I see that as just that, marketing, because why would a company not benefit from it’s new popular hit? As art I believe you could have used all of the games being released trying to imitate Overwatch! It sort of created a new era or trend like the Renaissance Art era where everyone was obsessed with that style, same with Overwatch! It goes a little out of what we learned in class but do you think that would have made a good argument as well?

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