Heroic diversity: A study on cultural diversity of the heroes cast of the video game Overwatch
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Battling over objectives and taking down other teams is your goal when you participate in a 6-vs-6 player match in the video game Overwatch. It transpires on a so-called ‘near-future Earth’ and was released on May 24, 2016 by the game studio Blizzard Entertainment. The video game has received appraisal on its effort to portray diverse forms of representation in the ‘Heroes’ cast, the group of playable characters of the game. However, some critics have also argued that these ‘forms of diversity’ may need to be because its diversity is not real. In this thesis the argument is posed that the current understanding of cultural diversity within video games with the accompanying available research, does not cover what cultural diversity really is from a diversity studies perspective. Therefore, this study took this perspective into account. Moreover, the philosopher Slavoj Žižek provided a lens in order to critically compare the cultural diversity in Overwatch to what real cultural diversity entails. A video game could be seen as a conversational object within broad societal issues, therefore this thesis was conducted through a critical discourse analysis. From this analysis it appeared that the question of if there is real diversity present, seems to depend on how you look at the game. When one puts the focus on the lore and background stories of the heroes of Overwatch, the game appears to be quite culturally diverse. However, when one takes a look at how much of this comes back in the game itself, when a player plays with a character, the cultural diversity happens to not be so apparent.