5 Lessons Writers Should Learn from Overwatch

5 Lessons Writers Should Learn from Overwatch

Hey there, Rebel, and welcome back to my life.

A tiny, small little video game came out a little bit ago. You probably haven’t heard of it. It’s called Overwatch.

Have you played it? Statistically speaking, if you’re a video gamer, you probably have. And even if you haven’t, statistically speaking, if you’re a person, you’ve heard about it.

I myself have not played it, despite being a gamer, because I don’t have an actual gaming PC, I only have a Mac.

Macs: great for everything…except video games. That would be a terrible ad campaign.

However, I am INTIMATELY AWARE of many things Overwatch, and there’s one single, simple reason why: I exist on Tumblr.

Tumblr FREAKING ADORES Overwatch. And as with anything else, once Tumblr decides it loves a thing, that thing is inescapable on the website.

There is fan art. There are fanfics. And there are erotic versions of both of those things.

Tumblr’s a pretty erotic place, if you didn’t already know.

And because of the amount of Overwatch content on Tumblr, and DESPITE THE FACT that I STILL have not even played the game—I know a WHOLE lot about Overwatch and the lore surrounding it.

And the reason I want you to think about this today is that if you are a writer, or, really, ANY type of creator, you should be learning five very important lessons from Overwatch.

Lesson Number One: Fan Contribution

What Blizzard has done with Overwatch is created a world that is so awesome, and yet so limited, that their rabid fan community is scrambling to fill in the blanks.

At unprecedented levels, people are creating art FOR FREE that is a direct advertisement for the game. So how did they make this happen?

Lesson Number Two: Design

Design is a HUGE element in the popularity of the game. Think of the protagonists of other major game franchises. How many of them are fun to draw?

How many times can you draw Geralt from The Witcher III before it gets boring? Who even is the main character in Dark Souls?

The Assassin’s Creed games do better at this, but honestly, once you’ve drawn one badass assassin hoodie, you’ve drawn them all.

Even a similarly awesome, popular game like Dragon Age just doesn’t have that much going for it, artistically.

Meanwhile, the heroes in Overwatch just look FREAKING AWESOME. They’re fun for artists to draw, and they’re great for fans to look at.

So when you’re creating your own OCs, whether in books or another art form, give them something unique and interesting that will draw the audience in.

Lesson Number Three: Optimism

Overwatch is a freaking awesome place!

In a day and age where it seems like everyone is rushing to be as dark and gritty as they possibly can be, Overwatch is a universe full of optimism and hope and FUN.

Yes, there’s evil as well, but even when the good guys are fighting the bad guys, there’s a definite sense that they enjoy what they’re doing and they’re doing it for a reason.

Lesson Number Four: Diversity

I don’t want to go on and on about this one, because it’s been expressed better by other people and because as a straight white guy, I have a limited amount to say on the subject.

Suffice it to say that EVERY independent, unbiased study of media and pop culture definitively proves that gender, racial and sexual diversity sells better than white male heteronormativity.

And Blizzard has learned that lesson and is running with it, to the huge delight of so many gamers who are traditionally underrepresented.

Lesson Number Five: The Wizard Behind the Curtain

The only reason people were afraid of the Wizard of Oz was because so few people ever even saw him, and those who did never saw his true face.

Things we can’t see are always more impressive than things we can see. So by giving us only tiny little tidbits of the story surrounding Overwatch, Blizzard is letting us fill in the blanks in our own mind.

Just like the Lord of the Rings—my #1 fandom—they’ve thrown you into this AMAZING-looking world full of fully-realized people and places and events, and only told you a tiny little bit about what’s going on.

And our natural human reaction is to go, “Holy crap, that looks awesome. I bet—” and then we fill in the blanks with whatever WE want the story to be, or what we think it is.

That naturally creates a whole community of people who are WAY more invested in the story than they would be otherwise. And that’s something we as creators should always be trying to achieve.

And that’s it for today, Rebel. I will be getting a PC one of these days, and when I do, you’ll definitely be able to see me playing Overwatch. Really looking forward to that.

Thank you so much for watching, and I will see you next time. Byyye!

Garrett Robinson

Over 100,000 readers have read and loved Garrett's books, like the fantasy hits Nightblade and Midrealm. He's also a film festival favorite with movies like Unsaid, and a tech guru who posts lots of helpful how-tos for writers and filmmakers over at garrettbrobinson.com.

Share This