Overwatch has been largely leading the way when it comes to hero diversity, creating an eclectic mix of characters from all over the world with various backgrounds, lore, personalities, and designs. While there have been some flubs (Blizzard didn’t include a black woman on the roster until Sojourn was announced for Overwatch 2), the game has been applauded for its inclusivity overall.
With Overwatch leading the charge when it comes to in-game diversity, Activision Blizzard announced a new tool that will calculate just how diverse a game truly is.
King Globalization Project Manager Jacqueline Chomatas said at the time of its reveal: “The Diversity Space Tool is a measurement device to help identify how diverse a set of character traits are and in turn how diverse that character and casts are when compared to the ‘norm’.”
The Diversity Space Tool can allegedly differentiate between “token characters” and “true representation” by seeing how deep a character’s storyline is and how impactful they are in the game’s lore. While an interesting concept, the tool has been criticized by some who feel Blizzard is reducing diversity to “degrading metrics.”
While a controversial topic in the gaming world, other games have followed in Overwatch’s footsteps. Games like Apex Legends also feature a wide range of cultures and identities on their roster, whether it’s gender, body shape, sexual orientation, or race.
But where are the Jewish characters?
Despite all Blizzard’s efforts to create a diverse roster of heroes, there has never been a hero that identifies as Jewish religiously or culturally or ethnically. And that goes for every other game as well. If you look up “Jewish video game characters” on Google, the results are quite lame. You’ll get the rabbi from Grand Theft Auto and William Joseph “B.J.” Blazkowicz from Wolfenstein. And Tommy Pickles…
Some people wondered for a while if Octane from Apex Legends was Jewish. The Brazilian-inspired legend has a pretty questionable cosmetic featuring a sus star on his forehead that had some people wondering if he was a cowboy, a cop, or Jewish. But the design was considered more offensive than anything else, with many feeling it was an accidental reference to World War II.
So we are back to square one — none of the popular FPS or battle royale games have a Jewish person on their ever-growing roster. Why is that? Many have asked for a Jewish hero throughout the years but the gaming community has largely shown ignorance towards the subject matter. On Blizzard’s official forum, the question was met with people saying that religion isn’t part of the game. Others even asked what significance a Jewish hero would bring to the storyline. Some said it was too political. On Reddit, many people felt similarly. Blizzard probably doesn’t want to mess with religion in the game.
Okay, so what about a hero from Israel? Forget about it.
What many people aren’t understanding, however, is that we aren’t asking for Blizzard to add anything religious to the game at all. We want someone who identifies as Jewish in some way, most likely ethnically or culturally. It’s upsetting to see so many people expressing this concept as too political or extreme for a video game — this is definitely a concerning viewpoint for many reasons.
But honestly, we just want a kick-ass Jewish hero on the roster. It’d be awesome to make a statement about acceptance and diversity and tolerance, but we truly, truly just want to see a sick Jewish hero. There’s a reason we all cling to the Hebrew Hammer and The Zohan after all these years. We just want something fun that represents us. We just want to feel included. We just want to see a unique Jewish story built into a game’s lore.
With Overwatch 2 promising to add more heroes every other season, we are crossing our fingers that there will be an openly Jewish hero. And it’s honestly not as shocking as everyone thinks. There may already be a Jewish character in Overwatch’s lore.
Are There Any Jewish Characters in Overwatch?
Overwatch is full of lore. Each character has their own extensive backstory told through short films, comics, in-game events, voice lines, and more. When looking deeper into Talon, a terrorist organization made up of most of the lore’s antagonists, there is a person named Pacanowsky.
He was part of the assault on Monte Cristi, assigned to extract Daniel Fernandez of the Playa Cartel along with his unit. They started destroying the town, the extraction operation turning into a massacre. Pacanowsky can be seen at one point tossing thousand-peso bills into the air. Baptiste slipped away while Pacanowsky and the rest of the crew were celebrating.
Pacanowsky went missing while in Port-de-Paix. His emblem was sent to Cuerva by Baptiste in a folded letter. It’s assumed he was killed in action, but this was never truly confirmed.
With Pacanowsky still possibly alive, he can easily be implemented into the storyline even more and added to the roster. But let’s be real, a Jewish villain isn’t the most ideal for the first-ever representation. But maybe he has changed his ways. Or maybe he had a child or sibling who wanted to be on the good guys’ side. The possibilities are endless.
The point is, however, that Jewish people do possibly exist in Overwatch without it being “too political” or extreme for Blizzard to include. This gives us hope that other Jewish characters can appear in Overwatch and beyond in the future as more and more cultures, ethnicities, and lifestyles are represented in video games.