Overwatch’s Connection to “Real Life”

Over the last 4 months, I have spent over 100 hours playing the online multiplayer first-person shooter Overwatch. To my non-gaming friends, this might seem like a ridiculous amount, yet I use video games as a total release from stress and the mundane moments of life. Some of my explanation may verge on the technical, so I will try to be as explicit as possible. In the main mode of Overwatch, you and a team of five other players choose from a roster of twenty-five heroes and attempt to complete an objective while opposed by another team of six heroes. There are three modes: escort in which you must stay on a payload until you reach the end of a path while the other team tries to slow and stop your progress until the clock runs out, point control in which both teams compete for control of the same point, and point capture in which one team must capture two points from the other time while they defend.

Twenty-five heroes may sound like a lot, and trust me…it is. They are broken into four groups: offense, defense, tank, and support. Offense heroes do a lot of damage and move quickly, defense heroes tend to be slightly less mobile but can control a specific area quite well, tank heroes have a lot of health and can draw enemy attention and shield their teammates, and support heroes provide healing and other benefits like damage-boosting. Of course on the path to complete the objective of your game play, you have to eliminate your opponents with the goal of progression.

While the “best” strategy is always up for debate, one commonly-held belief is that a balanced team needs 2 support heroes, 2 tank heroes, and 2 heroes who excel in doing damage (either offense or defense heroes depending on the map). Sometimes less tanks or supports are needed; however, as you advance to higher levels of game play and battle skilled teams, this composition is usually the most flexible. Note that there are always exceptions though. If your team composition is not balanced, a skilled team will quickly eliminate all of your heroes over and over again until they complete the objective. If your team is unbalanced but playing against a weak team, then your composition may not be quite as important.

So why does all this matter? People play this game to have fun, and many people believe that offense and defense heroes are the most fun, so they may not ever play as a tank or support. If about a third of the team felt this way, then everyone could get by and still have a good shot at winning the match, yet all too often, four or more players of the team do not want to play as a tank or a healer which leaves a vital component of the team unaccounted for! This can lead to games that are incredibly unsuccessful for the team, and while the game itself is fun, I do not find it fun personally to continually charge into battle only to be eliminated several seconds later over and over and over again. It begets the definition of insanity: to try the same thing repeatedly and expect different results. Why then does a team with poor composition continue to try the same strategy (or lack thereof) for 5 minutes flat without any conversation about changing anything from heroes to map placement? Repetition gives way to frustration, and the game loses its luster.

All of this mirrors the real world in many ways too. We all play roles in our daily lives. Some of those roles are connected to relationships, jobs, or organizations. Many roles are not necessarily as desirable as others; however, some are still quite necessary. If no one is willing to make the tough choices or fill the lacking role, you may be able to get by during easy times, yet once things become difficult, everything will crumble beneath you until someone bends and decides to step up to the plate. Overwatch is nice because the team composition screen suggests which hero types to choose or which ones to cut back on, but the real world does not have this function most of the time. No one is there to tell the summer camp counselors that one of them should actually provide real consequences for campers who act out, no one is there to tell you how to act on a first date (which persona to adapt), no one can force you to be the leader that your life, friends, organization, workplace, or the world needs. These choices must come from knowledge, desire, selflessness, and the ability to see the bigger picture. There comes a time when we cannot only take responsibility for our own performance but start to see how we are connected to everything and everyone around us. We are more than just 7.5 billion individuals inhabiting the Earth; we are the human race, and we must hang together or else we will surely hang alone.