Blizzard, the developer behind the immensely popular team-based shooter, had previously teased that some members of the Overwatch cast are LGBT. In a holiday comic released this Tuesday, Tracer briefly appeared alongside her partner Emily, setting her up as the game's first openly queer character.
Tracer features prominently on Overwatch's branding, taking pride of place on box art and other promotional material. She's as close as the game comes to a poster character, and making her openly queer was a big step in Blizzard's concerted effort for the Overwatch cast to be widely representative.
In addition to racial, ethnic and now sexual diversity across the cast, Symmetra had previously described herself as "on the spectrum" and the cast's character models reflect a range of body types.
Characterization in Overwatch mostly takes place in supplementary material like this holiday comic and animated shorts -- in-game, it's reserved for short quips and banter during matches.
Tracer was also part of Overwatch's "buttgate" controversy earlier in the year. One of the time-travelling test pilot's victory poses was changed prior to release after outcry that it was needlessly sexualizing the character. Blizzard's backpedal and framing of Tracer as a representative character makes good on the company's repeated promise that it would announce who in the cast was LGBT.
"We definitely haven't forgotten about what we said," Michael Chu, Overwatch's lead writer said to Mic. "It's very important for us to have diversity and inclusiveness of all types, and that includes LGBT characters."
The cast of Overwatch has been a popular target for shipping (fiction created by fans that romantically pairs previously created characters). Popular pairings include Tracer and Widowmaker, Mercy and Pharah and Hanzo and McCree -- all, it's worth noting, LGBT relationships.
Overwatch fans are very happy that Blizzard is pushing its goal of representation further. Though, as some fans argue, the developer could take it even further: