The newest Overwatch comic — part of a series that exists as supplementary story material to the main video game — debuted its very first gender-nonconforming character: the snarky, rabbit-eared Omnic named Lynx Seventeen.
Here’s the thing: There’s no way you’d know that the character was gender-nonconforming unless you follow Overwatch’s lead writer, Michael Chu, on Twitter.
“In the ‘Searching’ comic, Lynx Seventeen is gender neutral,” Chu tweeted Wednesday night. “Lynx would prefer you to refer to them with ‘they/them’ [pronouns].”
Chu often tweets these bits of lore for the game’s hardcore fans, but, in this case, he presumably had to do so because nobody ever refers to Lynx using these pronouns throughout the entire comic. Zarya calls Lynx “it” derogatorily, another character simply refers to them as “a hacker” and Sombra calls them Zarya’s “robot friend.”
The Overwatch team has made it clear that it has plans to introduce several characters who exist on the LGBTQ spectrum, so it seems strange to debut its first gender-nonconforming character through something as obscure as a tweet. It is particularly strange in the wake of the much more dramatic reveal of Tracer’s girlfriend, Emily.
Since Lynx is not a playable character in Overwatch — at least not yet — perhaps Blizzard just didn’t take the care to reveal Lynx’s gender identity in an explicit way. In the future, however, it would be nice if Blizzard didn’t have to pull a J.K. Rowling on its own content mere hours after it comes out, forcing players to follow their staff on social media at the risk of missing something important.