This week, T is Tanking, G and Z take Offense as they all push the payload towards the goal: Discovering what is the appeal of Overwatch, and what makes people a fan of it. Are there fans that try to embody characters when they play? Why is Hanzo maining a bad thing? How did fan’s react to Tracer’s girlfriend? All this and more as we dig into the fandom!
Next week, SHOW ME WHAT YOU GOT: We’ll be talking about fans of Rick and Morty (with a special guest)!
History and Origins:
Overwatch is a class-based, online first-person shooter (FPS) developed by Blizzard Entertainment released in May 2016. Mechanically, the game consists of two teams of six “heroes” each working towards some objective depending on the game mode. There are over twenty heroes, each with their own unique abilities and skills broadly grouped into “offense”, “defense”, “tank”, and “support” roles.
As far as the story of the game:
Soldiers. Scientists. Adventurers. Oddities.
In a time of global crisis, an international task force of heroes banded together to restore peace to a war-torn world: Overwatch.
It ended the crisis and helped to maintain peace in the decades that followed, inspiring an era of exploration, innovation, and discovery. But after many years, Overwatch’s influence waned, and it was eventually disbanded.
Overwatch is gone… but the world still needs heroes.
Now, conflict is rising across the world again, and the call has gone out to heroes old and new. Are you with us?
— Fanlore - Overwatch
Looking at the search data for Overwatch, search interest in the game has been on a slow decline since about August of 2016, but still remains fairly popular. The largest spike in popularity occurred in May 2016, which likely coincides with the open beta of the game.
The top ten countries, by search volume, are: South Korea (by a large margin), Singapore, Finland, Sweeden, Norway, Canada, Australia, United States, Taiwan, and New Zealand.
Size of Fandom:
Looking at some of the data…
- Approximately 1.1 million subscribers on
- Over 138 000 subscribers on
- Almost 120 000 subscribers on
- As of last January, the game itself had over 25 million players
Easily, the number of fans is in the tens of millions.
There seems to be no shortage of sites that will give details on the characters, but not so much on the players. For example, Overwatch Tracker offers data on hero playtime and skill rankings, and from that we can see some general data points about the game.
However, we’re more interested in the players. From this thread in the Overwatch subreddit, we can get some data from its over 3000 respondents:
- Gender: 83.3% Male, 14.9% Female
- Age: Almost 70% of respondents are under the age of 24
- Frequency: Almost 50% of respondents play every day; just over 30% play 3-5 times a week
A slightly different investigation on Gender Influence in Hero Choice puts the number of female players closer to 21% (and provides some other interesting data).
Overwatch has almost 22 000 fan works on Archive Of Our Own
- …Just over half of which are categorized as M/M, and just under a quarter as F/F
- Almost all of the fan works have no crossover
- The top three characters in the fan works: McCree (~ 38%), Reaper (~ 33%), Mercy (~ 29%)
- The top three pairings: McCree / Hanzo (~ 19%), Reaper / Soldier: 76 (~ 16%), Pharah / Mercy (~ 8%)
Terry Crews stated in a reddit AMA that he would love to voice Doomfist, one of the game’s potential heroes at the time. The hero is now playable, though Crews does not voice the character.
Though many of the voice actors of the game were deliberately selected for being ‘unknown’, you may recognize anime voice actor Crispin Freeman (Alucard, Hellsing; Togusa, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex; Kyon, Haruhi Suzumiya) as the voice of Winston. (TVTropes - Overwatch)
Overwatch has no servers in Africa (Kotaku - It ain’t easy being an Overwatch fan in Africa)
Last Episode’s Famous Last Words
Are there players who make a point of embodying the character they are playing over trying to win?
Will I play Overwatch before next week’s episode??
Seriously though, why is Hanzo main a bad thing?
(I know almost nothing about Overwatch) (I know something about Overwatch now)
How wide is the divide between curative and transformative?
In relation to the 2016 Blizzard comic, how did fans react to Tracer’s girlfriend?
G is out. Kind of. Likes the asymmetric play and backstories. BUT not interested in playing.
T is in. Asymmetric play is really good, teamwork, fun, good characters. Likes it better than TF2.
Z is out. Lore is really neat.
This week’s spotlight
AnyKey Organization is a group dedicated to supporting diversity in eSports. Its mission (from its website):
To help create fair and inclusive spaces in esports for marginalized members of the gaming community. We pledge to: Provide competitive gamers with resources, support, and opportunities. Highlight positive role-models. Create knowledge and tools to help create more diverse communities and supportive networks.
— AnyKey Organization - About Us
The organization does research, has its own pledge (that you can take), and has an affiliation program so that you too can help make eSports better for everyone!
To take some notes from this week’s episode: The world still needs heroes… Are you with us?
Famous Last Words
This week’s famous last words around next week’s fandom, Rick and Morty!
Does the sci-fi help Rick and Morty transcend English?
What makes people think that they’re watching a ‘smart’ show? How does that influence how they feel about watching Rick and Morty?
Why did they greenlight the show based on the short, Doc and Maerti?
Where can you find us online?
We are everywhere! Most notably though, we like to hang out in a few places on social media:
- If you want to help us to create more amazing fannish content, become a patron on Patreon; even as little as a dollar a month pledge really helps us out!
- If you want to be part of our podcast (or just want to check us out), we record our podcast LIVE on twitch.tv every Monday at 20:00 Eastern Time!
- For all the latest updates, check us out on Facebook or Twitter
- To see the latest hijinx from our conventions or even our daily lives and adventures, check us out on Instagram
- For our latest convention updates, Let’s Plays, and other in-real-life video, check out our YouTube channel
- We’re also on iTunes, and Google Play, and would love it if you could leave a review and rating!
- if you want to reach us, and for some reason none of those work for you, try firstname.lastname@example.org
- You can check out our website; that will mostly bring you back to this stuff.
- Everything is
thenickscast, so if you can’t find us, go on your social network and search for that!
What is “Fanthropological”?
How did you read this far without asking this question?!
Fanthropological is an anthropological (ish) podcast where we bring the fan’s-eye view to you! Each week, we take a look at a different fandom, dig up interesting background, trivia, and history, and try to get to why it is that people are a fan. We also try to highlight good causes related to that fandom, and find interesting things that fans have created to share those to the world. Each episode is about an hour. Ish.
Who is “The Nickscast”?
We are the Nickscast! Three products of late-80s / early-90s pop culture who love exploring fandom and everything geek … who also happen to have been best buddies since high school, and all happen to be named Nick. Yes, we are super creative (dare we say, the most creative).
We are Nick Green, Nick Terwoord, and Nick Zacharewicz: We started the Nickscast as a labour of love, and as a place to entertain and to discuss our love of fans and fandom, and all that is shiny and interesting in that realm. It’s what lead us to start our first podcast, our satellite podcasts, Fanthropological, and so much more.
We want to help others learn more about different fandoms, and to create empathy with other fans: We dream of a world where other fans aren’t “those Weird-o’s”, but just folks with different tastes. A world where fandom is full of discourse and analysis, and there are plenty of tools and resources to help. Fans building communities to do good in the world. Because everyone’s a fan.
- Google Trends - Overwatch
- Archive Of Our Own - Overwatch (Video Game)
- Overwatch Tracker - Insights
- Kotaku - Overwatch now has 25 million players
- Inkspire - Does Gender Influence Hero Choice in Overwatch: Data Analysis
- r/overwatch - Overwatch Demographic Survey - Let’s get some data from you guys, to learn more about our community!
- Mic - “Hanzo Main” Insult Explained: Here’s what that viral ‘Overwatch’ tweet is all about
- Fandometrics - Video Games: Week Ending January 29th, 2018
- Fanlore - Overwatch
- Wikipedia - Overwatch
- r/Overwatch - If Doomfist becomes a hero I’d be so hyped if Terry Crews voice acted for him
- TVTropes - Overwatch
- Ranker - 15 Interesting Overwatch Fan Theories That Are Actually Plausible
- TopShelfGaming - How the gender ratio in Overwatch affects its male players
- Killscreen - Can Overwatch bridge the gender gap in esports?
- Polygon - Overwatch’s search for diversity
- FragHero - Blizzard Reveals Tracer is Lesbian and the Internet is Going Nuts
- GameCrate - How Popular Is Overwatch, Really?
- IGN - Overwatch Reveals Tracer’s Girlfriend, Emily
- IGN Boards - Why Is Overwatch Getting Away with no Single Player?
- Kill Ping - Here Is Why Overwatch Is Skyrocketing in Popularity
- Player.One - “Overwatch”’s Tracer is the New Iconic Lesbian: Fans React to “Reflections” Comic Reveal
- Quora - How Should I Ask My Anti-Violence Parents for Overwatch?
- Quora - Who Is Your Favorite Overwatch Hero?
- Quora - Why Did You Pick Your Overwatch Main?
Music / Sound
- “Cyber Starting Area” by TeknoAXE used under CC BY 4.0
- All other music and sound for this week’s episode were provided by Nick Green!