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Overwatch: Comfort In Chaos

Sometimes A Ridiculous Game Is The Best Medicine

By Nevin AllenPublished about a year ago 3 min read
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Support hero Zenyatta's motivational adages remind players to keep their mindset positive, not just their K/D.

The Introduction, AKA

“What is even going on right now?”

Friends of mine unfamiliar with Blizzard Entertainment's class-based 5v5 shooter Overwatch 2 (also called simply "Overwatch") tend to ask the same question when they see me playing the game. While this is true of many video games due to their reliance on instantly recognizable audiovisual cues and fast-paced action, Overwatch in particular seems to cater towards those who crave one distinct flavor: rampant chaos. Though the removal of one player from each team in October of 2022 may have calmed the winds in the hurricane that is the average Overwatch game, there is still always plenty going on.

Even without striving for realistic graphics, Overwatch is a lot to look at.

At any given time there are two tank players trying to protect their squishy teammates, sizing each other up as they attempt to land well-timed crowd control abilities; four damage players weaving throughout the ranks, firing recklessly at the nearest enemy head to their crosshair; and four supports, each dodging the mess created by the other nine players only to re-enter the fray to save their allies. It’s a dumpster fire. Even before I’ve finished explaining the scene to people, they always seem ready with a second question:

“Why do you play this game?”

While this sometimes stems from people who are familiar with Overwatch’s less-than-stellar reputation in recent years, this question paired with the first one creates a negative image of the bedlam that the game aims to bring to the table. Why, people ask, choose this game over one that could be more relaxing? More rewarding? More in-depth?

Simply put, Overwatch is a game about finding purpose in chaos.

The Appeal

As I alluded to while explaining the premise, each player in a match is assigned one of three roles. Based on this role, a player knows exactly what their job is on their team, and can pick any one character from that role’s roster to fulfill it. While exact character kits and styles of play vary, there is a beauty in knowing exactly what to do the moment your feet hit- or hover above- the ground.

This on its own is a special thing, but it isn’t unique to Overwatch. What makes Overwatch unique is the moment-to-moment gameplay. Because each player knows what each character is capable of and responsible for at a glance, decisions are made in split seconds.

Abilities are on cooldowns, creating overlapping windows of opportunity wherein each team can try its luck at bowling the other one over. If you don’t take the shot, you might never get it again. By that same token, if you miss, you can always try again after a few seconds. Feast and famine, weal and woe, the rhythmic pace created by ability cooldowns becomes a deadly dance punctuated by the crescendo of ultimate abilities, single button presses with the power to turn the tide of a match when used correctly.

Even after getting three kills, there's no guarantee you'll escape unscathed.

It is impossible for one person to keep track of the position, health, ultimate charge, ammo count, and cooldown status of each other player in the match. In the case of enemy players, it is impossible to know some of those metrics to begin with. The only cure for the noise is to lean forward and focus on the spot you’re in. React to things as they pop up, whether it’s a lethal wrecking ball mech piloted by a hamster or a teammate’s simple call for another set of hands. As it turns out, even with two players pulled out of the lobby, there’s still plenty going on in the average match of Overwatch to take my mind off of the day I’ve been having and rinse it off in a refreshing cascade of optimistic online sci-fi madness for an hour... or occasionally several.

The Conclusion

In a strange and perhaps cliché way, Overwatch is art mirroring life. In a world of infinite activity, there is only one path forward: find what it is you’re good at, do it to the best of your ability, and try to have fun in the process. Oh, and remember that when all seems lost, there’s always a teammate around to ask for help.

I have often come to Overwatch to trade an overwhelming life for an overwhelming game. Alone or with friends, I know I can always log in and find comfort in chaos. I invite you to do the same.

The world could always use more heroes.

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About the Creator

Nevin Allen

Writer, poet, thinker, student, archer, photographer, disaster, filmmaker, miracle-worker, gamer, baker, and avant-garde chair critic.

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Comments (2)

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  • Alex H Mittelman 11 months ago

    Great work!

  • Gobi Munusamyabout a year ago

    Good story

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