Science in Video Gaming: What makes Overwatch special?

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Although I’m both a science nerd and a video game fan, those interests don’t intersect often. Scientist characters in video games are often feared (or laughed at) from a distance, rather than being understandable or sympathetic. Worse, they are usually locked into two narrow roles:

The “Mad scientist” –  a friendly yet distant and absent-minded tinkerer, whose inventions take on a life of their own or wind up as destructive rather than helpful.

The “Bad scientist”- a character who focuses entirely on their intellect and considers themselves superior to non-scientists. They can be obsessed with finishing their research or completing their next latest invention, regardless of its use or consequences. Many take utiliarianism to an extreme, seeing no problem with immoral or hurtful acts if they might achieve a greater good.

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Overwatch #2 – Learning Curves

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In case the last post didn’t say it loud enough, I’m a fan of Overwatch. Being able to feel myself learning new things while playing is a powerful motivator to keep going and play better, unlike the Russian Roulette gameplay of COD, where simply spawning in the wrong place can get you killed instantly.

So, here’s what I’ve been learning so far.

Role Variety

As I’m not much of a PC gamer, and have never played any MOBA-type games before, I’m not very familiar with character types. While I knew that characters can generally be split into the roles of DPS (damage output), Tanks ( taking a lot of damage), and Support (healing or buffing the team), I didn’t really know anything beyond that.

I expected Overwatch to follow that three-type structure, so finding that it actually has 4 main roles, as well as characters which overlap aspects of multiple roles, made it interesting for me. However, it also meant I played some characters really badly at first!

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Overwatch #1 – First Impressions

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It may be a bit early to say Game of the Year, but if Overwatch isn’t my favourite game this year I’ll be surprised.

I wasn’t expecting to like the game quite as much as I do- I was expecting to get bored fairly quickly after hearing there was no campaign. Yet I’ve had more fun on Overwatch than I have on games promising more content and variety.  A major part of the fun is precisely because Overwatch contains “less”.
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