I’m a fan of Overwatch. Blizzard’s shooter was my game of the year pick in 2016. While I’ve had some issues with the game, Overwatch has been a personal favorite for a few years. After a brief hiatus, I recently started playing the game again and noticed some new additions. I became curious about a feature called endorsements, which my friends told me allows players to recognize players who excelled in a variety of aspects. The Overwatch endorsement system includes sportsmanship, good teammate, and shot caller.
- Sportsmanship – positive, respectful
- Good Teammate – helpful, effective communication
- Shot Caller – leader, strategist
Endorsements: spreading positivity throughout the community
One thing I’ve noticed is that since the endorsement system was introduced, people are talking more. I’ve been critical of the lack of talking in online video games for a while, but Blizzard’s shooter seems to have found a solution. I played all 10 of my placement matches last night with ten different groups of people. You know what, in eight of those ten games, my teammates actually spoke to each other. It was one of the best nights I had in a while playing Overwatch. We were respectful to each other, and when it came time to endorsing teammates, I noticed myself consistently earning sportsmanship and good teammate endorsements. While that may not mean much, with the toxicity in online video games, earning these awards felt great.
Is it possible that earning endorsements are bogus and my teammates didn’t truly believe I deserved these awards? Sure, that could be the case. Players get to use three endorsements per match. While I get 50 XP per endorsement I give, there have been matches where I didn’t use them all. Why you might ask. Well, simply put, some teammates didn’t deserve endorsements. I’m using endorsements according to the descriptions. If you’re an excellent teammate, I’ll reward you with an endorsement. While Blizzard has been quiet about what benefits you’ll eventually receive, players who get a lot of endorsements will eventually earn in-game rewards.
Conclusion: The first steps to ending toxicity in online gaming
Since endorsements launched, my Overwatch experience has been very pleasant. By adding in a simple feature, Blizzard has made the Xbox One Overwatch community more civil than it’s ever been. Will this newfound positive outlook last? Probably not, but Blizzard has successfully stopped Overwatch from being a toxic place. I think other studios can learn from the steps Blizzard has taken to improve the quality of life for Overwatch. New characters, modes, and maps for games are fantastic, but making an environment where people can play games with others and not have issues is more important to me. Unlike other games on the market, Overwatch is doing something wholly unique, it’s creating an environment that rewards players for hard work, positivity, and interacting with other people. Only time will tell, but Blizzard could be the studio that makes online gaming a civil activity with minimal toxicity. While this may never happen, it would be awesome to play video games in the future without fear of other players ruining my online experience.