Artwork 3: Overwatch Intervention

by | Nov 29, 2018 | Artwork #3: Intervene, Projects

For my intervention piece, I chose to play as a pacifist in Overwatch. I was inspired by the World of Warcraft group we spoke about in class that healed both sides of a PvP fight, acting as a neutral party in a game that typically pits people against one another and encourages you to take a side. Overwatch is similar – players are grouped into teams of six and fight each other to win capture points or push payloads. I had seen individual players act as pacifists before with varying success, and occasionally everyone would catch on and act friendly, but I was interested to see what would happen if an entire team refused to fight.

I gathered a group of friends to team up with. Unfortunately, due to time constraints and busy schedules, I could only gather four friends at a time, so we had to ask the randomly assigned sixth player to help our cause and act as a pacifist. One person actually left the game before it started since they were not interested in not fighting. We played three games, each time using a predetermined formula. For the first round or point of each game, we would go to the capture point and only use our emotes or voice lines to communicate with the other team. We acted as nonviolently as possible, and did not shoot at the other team. A few people from the other team caught on in the beginning, and acted friendly and nonviolently towards us, but for the most part players on the other team just killed us. We then typed in the match chat and told the other team our intentions, and again waited to see what they would do. A few more players acted nonviolently, but most still shot at us.

I can conclude from this intervention that the few games of Overwatch I’ve seen in which every player acts as a pacifist are rare. Just because a team acts friendly doesn’t mean that everyone will respond in the same way. Many of the players just want to play the game as intended. Those rare moments of pacifism usually happen organically, and everyone must agree, either through chat or through nonviolent actions, to not shoot. I think this intervention showed just how compelling the rules of Overwatch are, and the competitive nature of the players who are unwilling to subvert the expectations of the game. In the future I would be interested to see if playing as a pacifist in other competitive games would be more or less successful than this attempt.

The documentation of this intervention can be seen below in three videos.