Nowadays, it's hard to talk about video games without gender issues being brought up in some form, whether it's those Games of War commercials or the portrayal of the various female characters in Dead or Alive.
This time, it's Blizzard's hit hero-shooter Overwatch that's going under the microscope. For those unfamiliar with the game, Overwatch features a diverse cast of characters from all around the world who battle each other in various arenas and unleash a plethora of unique abilities to turn each other into mincemeat.
As mentioned before, the cast is as diverse as it can get, with characters ranging from a robot that can transform into an auto-turret to a K-Pop starlet who rides around in a giant mech. However, there is one thing that many of the characters — the females in particular — have in common: they can't appear old.
Whereas the male cast is subject to whims of father time, many of the females appear far younger than they actually are, and their backstories are designed to explain why.
For example, despite her appearance, Mei is actually 31 years old. Why? Because, according to her backstory, she used to be a climatologist who was working in Antarctica when a polar storm devastated the installation she was in and cut her off and the team she was with from the outside world. In a bid to outlast the storm, everyone on the team was placed in cryostasis, and of course, Mei turned out to be the only survivor of the incident several years later.
Likewise, there is Talon, who is actually 33 years old, though one would never guess that by looking at her. According to her backstory, she was married to a top Overwatch agent who was marked for assassination by a terrorist group called Talon. However, when those assassination attempts failed, they turned to his wife, Talon, who was then known as Amélie Lacroix, and kidnapped her and turned her into a sleeper agent who eventually killed her husband in his sleep. With the mission complete, she returned to Talon, and among other things, got her physiology changed to reduce her heartbeat — slowing down her aging as well.
Finally, there's 32-year-old Pharah. According to her backstory, she used to be a member of the Egyptian army, but was soon recruited by Helix Security International, a private security firm tasked with defending the artificial intelligence research facility beneath the Giza Plateau. Interestingly, her mother was part of the original Overwatch, but she's gone for whatever reason, so Pharah is there to take her place.
Of course, not all the females have such stories behind them; some are simply their respective ages but still look remarkably young. For example, Mercy is actually 39 years old. Again, the common theme is they all look remarkably young, even when some of them shouldn't.
Indeed, the women do at least come in all shapes and sizes, but it's a far cry from men such as Hanzo and Torbjörn, who not only come in various shapes and sizes, but actually have appearances that are representative of their ages.
With that said, the question that needs to be asked is: "Is this sexism?" Not really. Sure, they are attractive and have been the source of pornography in prior weeks, but not most would classify them in the same category as some of the other females characters that get flak in the industry. On that note, it's not really ageism, either. Again, the females are a variety of ages — though most would never figure that out by guessing.
In the end, it's just odd that the women in Overwatch can vary somewhat in body type, but they are simply not allowed to actually appear old.