At lengthy final, I’ve lastly uncovered the reality behind an Overwatch query that’s plagued me for six years: what the hell is happening with Lúcio’s hair?
Last week, I talked with Overwatch 2 developers Geoff Goodman and Dion Rogers about Sojourn, the sport’s first Black feminine hero. Since this was the uncommon likelihood to be alone with a few Overwatch builders, I took the chance to ask a burning query about one other Black Overwatch hero: Lúcio
Lúcio is my favourite pre-Sojourn Overwatch character each for his gameplay and his story. He’s a healer with distinctive motion and therapeutic talents. He was one of many first and solely characters I devoted myself to mastering (with doubtful, less-than-mastered outcomes) regardless of not being huge on team-based shooters. He’s additionally this cool, quadruple platinum, Afro Brazilian DJ with an affinity for frogs who determined to hitch a gaggle of worldwide freedom fighters to cease the company gentrification of his favela. I used to be drawn to him immediately. But one factor that all the time bothered me about this Beyonce-with-a-gun character was his hair.
I’m obsessed with Black hair in video video games as, for Black girls specifically, hair is such a delicate matter. A few weeks in the past, we couldn’t cease speaking about an event that was, at its core, about a Black woman’s hair. There had been laws written in the 18th century legislating how Black girls might put on their hair. Even in the present day, within the supposed “enlightened age” of 2022, we’re passing laws protecting Black people from hair discrimination after folks had been losing job opportunities and kids were having their hair cut against their will.
So a lot of my very own self-worth has been tied to my hair. I’ve rocked wigs, extensions, and dreadlocks. I’ve worn my hair straightened, pure, and, now, reduce brief. So I’m significantly delicate to how Black hair is represented in video video games, which brings us to Lúcio and the case of his bewildering hair.
You see, he’s bought these enormous — enormous — dreadlocks that seemed so odd and unnatural that I crafted this elaborate conspiracy concept that it’s not truly his hair in any respect however, reasonably, a bit of efficiency artwork. Yes, I’m a Lúcio hair truther. I’ve had dreadlocks earlier than. I understand how capital “B” huge they’ll get relying on the way you keep them (or don’t). But Lúcio’s locks didn’t appear actual to me. They seemed like they had been made out of froth reasonably than one thing that grew out of his head.
Where most Black online game hairstyles fail is when creators don’t account for hair texture. It’s why a number of the afro kinds you may choose in a recreation’s character creator seem like these huge, matte balls of not-sure-what-that-is-but-it’s-not-hair or why the afro fashion in Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands appears to be like just like the armor mannequin for Elden Ring’s Loathsome Dung Eater.
I perceive that creating any sort of hair texture in a online game is a laborious course of, so I’m normally keen to chalk up a nasty texture to time constraints and the constraints of a recreation’s engine. But Lúcio’s fashion of flat-against-the-head cornrows that bloomed into huge, bouncy… issues??? was simply so bizarre that I rejected that premise in favor of going full tin foil hat, actually. In my speculation, Lúcio’s hair is definitely a hat that he wears as a part of his DJ persona. It’s like Daft Punk or Deadmau5’s helmets. It’s a concept I’ve held for years till I lastly had the prospect to ask the Overwatch builders and ensure my suspicions.
“Yeah, your theory is correct,” stated Rogers, artwork director for Overwatch. Sweet, candy vindication. Rogers additionally shared that, with Overwatch 2, Lúcio’s hair would get an replace.
“We improve that for Overwatch 2,” Rogers stated. “A giant a part of the analysis that we did was attempting to create extra culturally appropriate ethnic hair. You can see that enchancment in his Overwatch 2 concept art. The foam loc headpiece is changed with extra pure (and texturized!) hair that also pays homage to his DJ persona, ending in brilliant neon coils that remind me of cybergoth wigs of the late 2000s.
While I’m glad to have my long-held suspicions lastly put to relaxation, I’m equally glad Rogers and his workforce understood hair is necessary to a personality’s identification, particularly Black characters like Sojourn and Lúcio.
“Something that I think is pretty cool about the art team is that we have people dedicated to improving the perception of hair on ethnic characters,” Rogers stated.