The Overwatch Empowerment Cup: A community pursuit of equity, inclusion, and competitiveness

Geguri is the player you are thinking of and she was on Shanghai Dragons seasons 1, 2 & 3.

But then you get a lot of other kinds of threads.

So you’re telling me intense toxic comments, in many cases very racist and and otherwise hateful comments are entirely irrelevant, but if men started to receive creepy and sexist comments, then men might leave? I’ve been told that I was going to get shot to death because I sound black, but because it wasn’t a sexist comment, I was just able to take that better?

You’re going to have to forgive my skepticism. Or not, it’s up to you.

Define creepy comments. I’ve had a ton of furries try to initiate sexual RPs with me just because of how much I like disney esq animal characters. Does that not count? Keep in mind, I’m not saying any kind of sexual harassment online is fine, but to say that men don’t leave gaming in the face of intense harassment just because its usually not sexual harassment is just unbelievable to me. I have heard and been subjected to some heinous comments over the years, and I just can’t imagine it would suddenly be worse if they were also sexual comments.

Let’s discuss the difference between equality and equity here, in the context of this discussion.

Equality indicates that everyone has the exact same opportunity presented to themselves, irrespective of the inherent biases they may face if they’re a member of an under-represented or under-voiced community. This means people who have inherent societal advantages are usually several steps ahead of folks who may be viewed as other.

Equity indicates that everyone has the exact same opportunity presented to themselves, however it also takes into account societal disadvantages, and by doing so compensates for said disadvantages through mechanisms that are designed to remove or lessen the likelihood of both conscious and unconscious biases affecting the final outcome.

As it relates to the Empowerment Cup

  • As a note, the Empowerment Cup was run by a community organization, and we chose to feature it in the client because it aligns with our values as a team
  • Women, LGBTQIA+, and POC players receive more targeted harassment than players who are not part of those communities. This is demonstrable through many, many studies
  • Because of that targeted harassment, women especially often forgo in game comms or even mask their gender, just to feel safe in these environments
  • Because of inherent biases, statements like “if they’re just as good as the men, they should be competing with them” often neglect the myriad other pressures that are put on women/non-binary folks in a competitive environment that cis-gendered men never face. Those pressures add up, and disincentivizes women/non-binary folks from participating in the competitive space
  • Creating spaces that are as free from gender based harassment and discrimination as possible are the logical first step towards building equity in the esports space.
  • Here at Blizzard, we have a phrase we often use: crawl, walk, run. In order to cultivate and foster the women’s competitive scene within the Overwatch community, we need to create spaces, develop programs, and foster community efforts towards building that talent pool up and increasing their visibility and stature within the community

I’d also like to quash the fallacy of “lost opportunity” here. Community events like the empowerment cup do not take any opportunity away from any player who identifies as a man. These events likely wouldn’t exist without the clear need to do so from a community standpoint.

I know that many of you, like me, were attracted to Overwatch because of the world it promises: hopeful, optimistic, and inclusive. I would encourage anyone who may have disgruntled feelings about this topic to employ empathy, and understand that the best thing you can do to support equity in our space is to be enthusiastic fans and to take the competition in any future women or non-binary only events as seriously as you would other community tournaments, or even Contenders.

This is how we build towards a future where we see equitable representation at the highest levels of play.


Given the acknowledgment of the harassment faced are there any steps being taken to mitigate and prevent the harassment in game of said players?

Even as someone not in one of the groups listed I have seen said harassment way too often secondhand whenever a female voice is heard on the mic. This has lead many to not feel comfortable communicating in game which obviously does not align with long-term goals for Overwatch.

We’re working on improving our anti-toxicity measures for the future. We’ll definitely update everyone when we have details ready to share.


Might I recommend what Rainbow Six Siege is trying to do?

ht tps://

From what it sounds like, this system will also take a player’s actions into consideration. Things like intentional view blocking and I’m assuming T-bagging. The game will then punish toxic players based on this.

The most interesting thing is that the game will flash a warning if you’re engaging in toxic behavior while not outright punishing you instantly. This means if you’re accidentally being disruptive, but otherwise have a good reputation, you don’t have to worry about being instantly treated like your toxic.

This? This is the topic CM’s come on here to address? Are you kidding me? What a joke man.


Gender also plays a role in the types of harassment people are likely to encounter online. Overall, men are somewhat more likely than women to say they have experienced any form of harassment online (43% vs. 38%), but similar shares of men and women have faced more severe forms of this kind of abuse. There are also differences across individual types of online harassment in the types of negative incidents they have personally encountered online. Some 35% of men say they have been called an offensive name versus 26% of women, and being physically threatened online is more common occurrence for men rather than women (16% vs. 11%).


I’d say this is the perfect thread for the CM to come and address. What in the world would a Community Manager be here for if its not managing community discussions?


I saw this study last year, and there’s a few aspects of it you’re neglecting to share here:

  • This study covered all kinds of online interactions, including social media platforms
  • The statistics that delve specifically into online games paint a starkly different picture
  • This study does not account for the overwhelming number of women who choose to not communicate via in-game communication methods, which leads to a bit of confirmation bias
  • The study also indicates that the reported instances of women being harassed online has more than doubled since 2017

I would strongly encourage anyone sharing polls and statistics to avoid cherry picking only the specific blurbs that defend your viewpoint. This topic is far more complex than a single statistic.


There are more pressing matters than a tournament that extremely few of us are actually participating in. You know, like the extremely prolonged lack of content stretching over a span of years?

Look, I usually agree with your posts, but I’m gonna hard disagree here. Personally, I don’t care about a tournament that only women play in. That’s great! They deserve to be able to play in an environment where they can feel like they can speak in comms freely and not be harassed. But that’s not content, and literally anything other than content (or information about upcoming content) I do not care about.


They can’t comment on OW2 threads, they are not going to comment in these balance threads, so what does that leave?

If anything this is the perfect thread for a CM to reply in as the way the community interacts is directly related to his job.


No, they won’t comment on Overwatch 2 threads. Not can’t. Won’t.


The team is very aware of the current conversation happening here on the forums. When we have more to share regarding those other matters you’re alluding to, we will.

Keep in mind that addressing the biggest concerns on the forums (namely OW2 WHEN, game updates WHEN?) require massive coordination, both in terms of development, publishing, and approvals all the way up the chain.

I know that it stinks to want more information, any information, and for us to not have anything to say in the moment. We want to share what we’re working on with you, and we want to do it in a way that’s respectful of the work the team is doing behind the scenes, and will leave all of you feeling informed, and brought along for the journey.


thats a tough promise to take seriously atm.


No can’t. Can’t is there correct word. They cannot announce anything unless cleared to do so. So short of going into every thread asking about OW2 and linking Ybarra’s twitter reply there is nothing they can say.

This they can talk about. Fostering and improving community interaction is an aspect of their job. Talking about the problems that exist can be domestic without needing to go up the chain.


He wasn’t just talking about the tourney, he was talking about that and inclusivity as it relates to the tourney and the community. I was initially concerned because, as I said

But then Andy said

And actually went on to discuss things in a way that made sense to me. This is incredibly important because, often times, I usually get the typical “believe this or you’re a bigot!” routine, so its refreshing to see someone actually trying to explain the company’s POV on this in a way that doesn’t seem like corporate spinning.

For example, do you remember Bully Hunters? That was such a travesty that I actually think it harms women. The data they used was faulty as they extrapolated a large number from a very small sample size.

In this case, Blizzards motivations are a simple as “They’re organizing this thing, lets give them a platform”.

Maybe that doesn’t matter to you, and as you said

But you need to consider that its not just the CM’s job to exclusively drop the next content update to get you hyped for games. I’d be less cynical and less willing to call everything corporate virtue signaling if there were more CMs like Andy, who’s willing to actually hop in to a discussion like this and type at length when it matters.

It’s can’t.

For Jodie or I to come to the forums and provide any additional insight that’s not been thoroughly vetted and approved by the teams would be disrespectful to the work of the hundreds of people behind our announcements


Two thoughts:

  1. THANK YOU (not sarcasm) for saying something, literally anything, on this. I genuinely appreciate it, and though I have been extremely critical recently, please know it comes from a place of true and authentic love for the universe and game you and your team have created.

  2. I understand and hear what you’re saying, but I am so beyond sick and tired of the “we can’t wait to share more with you when the time is right” rhetoric. When is the time going to be right? We haven’t heard a scrap of real information on the PvE in over a year, and the PvP for 6 months. So please pardon me if I’ve lost the faith, but I simply have.