Following the tragic passing of Overwatch League star Kim ‘Alarm’ Kyeong-Bo, fans want the OWL icon memorialized in-game – and here’s why Blizzard should honor it.
On November 7, 2021, it was announced that Philadelphia Fusion support and Overwatch League star, Alarm, had passed away aged 20 years old.
As one of OWL’s brightest stars both inside and outside of the game, fans were quick to suggest that Blizzard memorialize him. From renaming the Rookie of the Year award in his honor, to adding a more permanent feature in-game, it’s clear that the community wants something to recognize his achievements.
However, this series of unfortunate events comes at the worst possible time – not only because a young light has been snuffed out and a potentially legendary career brought to a premature end, but because I’m worried that we won’t see a meaningful tribute. Here’s why.
Activision Blizzard’s legal struggles
Of course, we need to address the elephant in the room: the lawsuit against Activision Blizzard for fostering a “pervasive frat-boy culture” in the work environment.
In the wake of the scandal hitting the headlines, multiple references that have been deemed inappropriate have been cleansed out of the company’s major titles. From some of the inhabitants of Azeroth’s emerald pastures to an ill-thought-out depiction of the Islamic Qur’an in Call of Duty: Vanguard, Activision Blizzard have wasted no time in expunging in-game content as it attempts to reframe its corporate image.
Alongside this, the company have confirmed that they will no longer be including references to real-life figures in their games. This fuels my concerns over whether or not we’ll see a meaningful tribute to Alarm pop up in Overwatch, or whether he’ll simply be memorialized in a video or slideshow before OWL’s Finals.
However, at this point, if you keep up with my work, you’re likely calling me a hypocrite – but don’t worry, I’m not done yet.
What’s in a name?
Some of you may remember that I argued the divisive renaming of Overwatch’s cowboy character to Cole Cassidy was a good thing – specifically because I believe naming in-game personalities after real people is bound to land you in trouble.
This, however, is a completely different story.
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Cassidy’s original namesake had very little to do with the Overwatch universe. Sure, he was based on a now-disgraced member of the development team, but he didn’t have the impact Alarm did. Alarm redefined competitive Overwatch, altering how we play both ranked and quick play on a fundamental level. He transformed what being a “support main” meant with his insane plays and flashy tricks.
Alarm was Overwatch, just as we, the players, are Overwatch. A pinnacle of the game’s community, he deserves an in-game memorial that permanently reminds us of where the game came from and, in turn, inspires us to push the FPS to its limits just like he did.
If that doesn’t deserve a tribute, then I don’t know what does.
So, how do we memorialize Alarm?
Yes, I hear you – “OK smarta**, how do we dodge around the red tape and honor Alarm then?” Well, here the red tape simply shouldn’t apply. A memorial to a 20-year-old Overwatch hero shouldn’t be constrained by the internal changes being made to absolve a company’s failings.
Alarm used to play a whole selection of supports, which is partly what made him so deadly on the battlefield. I would honor him by simply allowing players to equip a badge with his name in Hangul (김경보 – Kim Kyeong-Bo) on his signature heroes. That means Ana, Baptise, Brigitte, Moira, and Zenyatta would all be able to do this.
This could be obtainable in two ways: an Alarm-specific event that immortalizes his career by having the community play the heroes he made his name with, or alternatively, a paid option where proceeds could go to a charity of his family’s choice.
You know what, why not both? Truly, the possibilities are endless. So c’mon Blizzard, pick one.
Whether or not we see a memorial, Alarm will forever be remembered as the beating heart of Overwatch’s competitive sphere. Sure, I’d deem the decision not to add a permanent memorial an absolute disgrace on Blizzard’s part, we’ll have to wait and see what the future holds.
As the first snow falls in Korea and Alarm is laid to rest, I hope his passing inspires some meaningful action.