Overwatch 2’s Junker Queen is female representation in gaming done right

Junker Queen female representationBlizzard Entertainment

Overwatch 2’s Junker Queen, and the game’s generally diverse hero roster, are inspiring inclusions and an example of just how far the gaming space has come in regards to nuanced and fully-realized female representation and diversity in their characters.

As a queer female-identifying gamer, finding video game characters that I can relate to hasn’t been the easiest thing in the world. More often than not, when I did find a female character in a game that was compelling, they were either in the game for a very limited amount of time or oversexualized.

Overwatch may not be perfect, but it has created a roster of diverse characters in a way many other games are still unable to do. It reflects the gaming community as a whole. It has been documented for years now that the ratio of female and male gamers is almost one-to-one. However, developers are still struggling to catch up when it comes to making sure their characters embody who it is by picking up the controllers.

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While I’m not the biggest online multiplayer gamer, Overwatch appealed to me from the early days because of how different and real their characters were. Not only do they have female characters, characters of color and LGBTQ+ heroes, Overwatch has playable figures who are more than just the typical body type and characterization I’ve come to expect from diverse characters.

Junker Queen female representation heroes imageBlizzard Entertainment
The three new heroes added for Overwatch 2 are all female-presenting.

Overwatch 2 adds even more diversity to its roster

The new release of Overwatch 2 has built upon the diverse roster even more so, with the likes of Junker Queen, Sojourn, and Kiriko all great examples of the way female-presenting characters have evolved to be more than just one body type, one complexion, and one personality. 

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In particular, Junker Queen has been a character that, from initial community response, is resonating with the masses. For voice actor Leah de Niese, taking on the role and having her character be more than just a one dimensional figure was something of great importance.

“It’s wild,” de Niese told Dexerto. “I really do have a very strong goal as an artist. To represent women, to be a strong female voice. That has just become more and more prominent for me in the last 5-10 years, to the point where I’m sort of switching off when things are very male-heavy, from a male lens.” 

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“So to come into this world, where the gender divide could be seen as being there, female characters, just gotta get those big boobs on them and make them look sexy.”

Unfortunately, this concern of de Niese isn’t unwarranted. Some of the oldest and more well known female characters in gaming have been oversezualized for decades. Tomb Raider’s Lara Croft is the most obvious example.

Junker Queen female representation Lara CroftSquare Enix
Lara Croft has a checkered history when it comes to her portrayal in the gaming space.

The recent trilogy did a fantastic job of stripping away those preconceived notions and portraying the character in a new light, but older gaming fans will still know her for her tiny shorts and, thanks to some great old school graphics, triangular breasts.

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For de Niese, having the chance to portray a female-identifying character that breaks this mold.

“Junker Queen, she’s such an important female. That strength she has, and she’s sexy, we can be strong and sexy. And she’s rough as guts, she smashes any male that comes across her path. So that’s a really exciting position for me to be in, giving a voice to strong women.”

Junker Queen is much more than a stereotypical female character

To de Niese’s point, that is part of what is so exciting about having a character like Junker Queen be in many ways one of the new biggest faces of Overwatch 2. She’s tough and more masculine presenting, but also a character that embodies and owns her femininity. 

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As someone who has always been more masculine presenting myself, I felt that even when I did have the chance to play as a female character I was still unable to relate to them. What’s more, the Overwatch 2 community is loving Junker Queen — a character many had lofty expectations for given her importance in lore. Having overtly sexualized female characters paired up with male characters in appropriate clothing always sent me the wrong message about being a woman in the gaming space. Especially when considering that these characters were largely created and designed by men

So why is it that the gaming space still struggles with diversity? It’s important to note that when we have this discussion, not all video game franchises are being targeted. As well as Overwatch, series such as Life is Strange, The Last of Us, Horizon Zero Dawn, and Valorant all have a great roster of female characters.

Junker Queen in overwatch 2Blizzard
Junker Queen builds on Overwatch 2’s already diverse roster.

However, the issue the gaming space seems to still be grappling with is how older gaming franchises evolve into a more inclusive space. The controversy surrounding GTA 6’s female protagonist — and the sexist comments made in response to that leak — are an example of how an older and more established gaming series is trying to be better but is being held back by fans and gamers.

Thankfully, Overwatch doesn’t have that issue and from the sounds of it, a character like Junker Queen is set to play a big part in the sequel going forward.

“Of course you can expect more,” concluded de Niese. “The Queen is such a huge, exciting part of Overwatch 2. Not to say the other heroes aren’t, we all are, but we’re so excited for what we’ve got in store for the queen.”