Winston’s new emote wouldn’t exist if a deaf Overwatch fan hadn’t invented it
If you noticed that in addition to all the other Winter Wonderland skins and emotes Winston got a neat sign language emote, then you have Danik Soudakoff to thank for it. The latest Overwatch event brought with it this emote, which is both simple and profound — Winston says Hello, my name is in American Sign Language, followed by the ASL shortcut that Soudakoff and his interpreter came up with to identify Winston. This makes watching Overwatch League easier for Soudakoff, who is deaf and as a result sometimes had trouble following the extremely sound-cue based gameplay, not to mention how much narration and color commentary the League relies on. The story of the signs they came up with was featured by the League in their Watchpoint series.
Rather than signing each individual letter in the character’s names, Soudakoff came up with gestures based on the character in question — in Winston’s case, the arm swings he performs during his Primal Rage ultimate. What’s excellent here is that since Soudakoff came up with shorthand signs for other characters — Widowmaker and Mercy are mentioned in the Dot Esports article — we could see other characters get ASL emotes as well. Perhaps Blizzard could get Soudakoff to help them make a sign for every single character, and perhaps even work some more visual-based cues into the game to make following it easier for deaf fans like him. There are already inquiries about incorporating a sign emote for Tracer, but using the British Sign Language variant instead of the ASL one.
It’s pretty cool to actually have a character introduce himself in ASL like this. It would be even cooler if more did it, that’s all I’m saying. It would also be cool to give the deaf and hard of hearing community the option to choose to watch Overwatch League games with an interpreter converting their speech to sign language in addition to the captioning they already provide. Since the League already offers the service at the games, it would just be a matter of adding a camera. Whatever they do to make the game more accessible, this is a nice emote and it shows they’re at least thinking about it.
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