No Smooching Allowed: Russia Blocks Video Game Comic Featuring Same-Sex Kiss

Photo: Gamespress / Blizzard Entertainment.

It’s not your typical case against PDA.

Multiplayer first person shooter Overwatch blew up the internet last month when their holiday-themed online comic “Overwatch: Reflections” featured iconic character Tracer kissing another woman, Emily. However, some users pointed out the comic is unreadable on the site’s Russian version.

A message displayed over the comic’s cover, translated from Russian by a Twitter user, reads: “In accordance with Russian law, we cannot share this comic with our players on territory of Russian Federation.”

In 2013, Russia passed a propaganda ban that stopped distribution of material directed at minors promoting “non-traditional sexual relations,” according to The Moscow Times and translations from Russian law. Overwatch is rated Teen by the ESRB, meaning content is “generally suitable for ages 13 and up.”

SFGN reached out to a Blizzard spokesperson for comment.

“Overwatch celebrates a unique cast of diverse heroes, each brought to life by rich histories and complex personalities,” they told SFGN. “While we often use additional media such as animated shorts and comics to further explore our heroes’ stories and provide insight into their lives, reading or watching these is not required to enjoy the game itself.”

They added: “In addition, content shared through these kinds of supporting media is not always reflected in-game. In this case, the elements of Tracer’s backstory explored in the comic are not referenced in Overwatch on any platform, and in accordance with local laws and regulations, the comic was not translated into Russian or published in Russia.”

The kiss between Tracer and Emily pointed to Blizzard’s previous claims that they would add more diversity into the game. This claim caused fan speculation on which characters would be LGBT, leading up to the big revelation of Tracer’s same-sex kiss.