The Case for Chromie: Why Making LGBTQIA Identities Canon in Video Games Is More Important Than Ever
We all remember the first time we played a video game and thought “This character is me!” For me, that video game was Heroes of the Storm, and that character was Chromie. On the day she was released, my friend watched me play as her and remarked, “She is so you.”
This kind of identification is very important. It’s what makes the difference between liking a game and loving it. It’s what makes us go to conventions, write up our own strategy guides, draw fanart, and pour countless hours into immaculate cosplays. In short, it’s what makes us go from merely playing a game, to having it become a part of our lives.
But for transgender individuals like myself, identification like this can be very hard to come by. You might argue that trans people aren’t a big enough market to warrant pandering to and that we should “keep politics out of video games,” but my existence is factual, not political. It also turns out that actually quite a lot of trans women play video games; we’re a demographic who are very likely to be gamers, and for that economic potential alone (even putting aside humanitarian reasons), we shouldn’t be ignored.
But despite a recent push from video game companies for increased diversity, trans identities have continued to be relegated to quirky NPC dialogues and sensationalist sidequests. Even for these, some games, like the Baldur’s Gate II expansion Siege of Dragonspear, are bombarded with negative reviews from legions of angry GamerGate dudebros.
With Chromie, Blizzard has an opportunity to bring a trans character into the mainstream. They already broke ground last Christmas with a comic confirming that Tracer, one of the main characters of their wildly successful first-person-shooter game Overwatch, is a lesbian. Nothing would make me happier than to take it one step further by confirming that Chromie is trans.
It’s already in the lore! You see, Chromie’s full name is Chronormu. She’s a bronze dragon who chooses to take the form of a female gnome. But for bronze dragons, -ormu is a suffix used exclusively for male dragons, while -ormi is used for female dragons. So Chromie’s name is certainly unusual! Unfortunately, Blizzard has never issued a statement addressing this discrepancy—they’ve simply left it up to the players to reconcile.
I’m also not the only trans woman who loves Chromie. I spoke with FerociouslySteph, a popular Heroes of the Storm streamer who mains Chromie and happens to be a trans woman, what it is about the character she loves so much. She said: “Chromie is a ferocious character that chooses to embody cuteness … It kind of echoes what I want to be … What I want to represent most in esports is femininity … as something that is strong … Like, you can be feminine AND powerful. And Chromie kind of echoes that.” She went on to lament about how while “men and women are approaching equality in our society … in general, femininity is seen as less strong than masculinity. We’re praising masculine women and we’re still shunning feminine men.” Chromie, for her, stood outside of that paradigm, and for that, she found her inspiring. She concluded by saying: “I want to be strong and feminine just like Chromie is cute and fierce!” (Faye, the only trans woman in the professional Heroes of the Storm scene, also mains Chromie.)
For me, Chromie is the perfect candidate for bringing a trans character into the gaming world. Not only is it already supported by the existing lore, but she is also beloved by trans women the world over. Making her trans identity official would help humanize trans people in the eyes of cis gamers.
The first time we meet Chromie was in the original version of World of Warcraft. Despite her dragonflight’s rules forbidding the changing of the past, she agrees to help you alter history so that the spirit of a young girl can be reunited with her father. Unfortunately, as mere humans, we cannot change the past. But with Chromie (and Blizzard’s) help, by making her trans, maybe we can change the future.
Kylie Hubbard is a writer and student living and working in New York City. She is currently a sophomore at Hunter College, majoring in Greek and Roman literature. Her hobbies include designing games, rapping over ukulele, and delving into the secrets of the universe.
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