Overwatch. Singlish. Two very different terms. Two words that you’ll not associate with each other.
And yet incredibly, they have become related.
In a sense.
See, apparently, US gaming company Blizzard Entertainment has introduced a playable robot character into Overwatch…
And it’s none other than a Southeast Asian prototype, that speaks in Singlish to boot.
So if you’ve always found yourself uttering Singaporean slangs while playing the game, you’ll be contented to know that from hereon…
Your character will be speaking them for you.
Developer Adds a Character That Speaks Singlish in Popular Video Game, Overwatch
According to South China Morning Post (SCMP), Blizzard Entertainment has added Echo, the Singlish-speaking Southeast Asian robot, into Overwatch’s servers, four years after the game’s initial launch in 2016.
Lest you’re unaware (for International readers), Singlish is the English-based creole that’s spoken by Singaporeans.
Yep, that’s Singlish.
Apparently, Echo is able to speak numerous Singlish terms/phrases, such as “Alamak!”, “Can or not?”, “Jialat!” and more.
According to the character’s background history, Echo was made by Dr Mina Liao, a fictional Singaporean scientist who’s one of the founders of Overwatch.
While creating the prototype, Liao included artificial intelligence programming, thus granting Echo the ability to learn from observation.
After Liao was killed in an attack, Echo was placed in quarantine (such a coincidence, huh?), and was thus only introduced four years after the game’s launch.
You can watch Echo in action down below (both physically and verbally):
But… Jialat Sia
As you might be aware of, Singaporeans are a pretty tough crowd to please.
But in this case, their anguish over Echo’s pronunciation may not exactly be without reason.
So if you’ve watched the video, you might have noticed how the colloquial terms are enunciated with an undeniable Western accent.
And if you’ve indeed noticed it, don’t worry; you’re not hallucinating audio-wise.
Apparently, the character was voiced by British voice actor Jeannie Bolet, who’s of French, Chinese and Vietnamese descent.
And the pronunciation seems to have indeed been westernised, a notion that has not gone down well with users.
In fact, Singaporean online sports company ONE Esports was so triggered that it actually released a Youtube video rectifying Echo’s speech patterns.
With other Youtube channels following suit.
And one Internet user concurred, commenting that the voice was “cringe”, and that Blizzard did a “terrible job”.
And It Has Since Been… Corrected
Apparently, Netizens proved so anguished by Echo’s ‘Westernised Singlish’, that Blizzard felt the need to correct things.
According to SCMP, the company has since rectified Echo’s pronunciation of the colloquial terms, having re-recorded the robot’s voice in August to make it sound more authentically Singaporean.
Well, at least we now know that Blizzard actually listens to its players, I guess.
Southeast Asian Influence
According to SCMP, more characters with Southeast Asian origins are appearing in video games.
For instance, Malaysian influencer and fashion lover Noor has joined Ubisoft’s new battle royale game, Hyper Scape. The character comes from Pekan, Malaysia, and is named Noor Azimah Yusof.
She’s 23 years of age and wears a head covering like a turban.
We’ve seen our country taking up a ‘leading role’ for Hollywood film Hitman: Agent 47, which is based on a video game series.
And now, we have a character speaking Singaporean colloquial terms in an internationally-recognised game.
Our country may have proven its worth in multiple commercial sectors, but it’s gratifying to see that it’s being recognised in the entertainment industry as well.
For so long, Singapore has been the go-to country for stability and riches. But given the ongoing trend…
It may not be that far-fetched an idea to see it becoming the go-to country for fun and games too.