Overwatch 2

Aspiring to be Yourself with Grandma

Aspiring to be Yourself with Grandma

Every Pride Month, communities around the world celebrate and accentuate why it’s important to give visibility to everyone in the LGBTQ+ community. Overwatch Creator Dani Ellis— better known as Grandma—knows why Overwatch is a place where the LGBTQ+ community can feel openly represented in the game and be part of the gaming community. We talked with Grandma about why this matters, and how she expresses herself to her community on her stream at twitch.tv/grandma.

Hello Grandma! Can you introduce and share with us who you are?

My name is Grandma, though my actual name is Dani. I consider myself a veteran gamer, as I have been playing games since I was 4 years old. Aside from video games, I love to create artwork. I like drawing people, I like drawing comics, and just putting my silly thoughts out there in the world.

How did you get the name Grandma as content creator?

It’s kind of a funny story! The first person I ever watched on Twitch was Fareeha because she was a Pharah main, and my sister said, “Hey you play Pharah, I think you would really like this person.” So, I got really involved with Fareeha’s community, and after about a year I started moderating the chat for her. At the time I had a different name on Twitch; I wasn’t known as Grandma.

One day, this person was in her chat, being a bit of a jerk. I was telling him to knock it off, and he said, “Shut up you stupid kid.” Everyone else started laughing, because everyone knew that I was in my thirties, which in the gaming world is basically geriatric. Someone else said, “What you do mean ‘kid,’ she’s basically the chat grandma.” So, the nickname “chat grandma” continued, and it just kind of stuck. When I decided to start streaming, Grandma was a cute name to have, so I swapped over.

That’s a fun story! So why do you like to play Overwatch 2?

Overwatch is generally not like any game I played before. I never had any interest in playing FPS games before this. I was a story gamer, which meant I played mostly JRPGs or MOBAs. But there’s just something about Overwatch that is different. It’s the world, the story, the characters, the voice lines between characters, and the fast-paced gameplay of it all. It’s one of those games where you are bound to find a hero or playstyle that really suits you that you can’t find in other games. I think that’s really cool.

What are your favorite heroes or roles that you like to play?

Despite being named Grandma, when I first played I started as a Pharah one-trick almost up to Masters. Somewhere along the way, an Ana hit me with the Nano Boost, and I fell in love with her kit so much. Damage heroes still hold a little place in my heart as far as roles go, but nothing feels as good as hitting those sleep darts for me.

Any tips for playing Ana or any of your other favorite heroes?

Overwatch 2 is tricky because it changes a lot, and every game can be different due to how many heroes there are. So, it’s a good rule of thumb to make sure your playstyle is adaptable even if you prefer to one-trick a hero. That being said, the best advice I can give anyone is that you can only control yourself as a player; you cannot control your teammates.

It’s always better to focus on what you can do or what you could have done better. Review your VODs, admit to your mistakes, learn how you can fix them, and recognize problem situations so you can adapt to them in the moment. I think it’s not only the best way to improve, but you also spend less time being frustrated over things you don’t have control over. Everyone deals with teammates they think are bad or who perform poorly. The ones who can climb the ranks are the ones who can figure out how to work around it or just move on and focus on the next game.

Speaking of not letting the stress of competition get to you, I know you like to “Dance it Out” when you need to loosen up. For anyone who visits your channel, what is that like?

I think it really helps me. I don’t get tilted very often, but on occasion somebody tests me. Sometimes it’s me who recognizes it, and I say to myself “Hey, I need a quick little break,” and sometimes it’s someone in chat that says I need to dance it out. You just put on a really great song and dance it out, you really vibe to that tune. Usually, chat's vibing too. It releases that negative energy in a more productive way. People really liked it, so I just kept doing it.

I notice you like to have pets on your channel, would you like to introduce everyone to your pets?

Okay I have a little bit of a menagerie of pets, three to be exact. The biggest part of my stream for a long time is Sable, my hedgehog. I got her right around the pandemic, so she helped carry me through that. She’s a delightful, prickly-but-cuddly creature, and hedgehogs are so weird and cool that I just really love having her around.

The second biggest and newest addition to the stream is my cat Binx. Binx has a little cat tree and I have a little “cat cam” for her. She is delightfully weird and is a little void kitty. We recently introduced some Twitch emotes for Binx, and people love them.

And last but not least is my dog, Leeloo. I've had her for 13 years and she'd better live until she's at least 20. She doesn’t appear on stream much anymore because she doesn’t like coming up the stairs, but if I have food on stream, she’s here. So, we do get to see Leeloo on occasion.

What connections to Overwatch 2 motivate you as a person?

I have met a lot of other queer people playing Overwatch or just being part of the Overwatch community in general. I think that honestly shouldn’t be surprising, considering Tracer is the face of the game and is canonically a lesbian and in a loving relationship. The LGBTQ+ representation matters to so many people because they never see themselves in popular media like that or in video games they love. I think most people who are so used to being represented by default have a hard time understanding why representation matters, because they've never been deprived of that representation.

I think Overwatch attracts a lot of people from the LGBTQ+ community because that representation makes us feel seen and humanizes us. That’s why I’m really open about my identity on my channel. I usually go by queer, but if you run down all the labels, I am genderfluid, I am asexual, and I am bi. I am very open about these things because it helps other people and I hear it in my community all of the time, especially those who may be nervous about being open about who they are. It makes them feel that much safer to exist in the gaming space, in Overwatch, and in the world all together.

I think there is this optimistic future that Overwatch drives to portray. It’s a world where people are really open about their identities, whether it's Tracer bringing Emily to the Overwatch Holiday Party, Lifeweaver flirting with literally everybody in the spawn rooms, Pharah clearly laughing at the idea that Baptiste thought she had a crush on Cassidy because she is clearly a lesbian, or Venture just existing as a non-binary, rock-munching, little gremlin. It’s just natural.

There's a lot of media about queer struggles that many of us face in our day-to-day lives, and I think those are very important stories to tell. It lets people know we experience things like that. But stories where being LBGTQ+ is just a fact of life, and just another aspect of their identity, or they don’t constantly have to fight for equal rights or being persecuted for just existing... it feels like we don’t get those stories often enough. It’s nice to imagine a world someday where we don’t have to convince others that our existence is real and that we deserve to be here. I really like that about Overwatch, and I feel like that’s a big reason why LGBTQ+ connections in the community are so strong.

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