Today Kotaku UK published a feature by Piotr Bajda looking at the career of designer E. Daniel Arey. It's well worth a look but, if you're one of those TL;DR internet types, you may be interested in this little nugget from his time on the Overwatch team. Much of what he says about what was then called 'Project Titan' is generally known: that it was initially a project with wider scope, that was eventually scaled-back into the arena shooter we all know and love. But I've never came across the source of the game's name before.
“There were big hiccups in the project. It was a gigantic project. It was a bigger World of Warcraft type of experience that was being developed at the time.”
Arey remembers early brainstorming sessions, where Metzen and Pardo originated the idea to ditch the dystopian visions of the future so prevalent in video games. “What if we solved some of the world’s biggest problems?” He mentions the visions of the world with unlimited energy and futuristic, culturally appropriate skyscrapers rising in cities like Cairo. “It was these beautiful visions of the future where Overwatch started.” And so did the name Overwatch, as a matter of fact. “We used the word overwatch for the computer system that was watching over the world.”
If you want to read more about Overwatch and the various other projects Arey's worked on, then click on. But at least now you know where the name Overwatch originated, and it's nice that we still see the likes of Winston using some super-computer system that's presumably descended from those far-off days. In the game as it stands, Overwatch refers to what designer Jeff Kaplan has described as "something like the United Nations if it had a really crazy army with talking apes in it."