What a Bunch of D.Vas

Sticker design created by For D.Va

If you have ever played Blizzard’s Overwatch then the sassy looking rabbit on the left should be very familiar to you. It is the symbol of everybody’s favorite gaming teen, D.Va. If a lot of the words you just read don’t make much sense, let me take a moment to catch you up to speed.

Overwatch is a multiplayer video game that was created by the developer Blizzard (the same folks who made World of Warcraft). One of the biggest features of Overwatch is its extremely diverse cast of characters. Players of the game can choose to play as heroes or villains from numerous backgrounds. A few examples being an American bandit turned cowboy hero, an Egyptian security chief in armor that grants her flight, and of course a Korean teenage gaming prodigy who does battle in a mecha (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mecha).

That last character goes by D.Va and her role has reached beyond the game of Overwatch. She has become an inspiration. D.Va helped bring to life an organization called For D.Va (The National D.Va Association). They are a South Korea based group that is doing what they can to fight for equality in the world of gaming (https://national-dva-association.tumblr.com/).

A few weeks ago when millions around the world took to the streets for the Women’s March, For D.Va was there. They were marching through the streets with the Women’s March of Seoul waving a large flag that sported D.Va’s insignia. The flag was noticed in pictures by many in the gaming community and the group became known outside of Korea.

In South Korea, women in the gaming community face a great deal of sexism. This is unfortunately the case in many countries across the world. The gaming industry is one that is mostly dominated by men at just about every layer; from those who are creating the games down to the players and sometimes even the characters in the games themselves. There are countless stories on gaming forums, and other such message boards, of women who don’t reveal their gender while playing games to avoid the harassment of male players. And of course there is the infamous Gamergate controversy.

Women have been facing degradation in the world of gaming for a long time. I believe that within the games themselves things have slightly improved. There seem to be more strong female characters across the board in recent times. Lara Croft has evolved from the days of running through the jungle in skimpy outfits. The Tomb Raider games have become very story heavy with a fully flushed out Lara at their center (wearing climate appropriate clothing). Role-playing games, such as Mass Effect and Fallout, allow players to create their own female characters. And there is Overwatch with its roster full of diverse female characters, D.Va among them.

Games like Overwatch are paving the way for a better inclusion of women within games. And organizations like For D.Va are paving the way for a better inclusion of women on the outside of those games. Maybe other branches of For D.Va will pop up across the world now that they have been seen internationally. Whether or not that happens it is important for their message to spread. And it is our job to help it along the way. Games are made for everyone. They aren’t meant to be played by just men. They are just meant to be played.