Game Center BFA and Librarian Lucy Ungaro organized and lead a weekly event in the NYU Game Center Open Library called Overwatch D.Vas, below is a guest post on her experience developing an Overwatch community here in the Library.
Hi! My name is Lucy Ungaro, I’m a senior in the Game Design BFA program and a librarian at the NYU Game Center. This semester, my main project in the Library was running a club for Overwatch players who identify as women or non-binary that I called “Overwatch D.Vas”. It just concluded this week, and will continue under another Librarian’s leadership after I graduate in May.
The club’s most important purpose, regardless of the number of people (anywhere from 4-8 depending on the day), was to create a space where people could play together without fear of being verbally assaulted for having a feminine voice. Compared to a lot of other competitive game communities out there, Overwatch is…not terrible. But the fact that my friends and I have to strategize ways to combat sexual harassment in the game is more than enough reason for a club like this to exist.
Another thing that was important to me was making the club welcome to new players who were maybe interested in the game, but worried about the learning curve, or, again, the people. A lot of the players who came had never played the game before, or barely played it. One of the new players was there to do an ethnography for class, but became a big part of the club, and loved the game so much that she ended up buying it. Another player has adored the game since launch, but doesn’t have a device she can play on. Two of the players came because they missed the community they had in the library before a lot of their friends graduated. The most loyal player, who came every week without fail and posted frequently in our Facebook group, helped to bring us all together.
The club eventually found its personality. The last meeting especially felt like we really had a community. We joked around and teased each other, while playing AI matches to accommodate the new players. Every time we won a match, we would instantly and simultaneously erupt in cheers, even if it was easy, but especially if it was difficult.
One of us was playing Genji and delving into a group of enemies with only 5 health. When I saw it happen, I assumed she was a goner. Instead she always incredibly managed to make it out alive, so we we started calling her our “Pro Genji”, like the meme. Whenever things went wrong we’d call on our Pro-Genji to do some miracle work. We began to fall into patterns of play, as well. I would always play healer with Marlon, Chelsea and Mila would play tank, Chabelly, Desi and Noelle would play DPS. When our roles were defined we started doing better and working like a cohesive team.
From just February to May, the community grew to be intimate, hilarious, loving, and welcoming: the best way to play Overwatch. Thank you to all my D.Vas!