22 September 2017
An interesting thing happened when Overwatch was first revealed: a bunch of relatively unknown voice actors suddenly became celebrities – and with good reason! The greatest strength of Overwatch is its brilliant and diverse cast of interesting characters, whose voices and catchphrases are a constant in each match. The community is active and passionate, generating tonnes of memes, fan art, stories, and tonnes of cosplay. Each panel related to the game becomes like a mini-con all its own and the panel with Charlet Chung who voices D.Va was no different. It was a warm, fun, fan event that felt both intimate due to the small room and tremendously communal, given the shared love of the property and in-jokes shared by panelists and audience alike. A perfect way for fans to connect deeper to one of their favorite games and a true highlight of the Fan Expo experience.
- It’s always rare to get star-struck by the interviewer as well as the interviewee, but that was definitely the case here, as the panel was moderated by Sam Maggs, assistant writer at BioWare and former editor of The Mary Sue. A great voice in the fan sphere and an advocate and inspiration in a male-dominated field, it was super cool to see her and Chung nerding out over each others’ work onstage.
- As Chung is still a relatively new star, we got her origin story: she started out aiming for a news anchor position, but quickly found that she preferred voice acting (luckily for us)
- Jokingly she then shifted gears into talking about Overwatch, “That little indie game we’re trying to promote…” D.Va, for the non-Overwatch crowd, is a South Korean former pro-gamer who now pilots a mech suit as part of the Overwatch team: when the call went out, it was for a K-Pop star. Chung was worried at first, as she doesn’t have a good singing voice, so she went in with a diva attitude for the character, not worrying about what they wanted, but instead giving the team what she wanted to bring to the character. As luck would have it, the character was also called D.Va (she didn’t know that going in) and so she got the part.
- Fans were eager to know if Chung had any news about the game (the fandom is always hungry for news), but she said she only gets news when they’re releasing a new skin. And even then, she doesn’t necessarily know what it’ll look like, though sometimes she’s got a pretty good idea (“Happy Hallowe’en!”…so I guess we’re getting a Hallowe’en skin for D.Va, come October!)
- Chung really enjoys the redemption narrative surrounding Overwatch; I didn’t know the history behind the game beyond the fictional narrative in-game, but apparently Overwatch is built of the remnants of the cancelled massive-online-multiplayer Blizzard title Titan. She likes that the game is built of the scraps, as it were, and that the result has worked so well.
- Chung is a huge gamer herself, but prefers to play as Roadhog saying people often assume she would play Mei or D.Va, “because I’m squishy in real life, but I feel like a big squishy pig inside. If you’re Asian, you don’t need to be Genji or Hanzo.”
- Skins are a huge part of Overwatch and one particularly insightful fan asked what skin she would make: Chung has pitched a Red Riding Hood costume for D.Va herself and a Wolf skin for the mech suit. She also wants a Santa suit (“not too sexy, but just enough.”) in a reindeer mech (Maggs was understandably slightly grossed out by the idea of riding around inside a reindeer).
- In a trippy meta-moment, Chung was playing Heroes of the Storm, Blizzard’s area multiplayer game, her friend told the other players that D.Va herself was playing, but no one believed them until she did the voices. Sadly, then things got toxic as they all-too-often do for female gamers and Chung admitted she rarely goes on mic to avoid the toxicity of the online gaming community. Maggs knows this harassment all too well and Chung said she’s eternally disappointed by how much harassment Mercy players get.
- Chung and Mercy voice actor Lucie Pohl are good friends and she’s got a very supportive relationship with Fred Tatasciore (Soldier 76). At their first BlizzCon, she was a bit star-struck by him, being a big fan of Call of Duty Zombies where Tatasciore voiced Nikolai. He’s apparently a kind fatherly figure at BlizzCon and immediately put her at ease by leaning over and checking in at their first panel: “You okay? Get off my lawn.”
- A male cosplayer dressed as D.Va asked about her favorite elements of the character and Chung said she was particularly happy to see how the gender divide has collapsed to some extent in gaming; growing up in the Street Fighter II era, she always wanted to play Ryu, but was expected to play Chun Li. But now, male and female characters are played and cosplayed by both.
- A cosplayer in a very elaborate Genji costume told a very heartfelt story about meeting his girlfriend online in Overwatch and asked Chung if she had any advice for helping his girlfriend come out of her shell on mic. The Genji really wanted her to become more assertive, but Chung advised just letting her do her thing. Particularly in light of the abuse she’s experienced online, Chung said let her engage how she wants (sound advice.)
- In the most hilarious moment of the night, the Genji fell over for no reason at all and someone yelled “Need healing!” which earned the laughter and applause of the entire room. It was a truly perfect moment.
- Everyone was eager to know more about when we might see a D.Va cinematic and Chung herself has pitched one (that was rejected): she doesn’t want to be involved in conflict, she wants to be a force for reconciliation – first, she would want D.Va to have “lots of boyfriends, many boyfriends, cute boyfriends with Genji’s butt.” Then she got a bit more serious: she wants D.Va to use her strength to be a beacon of light, befriending Genji and forging closer bonds of friendship with the Japanese. She likes the idea that Genji and D.Va played in the same arcades growing up.
- Chung finished the panel on a high note admitting that her greatest joy is hunting down and killing ‘baby D.Va’ (when the mech suit is destroyed the pilot ejects). Then, in her already iconic D.Va voice she exclaimed, “Bye!” It’s hard to explain if you haven’t played the game, but there’s a real joy in hearing the lines you’re so used to live. With Overwatch’s continued popularity, I think we’ll be seeing a lot more of these actors in future. Just watch out for Roadhog – you never know who might be playing him!