Heavy but real.
DPS Only is a particularly timely graphic novel that directly applies to the plight of many women in gaming or those who wish to have a future in the gaming sphere. Vicky is incredibly introverted and lives in the shadow of her brother, Virgil. Virgil is a highly famous and successful e-sports player whose life dominates hers in every possible way. To have some semblance of personal identity, Vicky creates her profile under the name Xenith Orion to play the same game her brother does. All these years of watching him and quietly playing for fun pay off, and Vicky is a knockout talent.
Vicky is finally making friends and starting to step into her own life when a gaming tournament is announced. Of course, her brother is the show’s star, but Vicky’s friends convince her to join their team for the tournament. Through the novel, Vicky deals with a tremendous amount of sexism in the industry, as no one knows the player behind the new star in e-sports is a woman, and she is harassed. Her brother is also a massive piece of shit, for reasons explained to a degree, but even in his need to protect his sister, he falls into the trap of becoming an abuser himself.
This is a far heavier graphic novel than I initially expected. Aside from watching Twitch streams, I am not involved in the gaming world, but hearing Vicky’s struggles lined up entirely with the same complaints I’ve heard from female streamers, I follow. The narcissism of Virgil is ridiculous, and I spent most of the book wishing I could jump inside it, not to become a gaming champ but to punch Virgil in the face repeatedly. Though the family comes together near the end, hoping to move forward, I genuinely think Virgil got off far too lightly for his actions, and the forgiveness he experiences is another cog in the wheel of abuse. That being said, this was an extraordinary graphic novel with gorgeous art and emotional depth.
Title: DPS Only!
Author: Xiao Tong Kong
Three Descriptors: Emotional, Authentic, Character-Driven
Don’t Read the Comments by Eric Smith
Awkward by Svetlana Chmakova
Kimi Ni Todoke by Karuho Shiina
Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong by Prudence Shen
Belle of the Ball by Mari Costa