League of Legends to remove pole dancing from Xmas Katarina skin

A champion from League of Legends: the long red haired Katarina in a skimpy Santa suit, holding two blades in her lands and clinging to a candy cane with her legs as if it were a stripper pole.

Riot Games has released their new set of exclusive holiday champion skins on the Public Beta Realm this week, and it included a special Christmas Katarina skin.  Katarina is an assassin, one of the more iconic and most-cosplayed champions within League of Legends.  This skin puts her in a short little Santa dress, the kind that every MMO in existence dresses the female characters in around the holiday season.

But more than one player noticed that her recall animation (the anim that plays while Katarina goes back to base) is her whipping out a candy cane and swinging around it in stripper pole fashion.  And several of these players spoke out against it on the League of Legends forums:

I don’t care that she’s dressed like a hooker, I don’t care that she has a tacky hair color (IMHO). But the stripper pole? C’mon, Riot. That is WAY over the top. Until now, the sexy skins have been plentiful but somewhat tame, and this one is just a bit too much. I will happily buy this skin if (AND ONLY IF) they take out the stripper pole recall animation. There’s no reason for it at all. The skin can stand on it’s own apart from that.

Let’s show Riot that there is a point where it becomes too raunchy. A significant amount of sexy is acceptable, but lets keep these Trampion skins to a minimum.

And:

This. It’s obviously yet another in a long line of “for the entertainment of our teenage boy audience” skins, so it’s ridiculous to assert that it’s all about women’s rights or exercise.

Frankly, I think I’ve about had it with Riot’s attitude toward women. I’ve spent a significant amount of money on this game, but when paying customers complain about the way that women are depicted, it’s nothing but nice-sounding things about how they want a variety in design, then more skins with scantily-clad females dancing and talking in very suggestive ways.

If Riot wants to keep designing the game for insecure teenage boys, go for it, I’ll take my money elsewhere.

Thankfully Riot have listened, and the pole dancing recall animation will be removed before this champion skin is ever released and purchasable in the live game.  Senior Product Manager Volibar says:

You’re right. This doesn’t really fit with her thematically, and it’s too much. We’ll be removing it.

I’m always happy to hear when a developer listens to player feedback and admits their mistakes.  I’m not going to give them a pass for coming up with this idea in the first place though — how does this even make it past that many eyes and onto the test realm?  Why is it the player’s responsibility to point out sexist character designs when Riot themselves have acknowledged their own failures in the past and offered up a commitment to better representation of women in their game?

If you want to watch the animation of Xmas Katarina, here it is on YouTube:

About Tami Baribeau

Lead Editor and co-founder of The Border House, feminist, gamer, lover of social media, technology, and virtual worlds. Pansexual, equestrian, dog lover, social game studio director and producer. Email me here and follow me on Twitter!
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7 Responses to League of Legends to remove pole dancing from Xmas Katarina skin

  1. Doone says:

    Everytime I get a little faith in Riot they take 2 steps back. I’m getting skeptical about their sincerity. I don’t think they understand the complaints. I think they do what they want and then do damage control, saying what people want to hear after the complaints.

    • Llamaentity says:

      Agreed :C It tends to just feel like they’re throwing a bone (if that) every now and then to ease minds :x

    • Korva says:

      Yep. In my opinion, there was absolutely nothing in the linked post about “acknowledging their failures” post that sounded remotely sincere or like they actually understood the issue. Just handwaving and making excuses. So does the release of a pole dancer actually surprise anyone at all?

      This kind of putrid bullshit is exactly the reason why I am NOT touching this game or genre with a ten-foot rusty halberd, period.

    • Chris Smith says:

      Agreed, 100%.

  2. Jesse says:

    I have absolutely no faith in any gaming company until they actually prove they’re not jerks. These companies don’t have qualified people on staff going over content to make sure it’s not offensive, they don’t actually care about offending people at all. They can just clean up something if it becomes a big deal, if it doesn’t they leave it as is. I stopped playing LoL because, like virtually all on-line games, I got tired of the rampant bigotry and filth spewing from players mouths every game. If they can’t even deal with that they’re not going to even think about whether or not their character models are inappropriate. They don’t care, period. If they did they would have already realized how ludicrous many of their character models are before ever even releasing the game.

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