Tag Archives: riot games

League of Legends’ new badass female ranger Quinn

Quinn, a league of legends character is shown drawn on a parchment paper.  She holds a large colorful bird in her right hand, and a crossbow in another.  She is fully armored.

I have talked here before about how I much I am a fan of Sr. Concept Artist for Riot Games, IronStylus.  He has shown that he acknowledges the many character design fails in League of Legends, and has a personal commitment to working on female characters that don’t fall prey to oversexualization.  His latest creation, Quinn, is a female archer who looks strong, badass, and is actually wearing reasonable armor that one would wear if they were going into battle.

I’d just like to share the text from a post from IronStylus today on the League of Legends official forums (emphasis mine):

Some quick context:

Quinn used to be a guy, then I turned her into a woman. That woman is a ranger, she’s prepared for a fight, she’s wearing thicker armor but not plate aside from key places where she would have to interact with an enemy’s face.

Quinn was not designed to be in a skin-tight outfit. That was tried, and look, again, like a woman with a cape, in a skin tight outfit, which had been worked to death by Zyra, Syndra, Elise, and Diana. She does not care about looking feminine, she cares about utility. Baggy fatigues which have hardened pockets, knee pads to dig into the ground to take a shot, no exposed flesh to take a graze.  Continue reading

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:

Riot Games confronts their problematic female character design

The logo for League of Legends with a variety of male champions standing behind it.

League of Legends is just about everywhere nowadays and the e-sports phenomenon is becoming bigger and more legitimate with every tournament.  We’ve been critical of the game in the past, but only because we’ve had some pretty devoted League of Legends players who really would love to see their game become more inclusive.  I’ve played more hours of LoL than I would like to admit, though I’ve taken a long hiatus because I grew too frustrated with the way I was treated as a player.  It’s clear to me that in order for e-sports to grow more mainstream, it’s going to have to take a step back and look at not only the toxic environment the players experience (which is being addressed) but also the sexualized female character design.

Another player felt the same way as I do, and started a thread pleading for Riot Games to pay more attention to how characters are designed.

If Riot seriously wants to attract more girls to their games, then I suggest they listen to what the few girls who do play League of Legends have to say. Have a real conversation with them. Entertain the idea that there really is a problem with how women are treated by the players, and how female champions are treated by Riot. I’d find it refreshing if a Riot employee could actually admit that there is a problem, or that I at least raise some valid points. My friend knew Pentakill Olaf was going to be used as a counterpoint to “male champions aren’t sexualized” the second she saw him. But Olaf is not aesthetically pleasing to most women. His physique still caters to the same people that Miss Fortune does. I see the argument that “This is a game. Who cares if a champion is sexy?” That’s not the issue. The problem isn’t that there is no mancandy for women to oggle over. The problem is that champions are treated differently based on whether it is male or female. Riot is completely comfortable sexifying female champion, even in cases where it isn’t actually appropriate for the character.

And Riot have responded in a big way.  There are 59 responses in this thread alone from a Riot employee addressing the player’s feedback.  Not once did I read a dismissal of the concerns.  Instead it seems like there are some real ambassadors inside the Riot studio who are fighting for a more diverse character design across the board.  From softer male characters like Varus and Vladamir, to strong female characters like Kayle.

Continue reading

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On being the “face of the community” while female

A screencap of the latest League of Legends Summoner Showcase video, showing Nikasaur on the right and a LoL logo on the left.

 

Being a woman in the game industry in a player-facing role can be absolutely terrifying.  The second players realize what you look like, you’re overwhelmed with comments from people criticizing you for your looks or complimenting you on how sexy you are.  I’ve certainly been there.

The former Community Manager in me thinks that Riot Games does an excellent job with all of their community engagement features outside of League of Legends.  They do regular videos for patch previews and champion previews, and they highlight fanart and other news with regular Summoner Showcases like this latest one.  Riot’s Community Coordinator Nika “Nikasaur” Harper is the main star of most of these videos, and every time a new one is released I dread what the commenters will say about her.  Here’s just a small taste of the comments for her latest video on either YouTube or Facebook:

I’m a straight man. I would fuck Nikasaur. – Neardrage

 

I want to see nikasaur cosplay all the lol champs.. id offer to help her get dressed.. im not selfish.. -force021

 

does this girl wash her hair? lol just saying? – GMProOG

 

she’s not even that good looking. nerds. – SexualFruiit

 

I can’t even imagine what it would be like to represent my company in a promotional video and have the comments actually be focused on the content of what I’m saying rather than the outfit I’m wearing or whether I am skinny or fat.  Nikasaur even has a fan page with over 10,000 likes, on which many of the comments are focused on her looks.  It might not get to her personally, she might never read those comments or she might have an immensely thick skin.  But all of this contributes to the systemic problem of the video game industry being dominated by men, because it’s not the most welcoming and comfortable space for a woman to be in.  It becomes tiresome to have to defend your skill or existence as a gamer — another common comment asks if Nikasaur even plays League of Legends, since she’s a GIRL and all.  We don’t play that game.

Facebook screenshot of someone saying "They could do a 5 minute vid of nothing but her standing there smilin and I would be happy."

 

Someone on Facebook says "Get rid of that girl doing the video's she's so ugly and her voice makes my brain bleed."

 

Facebook screenshot: "I want to dominate her if you know what I mean."

 

It’s this kind of thing that makes me not want to stream League of Legends videos and join the e-sports “scene” more wholeheartedly.  You don’t see these types of comments on videos that men or star in.  Maybe I’ll be able to stream on sites like Twitch.TV once women aren’t seen as commodities for the gaming community to critique and devour.  For now, I just want to tell Nikasaur that there are people who enjoy the videos because we love the game, we like the content and the production quality, and find the videos funny and entertaining.

In other League of Legends news, there is a new female Yordle support character named Lulu, and she is awesome.