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‘League Of Legends’ reveals censorship of first gay black hero in some countries

Ever since its conception, League of Legends has been one of Riot Games’ juggernaut offerings to the video game industry. While the 2009 team-based strategy game has introduced gay and black characters before, its latest champion K’Sante marks a revolutionary moment for the gaming giant’s stance on race and sexuality.

Conceived as a West African-inspired tank, K’Sante is the first gay black hero to have his sexuality prominently featured in the game—even having been advertised in trailers alongside American rapper Lil Nas X.

As noted by the Washington Post, while the marketing rollout left some players suspicious of Riot Games’ intent and worried that the move could attract problematic comments from the game’s infamously-toxic community, K’Sante’s contributions to the gameplay have been warmly received.

However, the gaming giant has now admitted that it’s removed some LGBTQIA+ references in countries where gay marriage or homosexuality is illegal.

In an interview with Sky News, League of Legends executive producer Jeremy Lee admitted that he was “very proud” of the new character and that Riot Games wants “everyone who plays League of Legends to find a champion that resonates with them.” At the same time, however, he mentioned that “each region can localise and publish that story in what they feel like is best for the players.”

“Each region may publish certain aspects of the game a little bit differently to fit into the local culture,” he added. How, you ask? Lee revealed that the developer would essentially replace words such as “lover” with “partner” in countries unfriendly to LGBTQIA+ rights.

According to global public relations lead Hanna Woo, while the game itself is universally the same worldwide and features almost entirely one-to-one translations of all text, in-game characters are for players to “interpret themselves.”

“Even if it’s not explicit, even if it’s not direct, even if there are changes made, or things are just not as much in the forefront of that character’s identity, it’s like you are meant to see them,” she argued.

Meanwhile, LGBTQIA+ Twitch streamer Ben Austwick said he was “sad, yet not surprised” at the practice.

“Video games are part of culture and should be at the forefront pushing boundaries, especially in places where LGBT+ oppression is rife,” he said in the same interview with Sky News. “The straightwashing of queer characters from games in countries with a poor record of LGBT+ rights is sad and proves that there is nothing more important than making the most money.”

It should also be noted that, while Emmy-winning animated series Arcane’s main characters seem to be queer, their sexualities haven’t been explicitly confirmed by Riot Games to date.

The Arcade Vol. 4: Big Chungus in ‘MultiVersus’ and Kermit the Frog’s spidey senses are tingling

Good to see you again, fellow netizens! As for those of you who are now here, let me bid you a warm welcome to the Arcade: a space for you to soak in all the quirkiness and intrigue the world of video games has to offer. Why don’t you take a seat, save your progress, and download the latest gaming news with us? Oh, and enjoy your stay while you’re at it.

1. First look at HBO’s ‘The Last of Us’ TV show

Back in the summer of 2013, the game of a generation was released and AAA story games haven’t been the same ever since. For those of you that don’t know what I’m on going about, The Last of Us follows Joel, a survivor of a zombie apocalypse that ravaged the globe as he is tasked with escorting Ellie, a young girl who is immune to the infection and the world’s only hope at survival, across America to doctors who can prepare a vaccine. That description barely scratches the surface of how emotional and moving this game is, and it is a tale you should really experience for yourself.

But back to the topic at hand. Almost ten years on and with two remasters and a sequel to its name, it was only a matter of time before Ellie and Joel’s story made it to the big screen. Recently, a teaser has been released for HBO’s adaptation of The Last of Us, featuring The Manalorian’s Pedro Pascal as Joel, and Game of Thrones’ Bella Ramsay as Ellie. The mini-trailer was part of a collection of teasers for the services’ new season, but what little bits were shown were enticing enough. 

The clip shows Joel handing Ellie a gun, running through the streets with *redacted* (no spoilers here) in his arms as well as the introduction of Parks and Recreation’s Nick Offerman as Bill. There was no showcase of the zombies in the snippet, but we did catch a glimpse of some nasty looking fungal infection on a wall, hinting at the dire state the world is in. The advert showcases a range of new shows, but if you wish to skip to The Last of Us, then jump to the 1:43 mark.

You can expect to join Ellie and Joel on their dangerous journey in 2023.

2. Sony’s PSVR2 will release in 2023

It has been revealed that PlayStation’s new virtual reality headset, PSVR2, will be released in early 2023.

Sony’s newest VR device will feature an OLED display with 2000×2040 pixel per eye and a smooth refresh rate of 120Hz. It will also take advantage of inside out eye tracking and have 110 degrees field of view. Fancy or what?

Sony has confirmed that there will be over 20 games available at launch, and added that it’s currently developing exclusive games for the headset, including Horizon: Call of the Mountain, based on the widely popular series of the same name.

While the PSVR2 has specs that rival the Oculus Quest 2 and the Valve Index, the fact that it is a wired headset and needs a PlayStation 5 in order to function could become a hindrance, but that remains to be seen. Will you be picking up this next-gen headset?

3. ‘Genshin Impact’ new update is everything fans wanted and more

Genshin Impact developers HoYoverse have seen massive amounts of success with its online Japanese role-playing game (JRPG) in the past, but players have always felt frustrated by some aspects of the game’s open-world design.

In this newest update however, HoYoverse is right on the money and the new area of Sumeru is a delight to explore. You can zip around the canopies of Apam Woods thanks to the strategically placed four-leaf clover sigils, and when you do have to climb mountains, unlike the other areas where it was a constant race between how fast you could get to the top and your stamina bar running out, this time there are convenient stamina flowers right where you need them. It makes going back to old areas feel cumbersome and even more frustrating in comparison.

Sumeru also brings back the use of elemental puzzles, meaning you’ll be rotating your team members frequently to make use of their unique elemental abilities. For instance, by charging a green mushroom with Electro energy, you can jump far higher than if you simply just jumped on it. There is also a new element, Dendro, which can be combined with others for a variety of different effects.

Sumeru feels like a return to Genshin’s roots. The last area, Inazuma was hostile and had puzzles that were seemingly hard for no reason. Sumeru’s more relaxed approach brings back what made this game so fun to begin with: finding fascinating new sights no matter where you look.

The Sumeru update is playable now.

4. ‘Pokemon GO’ Ultra Beast horror shorts are actually terrifying

Pokémon isn’t known for its horror elements. Sure, the games have spooky bits, such as the infamous Pokémon Tower from Pokémon Red and Blue which is haunted by ghosts, but it’s not blood-curdlingly scary. However, recently, to celebrate the end of Pokémon GO Fest 2022, a three-month real-world celebration and for the addition of Sun and Moon’s Ultra Beasts in Pokémon GO, the folks at Niantic have released a series of 90-second found footage style horror shorts featuring the Ultra Beasts, and, credit where credit’s due—they’re very well done.

One of the shorts shows a Nihilego floating in a dark, quiet Japanese underpass as an onlooker films, while another—arguably the scariest one—shows a Japanese man working late in an office when the power goes out. Opening the window, he discovers a Xurkitree drinking up the power from the building, which turns around and attacks him.

While Pokémon hasn’t really done this kind of typing in the past, these shorts prove that the iconic video games and horror go quite well together. Hopefully, we’ll see something similar to this once Halloween rolls around.

5. Chinese pizza place shuts down due to ‘Genshin Impact’ collab

Genshin Impact is back in the news again, this time not for its fancy new update, but for its collaboration with a popular pizza chain.

In China, players have been able to enjoy the game in a new way, with Genshin Impact teaming up with Pizza Hut for a special collaboration. The promotion features the characters Amber and Eula wearing the American pizza delivery chain’s uniform and also includes some in-game rewards. As you can imagine, pizza plus video games is a winning combo, so much so that police have had to shut down at least one Pizza Hut restaurant over crowd safety concerns.

Due to China’s strict COVID-19 regulations, you can see why the police were forced to intervene. Fortunately, this was just a temporary closure and the store resumed normal operation once crowds had been sorted out.

Unfortunately for international players, this event is only taking place in China, but it goes to show that the popularity of the free-to-play gacha game only continues to rise.

6. ‘Rick and Morty’ in ‘God of War: Ragnarok’ promo

God of War: Ragnarok is probably one of the most anticipated games of 2022. A follow-up to 2018’s God of War, if it is anything like its predecessor, it is sure to be a massive hit. Heck, even Xbox boss Phil Spencer has said it’s the game he’s most excited to play next.

As the November release date looms, Sony has begun to release promotional material for its new title. One of the coolest pieces of teaser is a highly anticipated Rick and Morty collab.

Rick and Morty enter the nine realms and the impressionable boy is immediately attacked by some vulture-looking birds. Typical. Meanwhile, Rick ignores him and opens a chest to find the Leviathan Axe, main character Kratos’ weapon of choice in both God of War and God of War: Ragnarok. He then looks straight at the camera and says there are some “unannounced upgrades” in there too, hinting at possible new weapons for Kratos to use.

With the first episode of Rick and Morty’s sixth season airing recently, it makes perfect sense for the show to promote itself with a tie-in to one of the most popular game series around. Maybe show creator Justin Roiland should consider more video game episodes in the future?

7. Kermit the Frog is Spider-Man

After four years of being a PlayStation exclusive, Sony’s mega-hit Spider-Man game is finally available on PC. And you know what that means? Mods. You’ll get the standard mods that turn Spider-Man into Venom, or maybe Carnage, but one modder has gone above and beyond and given our web-slinging hero a crossover we never knew we needed.

Introducing the hero of Manhattan: Kermit the Frog. That’s right, our favourite green muppet now fights crime too. Modder TangoTeds is to blame—or thank—for this glorious creation. What’s even better is that the mod changes the game’s default suit, meaning from when you boot up the game, you can start beating up bad guys and zooming around New York City as the mean green frog. An iconic mod for an iconic game.

8. ‘League of Legends animated show ‘Arcane’ wins first animated Emmy

If you know anything about League of Legends (LoL) it’ll probably be its reputation for having astronomical levels of toxicity among its players. However, its foray into TV has exceeded all expectations.

Arcane, an animated show based in the LoL universe, and featuring many of its characters, has done very well for itself, becoming the first streaming series to win an Outstanding Animated Programme Emmy. The show even beat out some very well known contenders such as The Simpsons and Bob’s Burgers. A huge feat, recognised by Arcane co-creator, Christian Linke: “It’s a big deal for us as we come from video games. It’s been amazing to see the world embrace our characters and our stories.”

Riot Games, creator of LoL worked closely with Arcane animation company Fortiche, but acquired a significant non-controlling stake earlier this year. They worked together to bring character Jinx to LoL in 2013 and have several unannounced projects on top of Arcane in the works, so stay tuned. While the show may have been a huge success, there are many who would rather not see Riot Games prosper, especially due to its damaging record in regards to how women are treated in its workplace.

9. Fighting game ‘Mutliversus’ trademarks Big Chungus meme

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll be well aware that hit fighting game Multiversus has been out for quite some time and features a whole host of characters from our favourite cartoons: Jake the Dog from Adventure Time, Harley Quinn from Batman and even Ultra Instinct Shaggy, a popular meme of Shaggy from Scooby-Doo where Shaggy gets the same power as Goku from Dragon Ball Z.

Now it seems that Warner Brother Games, the creator of Multiversus, have set its sight on a new meme: Big Chungus.

For those of you who aren’t familiar, the Big Chungus meme is essentially a fat version of the iconic Looney Tunes character, Bugs Bunny, who is also a playable character in the game.

This doesn’t guarantee that Big Chungus will make into the game as a playable character, it’s possible it could be used as a purchasable skin from Bugs Bunny, or simply not used at all. But given Warner Brothers’ track record with Ultra Instinct Shaggy, I wouldn’t be surprised if a little piece of 2018 found its way into the coolest fighting game of 2022. 

10. ‘Hogwarts Legacy’ account link lets players choose house and wand before playing

Calling all Potterheads! Boy, do we have a treat for you. February 2023 will see the release of the highly anticipated Hogwarts Legacy video game. Set in Hogwarts in the 1800s, players will take on the role of a wizard student enrolling in their 5th year. During their time there, they’ll learn how to use magic and fight the evil that threatens the peace of the world.

In order to make things a little more personal for players, Hogwarts Legacy is letting those with a WB Games account link it with their Harry Potter Fan Club account. By doing this, players who have been sorted into one of the four Hogwarts houses on the Fan Club app will be able to start the game in that specific house. Additionally, if they have taken the wand quiz and discovered which type of wand would be drawn to them, their in-game character will also end up with that wand.

This is a lovely little touch that will make fans of the series enjoy their adventure at Hogwarts even more. Of course, given who wrote Harry Potter, there have been calls to boycott the game, so as to not bring any more attention to JK Rowling and her views on transgender individuals.

Hogwarts Legacy releases 10 February 2023.