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

By Malavika Pradeep

Published Nov 7, 2022 at 12:31 PM

Reading time: 2 minutes

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.

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