League of Legends on LGBT representation and pro team mistreatment allegations

League of Legends will probably introduce non-straight characters eventually, a new interview on Polygon with Riot Games’ Greg Street suggests. The publication asked Street questions about LGBT representation during GDC 2017, noting that Blizzard’s Overwatch (particularly Tracer) has proven that it’s a hot topic and something millions of gamers want to see. League of Legends currently has over 130 characters to Overwatch’s 24, but Street says that Riot has to be careful what it adds lest one region or another blockade the game.

“We owe it to the players and, I think, to the world to do something like that. […] What I don’t want to do is be like, ‘Okay, team, next character, whatever you do, has to be lesbian.’ I don’t think we’ll end up with something good there…. From the beginning, it has to be the character’s identity. I’m sure we’ll do it at some point. I don’t know which character or when it will happen.”

If and when it does happen, Street says, it’ll likely be in “storytelling outside the game.”

In other League of Legends news, Kotaku has a new piece out on Tainted Minds, a top Aussie LoL pro team that is apparently imploding over claims that their team house — the literal building they live in while training — is disgusting. Players claim the house had no AC, suffered multiple sanitation and safety problems (including mold), lacked computers and reliable internet, and had no functional shower. Apparently, the team manager did their laundry — until they stopped paying her — and the house has no working laundry machines either. The situation forced team members to camp out in internet cafes to practice, and as stipends and fees began to go unpaid, players — and the coach — started to quit one by one.

It might be tempting to blame the team owners for the problems, but the players suggest Riot ignored their complaints too, in one case alleging a clear conflict of interest. Yesterday, however, Riot denied knowing about the safety issues and unpaid wages and essentially deflecting responsibility, saying that when living standard complaints had been lodged, Riot recommended first dispute resolution and then that participants seek legal advice. Riot also claims that its contracts cover housing occupancy but not general living standards for the pro players (whose performance, y’know, makes Riot a truckton of money).

Source: Polygon, Kotaku
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Valen Sinclair
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Valen Sinclair

“We owe it to the world to do something like that.” Really? It’s…League of Legends. This guy talks like he’s making some sort of Martin Luther King Jr. social contribution to the world by doing this. LOL

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Jeremy Barnes

I’m confused why riot would be involved in the team issue. This sounds like something local laws would handle.

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memitim

Is LoL really the right game to approach this? Especially given its reputation for having a toxic community? There is not even a story as such, why does this even matter?

I think videogames as a whole should probably stay away from raising these kinds of topics, at least until it has more writers who are out of primary school. :P The few representations of this I have seen are painful at best and I’m not even gay…

I’m not saying they shouldn’t put LGBT characters in games but if they are all like “check out our new character!!!! he’s gay!!!!” or if the character goes to great lengths to make sure you know this….I think if I was gay I’d just find that (even more ) insulting tbh… everytime this comes up it sounds like somebody just wants to check a box of political correctness and not like they actually give a shit.

I feel a bit awkward for asking this but fuck it….Does no-one in the LGBT community actually find this crap insulting?

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Fair Mores

Why didn’t he just say that the sexual preference of LoL characters was ambiguous and up to the player to decide?

And blizzard’s over watch didn’t do anything for the LGBT community except exploit the fact that the only gay couple their players want to see is a cute thin white girl kissing another cute thin white girl. Is Mccree gay, or soldier 76? No and there is a very specific reason for that.

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CloakingDonkey .

well to be fair, fat people make terrible fighters. I’m out of breath from walking up the stairs to my appartment… running away from bullets doesn’t sound that healthy.

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CloakingDonkey .

it’s an outrage that there are no german-born half anglo-saxon half slavic, male, bisexual, with dirt blonde hair, green eyes, slightly overweight characters in video games, because these are literally the only things who make me who I am and I just don’t have any fucking empathy and can’t put myself into a character’s shoes if they don’t share all my traits that I have no control over.

Oh wait.

quark1020
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quark1020

I think you just made me realize why I prefer games that let me create my own character than premade characters. Nothing wrong with them, of course, but if it so happens I don’t care about their story, I can at least enjoy making up my own story in my head with my character in spite of the game’s story.

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CloakingDonkey .

Yep nothing wrong with that at all. I can appreciate a well-written, well-voiced character but in a RPG I’d also prefer making my own ;)

Estranged
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Estranged

Quark, I concur. Even if not RPing, I flesh out the identity of my own character. Don’t need help. Of course, that is a MMO thing, can’t imagine caring about a MOBA character. Zero persistence. The exception is I do enjoy playing some of Blizzards iconic characters in HotS.

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Utakata

You should say that 5 times out loud. O.o

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CloakingDonkey .

Why? I know how ridiculous it sounds. Which is why I’m making fun of it =)

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Utakata

That reply got you a pigtailed /upvote. :)

miol
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miol

If Riot’s pubescent devs have already such an impossible hard time trying to portray a majority (a.k.a. women) properly, is it really such a surprise of how they’re unable to handle or even consider minorities?!

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Bryan Correll

Apparently, the team manager did their laundry — until they stopped paying her —

Man, I hate it when people stop providing services just because I stop paying them.

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Utakata

I sometimes wish this subject matter would never be brought up, because it exposes the rot of a toxic community with all it’s dated and asinine issues. Then again, it needs to be brought up for this very reason. Thankfully though, some of us don’t think like that….and are quite content with the game world and all its frog thingies, green blobs and prancing men, oh my. <3

My thoughts go to that poor LoL team stuck training in that nasty shack. :(

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Wanda Clamshuckr

I cringe as well, for the same reasons. Last year, an in-game event of LGBT focus was brought up in an article and it became a horrendously contentious discussion. For the most part, I would say nothing was learned from the more conservative side. Why would a blip of an article change the mindset of someone who has lived with their prejudice for their entire lives?

Positives out of that, and this? Exposure. Maybe incremental micro layers of education in tolerance, perhaps leading to acceptance in some. If anything, it highlighted two community contributors that I will never have anything to do with again. MMO forum nemeses. How Stan Lee-esque.

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Yuri Geinish

First of all, it has nothing to do with social justice. It’s social fantasy.

Social justice is when you’re living in a card box and the other guy owns trillions of dollars just because he was born into right family. Social justice is when your wedding gets bombed into meat pulp along with one hundred of your relatives the people who did that say “oh… sorry” and just carry on. Social justice is also giving people education, medicine, food and shelter – basic needs.

Social fantasy though, is forcing gay into everything, every character in every work of art, while the reality is that gays are a minority. Wait, there’s a word for it … shaping public opinion … forcing people to think certain thoughts… ah! Propaganda. Why do some people want to represent minority everywhere and hence make it look like a majority is beyond me. I would understand if millions of gamers were gay. They are not. I could assume that those social fantasy warriors just want to look progressive and hence better than other people and that’s their reason for bringing this irrelevant topic up everywhere they can. They treat homosexual relations as a serious topic while it’s not, there are much more important things to discuss and propagate.

Why does San-Francisco have the biggest gay community in the US? Because back when you were crushing people’s lives jailing them for 25 years for being gay, US Navy used to get gay sailors off the ships without any fuss in media, court-marshall them and jail in Alcatraz. Was it anything to do with genes? No. Men, alone in confined spaces with nowhere to go, no girls around, for prolonged periods of time – it just happens naturally. To some of them, at least. Who can’t fight the urges. It’s just basic mechanics. Don’t create conditions for this stuff to happen – and it doesn’t.

Don’t get me wrong, I respect Americans on many levels. But sometimes they are like kids who get a new toy. Yesterday they’re putting gays behind bars but today they get the idea that being gay is cool, make a U-turn and start telling everyone else that THIS is a proper new way of thinking! Let’s make everybody know!!! OMG!!! What does it remind you? Vegans, perhaps? How do you know somebody is a vegan? Because in 5 minutes of meeting that person he tells you. That’s called religious consciousness. When you just jump into something and start believing in it without proper thinking and zealously defend your faith and tell everyone about it. Whatever new idea you’re told tomorrow, even if it’s another U-turn — OMG!!! I must let everyone know!!! Put it into every movie and game, because we’re in a free society!

If you want to use games to teach people things, teach something meaningful and important. Like, help each other. Be understanding, be kind. Learn to sacrifice yourself for the greater good. Learn to be reponsible for your actions, learn to care about friends and family, et cetera. What do we get instead? Mass Effect Andromeda where everyone is a woman. There are two men: your father and a squad mate. Your father dies at the beginning of the game, so one man less. You’re left with your squad mate. He’s black (of course, because EA policy). And he’s probably gay. It’s all built around policies, not real world. People do not relate to settings like that. It’s like you start a game and walk into a zoo to look at some really exotic animals that are really weird. If you want to make a game immersive, for the love of god, make something people can relate to.

I’m a programmer, 34. Been working in offices with IT people for the last 16 years. It’s hard intellectual labour. I’ve got a girl – a programmer too – on my team. I took her on the team personally, because even with a short work experience she was really good. Thinking of all the proper things, in proper ways, asking proper questions, making proper decisions. Before her, I knew one other programmer girl. She was doing C++. Really lovely gal. After a few years of such work she quit it in favour of knitting at home with her husband. Completely voluntary. And that’s in a country where education is both very good and free, so any girl who wants to do programming can learn it for free and get a very well paid job. Very few of them do. There are borders. One other girl, about ten years ago, came to an interview with me. I didn’t care she was a girl, just asked all the stuff I usually ask and she wasn’t good enough. I’ve never heard of other people in my profession that I met – not wanting to get a girl on their team. On the contrary, it’s men’s community and everyone welcomes a girl, wants a girl on the team just to cheer them up at least. Nope. They just don’t come. And then I start seeing these silly articles on InfoQ telling me I *should* have women on my team. Again, that’s forcing policies against common sense – they’re free to come, if they’re willing, but why should I be forced to hire someone just because? I need proper skills, I don’t care who gets the job done. That’s equality and justice. Forcing policies over common sense is madness.

Even though you live a so-called free society, you probably cannot make movies/games/whatever without following the LGBT/ethnic/whatever-minorities/people-you-oppressed-in-the-past policies because you will be bullied by media, activists, maybe even sued – I don’t know. Yeah, what a freedom.

Anyway, the second thing is: who cares? I mean alright, they plan on adding a gay character or something, why is this news? When you add a character you speak about their abilities, mechanics, whatever. Why stick out this aspect of the character? How is it important than any other aspect? Do you make news of it when a new character has SHORT HAIR??? OMG!!! Or, POINTY EARS!!! Or, WOW, RED BOOTS! No. It’s something irrelevant and just a part of a general, greater image. Who cares. So how is being gay important or special?

Estranged
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Estranged

Sexual orientation is not important, other than needing enough people willing to “hetero” so we can continue the human race (test tubes, I know).

You are into something on the religious/cult like attributes of identifying by your preferences in food or sex.

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Mr_Planthead

Its news because people get so bent out of shape because of it. You seem to have issues with it, if you didn’t and no one else did then it would stop being news.

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Yuri Geinish

You’re saying it’s a controversial topic. Why provoke player base when everything’s just fine as it is? Is making controversial decisions is a new win strategy? On the contrary, it puts people off.

Estranged
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Estranged

Starbucks and Target have taken a financial beating over their social agendas. I’m sure their stockholders are happy. Which, they have the legal responsibility to benefit.

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Witches

So in your opinion, are gays more or less present in society than elves?

Last time i checked elves don’t really exist but some people guarantee me there are no black elves, i guess made up species are really picky about these things and elves might get angry if you misrepresent them.

One seventh of the world’s population is from China another seventh is from India, yet i don’t see that many chinese or indian characters in games, nor do i hear anyone clamoring for a better representation of the population of the world.

These are fantasy worlds where every woman has massive boobs and runs around half naked, every guy is a bodybuilder, every one is magically polyglot, the children look after themselves, you don’t need to feed or drink in many cases, but i guess having too many LGBTQ people would be taking it too far…

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Yuri Geinish

You come to immersive games to feel something better than real life. Why spend tens of hours of gameplay looking at something unpleasant? If I’m playing warrior, I must be fit and athletic, it’s just natural. Well, I can’t actually say anything about how women like their characters. I just have no idea. I would assume that girls like to play pretty girls, not ugly girls, unless you’re trying to roleplay an undead or something. Why would they want to be, I don’t know, fat in a game? Being fat is nothing to be proud of, so naturally all bodies are “perfect”. So.. that’s reflecting player’s wishes, more or less. Do players want some characters in AAA games to be gay? I highly doubt that. Most people just don’t care, it’s irrelevant to their gameplay.

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Utakata

“Social fantasy though, is forcing gay into everything, every character in every work of art, while the reality is that gays are a minority.”

I think that’s a strawman fantasy. o.O

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Skie Blue

All this text to essentially say you have no idea what you’re talking about. LoL has 130+ characters…. Why is it such a bad thing that one might just be gay in the future?

Representation matters.

“Yesterday they’re putting gays behind bars but today they get the idea that being gay is cool, make a U-turn and start telling everyone else that THIS is a proper new way of thinking! ”

Hey, we can say the same for Germans! Nazis were killing jews, gays etc…. But look! Things changed and now they treat them like humans. The world always changes…. You act like this isn’t a natural thing.

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CloakingDonkey .

“Representation matters.”

Why?

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Yuri Geinish

That’s the thing: it’s neither bad nor good. It’s just irrelevant. I don’t understand why this is making news. Again, why special treatment for gays? Why not for stammering people? Not people with freckles? Not people who were born with just one half of the brain? Why not represent people based on politics? Why aren’t socialists represented in every movie and game – I’m sure they’re a minority? Et cetera.

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kelvar

I get it. You’re not descriminatory at all. You’re just just being logical. You’ve carefully crafted you’re argument and it is logically infallible. Why can’t everyone here just see that? You don’t want to hurt anyone, you just want what’s fair and right for the people.

There’s no arguing you from your position. To you, it doesn’t matter that gay kids who are struggling and killing themselves have no heroes – and should not have heroes. You feel a dietary choice is similar to choosing to be gay and spreading that agenda within society, and you think that’s not fair.

I know – all these people here arguing against you with their feelings… with their hearts… can’t they just see the facts as you’ve outlined them!? There’s no hate in your words… just the facts plain and true.

Reading your comments reminded me of a great bit by Patton Oswalt about two people discussing the gay agenda… propaganda if you will.

Here, I encourage you to watch it https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=K5TAUhxKGpA and see if you can figure out which of those two you are.

In the meantime, as an adult in my forties now who grew up in Catholic school… an adult who, at 10 years old lay in bed terrified I’d be going to hell because I knew then I was different…. as a kid who had no heroes, no one to look to who made it, who could be strong or as an example… as that adult now, I’ll continue to advocate for heroes for those kids, because we all need someone who is bigger, stronger than us, who can struggle, fight and win that we can identify with because it gives us hope.

That person might be in a book, game or movie… but they need to be out there. So you keep using your numbers, your logic, your carefully worded essays as a shield for your hate while the better amongst us work for a more inclusive society and give those kids … and adults, the heroes that they deserve and the hope so many of them desperately need.

Estranged
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Estranged

Gay heroes are numerous and diverse. Tim Cook is the CEO of Apple. Sir Elton John. Freddie Mercury. I could type all evening.

Are we living in a fictional universe?

In this section, I have read that 50% of the world population would kill gays and there are no gay heroes.

Next I will read is there are no female or black heroes.

Please stop the misinformation, it hurts your cause.

Now, your issue with having to worry about revealing your identity. I have the upmost empathy.

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kelvar

And so, having defended varying fictional universes so arduously, “Drainage” smiled to himself, comforted in knowing that perhaps, he saved this one from having a gay character.

Estranged
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Estranged

Kelvar – histrionics cause people to not take the issue seriously.

Antheriel
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Antheriel

What “special treatment” is implied by asking to be represented in proportion to our actual prevalence in the population? White, heterosexual cis-male, able-bodied people are represented in far greater than their proportion in the actual population. THAT is “special treatment”.

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Yuri Geinish

Like, world population? You can’t use that as an argument because they are the greater portion according to whatever the movie is about. The sky is blue, so 99% of the movies show sky as blue. The snow is white, so snow’s white in movies (except yellow snow but we won’t go there). That’s how it is. American movies are about Americans. French movies are about French. Indian movies have Indians in them. Um.. Russian movies have Russians (white; asian or slavic, depends on the plot and what part of Russia it’s taking place) people in them. The fact that somewhere in Africa there are millions of black people has no relevance to a Hollywood movie about Meg Ryan falling in love with Tom Tanks by e-mail. If it were a movie about Africa then yeah, it would make sense to show lots of Africans in it. Otherwise no.

Antheriel
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Antheriel

he sky is blue, so 99% of the movies show sky as blue. The snow is white, so snow’s white in movies (except yellow snow but we won’t go there). That’s how it is.

And 2% of the world population is Russian, and about 1-10% are gay, so about 2% of characters in things pitched to global audiences should be Russian, and 1-10% should be gay.

By your logic, a large fraction of Hollywood movies should be about gays because, well, have you been to Hollywood? Lotta gays.

Estranged
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Estranged

Far more people live outside New York and LA, but Hollywood would want us to think otherwise.

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Yuri Geinish

Only if it’s a movie about Hollywood. :-)

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Arktouros

I think it is a matter of the experiences people have. Like for me I don’t think about myself in terms of “white” or “hetero” or otherwise because, ultimately, I’ve never really been challenged to define myself. I am “just a guy.” Where as other people are consistently challenged to define themselves are more acutely aware and think in those definitions. As in they are “a gay, black female.”

These kinds of experiences that shape the way we fundamentally think rarely can be objectively turned on and off depending on the context we see them. It’s hard to think, “Oh that’s just a video game, it doesn’t matter” when it’s mattered so much throughout the rest of their lives.

At least that’s the best I could reason on why it matters to people.

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kelvar

I think that’s extermely insightful.

Line
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Line

Sailors can’t fight the urges?
You’re talking about situational homosexuality. That happens, but that’s pretty rare.
What you’re saying is that gay people do not exist in nature. Which incredibly false. And yes, there are millions of gay gamers, out of more than a billion. That’s just statistics.

What worries more is that you call propagande the appearance of minorities in general in various media… why do art represent minorities? I don’t know, maybe it doesn’t exist to serve the state? We’re not soviets. Exploring the human mind and the suffering that we go through is kind of a big deal. Not everything can be Andy Warhol.

That’s a whole lot of projection. Nobody’s forcing gay characters into videogames.
But countless are here to be sure that they never appear.
And that would still be far better than what we live in today, because the majority of the human race still treats LGBTQ people like dirt, with a not insignificant part that jsut murders them on sight.
But as you said, not a big deal, let’s teach people the real important things. Fuck you minorities, we won’t give you video games characters.
Now let’s go back to check all our media that always contain LGBTQ characters, filled with blacks, latinos and asians characters as mandated by the law.
Yeah, right.

Estranged
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Estranged

And that would still be far better than what we live in today, because the majority of the human race still treats LGBTQ people like dirt, with a not insignificant part that just murders them on sight.

Oh, what rubbish. This is a new world, but the old one is convenient.

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Yuri Geinish

How do you choose which minorities to represent and which to omit? Why gays? There are million of things that are minor in life.

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kgptzac

So you wrote a super long ass tirade against people who care about allegedly trivial things. Thanks for the amusement. :)

Anyway. Last time I checked, this game has a fantasy setting, so I don’t blame people for wanting something out of their “fantasies” implemented in this game. Hell, if a fantasy game has over 130 characters, I’d be a bit upset that none of them conforms to any of my fantasies.

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Yuri Geinish

Why gays? There are many things to explore. Sci-fi writers like Charles Stross come up with all kind of good crazy stuff that could happen in the future, like people shaping their bodies in absolutely any possible way, i.e. taking shapes of animals (a unicorn), or people completely changing gender including all the chemistry that goes with it. How would society change if you had teleporter gates across the planet? What would happen to wars, economy etc if it were so? There are so many actually interesting things waiting to be explored but all we get is gay. If this isn’t directed propaganda I don’t know what is. What next? Gay shapes in Tetris? Pacman was actually gay so let’s publish a remake of the game? Marine in Doom was gay? He killed gay demons? Mars is gay?

And again, if the argument is “minorities should be represented”, the question is why this specific minority. What happens to all the rest of the minorities in the world? Why stick out one and keep quiet on the rest? What’s so special?

Why not put stuttering people in every movie and game. So that stuttering people could, you know, have a character to identify with. People with glasses. People with missing body parts. People with a specific allergy. Whatever.

Antheriel
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Antheriel

I agree with you: when a minority group asks to be represented, from now on we’ll tell them that we can’t represent them because some other minority, which may or may not be asking to be represented, isn’t being done justice.

So let’s not show any women in any games, because there are slightly more men than women in the world. We will just explain to the women that we can’t possibly represent them because we aren’t representing stutterers.

Let’s play all games in Mandarin because that’s the majority language. People who want to play games in other languages will be politely reminded that this is not possible, because we aren’t showing enough people with peanut allergies.

The only race we’ll represent are Han Chinese, because that’s the majority race. If people of other races ask to be represented, we’ll remind them of the poor representation of people with glasses.

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Yuri Geinish

Why make stuff up? Why don’t they just show whatever the real world is? Make it actually have common sense? For example if you’re sending a space ark to a distant galaxy to colonize planets, unless you’re having babies in a lab, you logically *should* have about 50/50 of men and women, just because they need to make babies. If you’re having babies in a lab and don’t actually need sexual intercourse, then it must be based on physical capabilities of your body – and a man’s body wins there just because that’s how nature made it.

> there are slightly more men than women in the world

Doesn’t matter how many there are in the world of whom. You gotta take context into account – what community are you actually trying to show in the game. Is that an army? It’s hard physical labour, men win because of nature, end of story. Are you showing something based on Middle East? Then every woman covers her skin. Are you showing a Russian outback settlement? Then everyone hates gays. You showing Berlin? People speak German. Otherwise you’re too detached from reality and your game/movie has no immersion.

> Let’s play all games in Mandarin because that’s the majority language.
> The only race we’ll represent are Han Chinese, because that’s the majority race.

Nah, that’s your argument, not mine, and it’s incorrect.

If you were making a game where events happen in China – then it’s valid. But not like you say, no.

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Armsbend

Because LBGT people know how to organize well and get what they want. Better than any other group.

The other groups you pulled out of a hat – they do not organize to do anything.

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Yuri Geinish

Organize and do what? Coerce companies into making characters gay in their games and movies? Do as a minority tells you or get sued? How does that work?

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Armsbend

Organize and do whatever they want. I’m not getting upset about gay people like yourself – I’m just telling you like it is. There is perhaps no better community at social organizing outside of the LBGTs. They are the Black americans of the 1950/60s.

Antheriel
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Antheriel

By “coerce” you mean “ask”. Because no one is suing Riot over LGBT inclusion. That’s an “alternative fact” strawman you made up.

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Yuri Geinish

Yeah my bad, I didn’t mean that literally. But are you saying there is no pressure on movie/game makers to be politically correct? They just do all that because they really think it’s cool! Place women, gays, africans, etc wherever possible, even if goes against common sense? Like that activist dude who complained on twitter that Witcher has no black characters. It went around social networks as the best joke for a few days.

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Utakata

Why not gays, lol?

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Yuri Geinish

If it’ getting picked out of many other unrepresented groups means it’s somehow special, more important than those other groups. How?

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Utakata

Putting your sophisticated bigotry and turgid assertions aside for a bit, I have to admit out of 130 characters I know very little about… because I really don’t know the game well enough who or what it all represents in lore or characters. But out of that number a small percentage has to be living interesting lives out of internet dudebro expectations. Don’t cha think? Likely ditto for other representations. /shug

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Estranged

So, straight folks can’t live interesting lives?

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Utakata

Does that even need to be asked? o.O

Estranged
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Estranged

Dudebros can’t have interesting lives? Everyone can’t be so blessed and enlightened as to create an alternate reality.

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Utakata

Err…if you say. /shrug

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Utakata

Edit/PS: Thanks for clean up, Bree. /bows

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Mark

Who cares?

You, apparently.

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Yuri Geinish

Thank you for thorough analysis and constructive reply. I believe you’ve got all the important points of my previous post. Good job and see you again.

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Rumm

¯\_(ツ)_/¯