Don’t think politics belong in games? Maybe your problem is a mangled understanding of what politics is. That’s the gist of a blog piece out yesterday from Greg “Ghostcrawler” Street, whom many MMO players will likely remember from his long stint as World of Warcraft’s lead systems designer, though now he’s lead game designer over on League of Legends next door.
Street was responding to a gamer worried about his belief that “Liberal politics is forcing [its] way into games.” “I just want to enjoy a fun experience, or take part of someone’s artistic vision,” the player wrote, seeking validation for his worries.
Street agreed that he would be annoyed if League of Legends “tried to sneak in lessons on how taxes should be structured, or opinions on health care, or state versus federal power” as that would be too political. But the mere presence or acknowledgement of diversity? That’s not politics, he argues — that’s reality.
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
) 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.”
Just because Greg “Ghostcrawler” Street is over with the League of Legends team these days doesn’t mean that he has stopped talking about World of Warcraft. The former Blizzard developer was asked by a fan to shed some light on the origins of the Death Knight class design in Wrath of the Lich King, and he responded by sharing seven or so design goals that he and the team had at the time.
The full list is too large to quote verbatim, but it is quite interesting to read and learn about some of the difficult choices that the team had to make and how it was experimenting with various skills and mechanics that either didn’t make the live game or no longer exist.
“There was a point where you could build a DK with something like 16 different diseases, which were all just generic, though there were abilities that scaled with disease count,” Street wrote. “Somewhere along the way we had the idea to just compress those down to two (Frost Fever and Blood Plague) and try and theme them more strongly. ”
It’s a great read, but it doesn’t let him off the hook: Ghostcrawler still owes us a pony.