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League of Legends design director defends plans for more diversity

‘It’s just a reflection of Earth circa 2017.’

LOL Riot Games
Owen S. Good is a longtime veteran of video games writing, well known for his coverage of sports and racing games.

League of Legends’ design director said earlier this month that it’s a matter of time before the game adds an openly gay character. Choices like that don’t sit well with some of LoL’s more conservative fans, and in replying to one of them, Greg Street says the game is simply a reflection of the current world in which a lot of different people live.

Street, also known as Ghostcrawler, typically answers player questions on his personal tumblr. One gamer, calling the games development industry “far, far more Liberal than the average gamer,” said that he was worried “that liberal politics is forcing its way into games.”

Street acknowledged that the question asker probably isn't looking to have his values questioned by a piece of entertainment software he enjoys. However, "Just as you may not have the same values as a bunch of game developers living and working in California ... a lot of gamers out there may not have the same values as you do."

League of Legends' audience comprises more than 100 million players each month, worldwide.

"For some players (like me), it seems really weird when a game doesn’t acknowledge that the real world of other gamers or the fictional world of game characters are diverse places with different religions, genders, skin colors, and economic statuses," Street wrote. "Having an openly gay character or punishing a player for calling another player a racial slur doesn’t feel political to me. It’s just a reflection of Earth circa 2017."

At Game Developers Conference 2017, Street told Polygon that it was a matter of time before an openly gay character would be added to League of Legends' roster, which may be what his questioner was reacting to.

“We owe it to the players and, I think, to the world to do something like that,” Street said at GDC. “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.”

On his blog, Street told the gamer in question that his concerns of liberal proselytization would be founded if a game “loses its way and starts focusing too much on social messages at the expense of gameplay.”

"On the other hand,” Street said, “I don’t think your worry is legit, meaning I don’t think it’s fair or probably healthy, if you want to somehow wall yourself off (in a game or anywhere) from the diversity that the world offers."

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