Riot Games recently introduced League of Legends players to the game’s newest champion: Gwen, a doll who fights with a giant pair of spectral scissors. While some fans are excited about her inclusion, she’s also started a debate within the community over whether or not Gwen might be too attractive. Having characters who are considered too hot might seem like a strange concern for anyone to have, but the discussions have to do with Riot’s design tendencies over time.
When it comes to gameplay, Gwen looks pretty standard for a modern top lane champion. She has powerful scissor attacks and can move swiftly. Lore-wise, she’s more complicated — Gwen was stitched together by Isolde, a Queen, who later died in a botched assassination. Isolde’s husband Viego tried to bring her back with a ritual, but things went terribly wrong. The Shadow Isles, full of ghosts and ghouls were created, and part of Isolde went into Gwen and animated the doll.
I'm always weak for a doll character pic.twitter.com/VJ2q5m3b1v— Meredith McClaren (@IniquitousFish) March 29, 2021
Some fans think that Riot haven’t gone far enough to make Gwen feel unique in such a big roster. She has a few subtle stitch marks on her arms and neck, and her expressions are quite odd since she’s not used to making them. But other than that, she looks like a pretty, slim young woman. Sure, she’s a doll, but in the gangster parlance — not an evolved toy made for children. With over 140 champions on the League roster, many of whom are young, slim women, Gwen’s big distinction is her fancy hair and big scissors.
Community artists have made suggestions on what a new, more doll-like Gwen might look like, using the original as inspiration.
The Gwen controversy is part of a larger gripe that part of the League fanbase has been nursing for some time — every recent champion is a total hottie. Viego, the aforementioned grief-stricken king, wears an open jacket that shows off his immaculate abs. Swain, the leader of the Noxian Empire, got a rework in 2018 that gave him cheekbones and a killer jaw. Rell, a tortured teen who was sent to evil Hogwarts for war crimes, doesn’t look like a traumatized 16 year old. Everyone’s weirdly attractive, like the world of Runeterra is the set of Riverdale.
Ryan “Reav3” Mireles, lead champion producer on League of Legends, dropped by Reddit to share some design insights related to Gwen, seemingly in response to some of these discussions and criticisms. According to Mireles, Gwen was designed to be more human-like in an effort keep her distinct from other members of the cast.
“We talked about this A LOT internally and we had some early versions where she was more of [an] animated doll,” he wrote in one thread. “The main reason we pivoted to the transformed doll approach was to separate her more from Shaco, as well as Orianna. So rather then having 2 animated dolls and a automaton, we have a automaton, and animated doll and a transformed doll (like Pinocchio.)”
According to Mireles, Riot is aware of fan demand for more mundane and monstrous champions. In one comment, he wrote, “While we are shifting to do less straight humans, (though this doesnt mean less humanoids, it just means we want to do more stuff like Renekton/Aatrox/Lillia as in humanoids) the effects of that shift won’t really be seen until 2022, since champ timelines are so long. And this doesnt mean we don’t want to make creatures anymore, we do, it just doesnt mean we plan on suddenly making tons of creatures, just less pure humans.”
More details about Gwen, including the specifics of her kit, are forthcoming. While she’s still being tested, it’s unlikely Riot will make major changes to her design.