The gaming giant behind industry juggernaut League Of Legends has said it is removing some references to homosexuality in countries where gay marriage or being gay is illegal.
Riot Games, which is majority owned by Chinese conglomerate Tencent, is hosting the game’s WORLDS World Championship tournament this weekend.
Speaking at the event in San Francisco, the League’s executive producer told Sky News that the developer would replace words like “lover” with “partner” in countries that are not supportive of LGBTQ+ rights.
It comes after Riot released the game’s first gay black champion (playable character), K’Sante, who has been heavily marketed in trailers featuring rapper Lil Nas X.
The music star, who is openly gay, performs at the tournament’s opening ceremony.
League is one of the most played PC games on the planet.
Players take on the role of champions in teams to work together to achieve goals, and each has a backstory composed for them by the game’s writers.
Riot ‘very proud’ of the new character
Jeremy Lee, the executive producer, told Sky News that he was “very proud” of the new character and that Riot wants “everyone who plays League Of Legends to find a champion that resonates with them”.
But he admitted that “each region can localize and publish this story in whatever way they see fit for players.”
“Each region may release certain aspects of the game a little differently to suit the local culture,” he added.
When asked if the company makes changes or omissions to the story of some characters to fit the regime under which the game is published, global PR manager Hanna Woo said: “Yes, I would say we do “.
Both Mr. Both Lee and Ms. Woo made it clear that these narratives can be found on the game’s website. The game itself is universally the same throughout the world and features almost entirely individual translations of all text.
The game’s characters are for players to play themselves, Ms. Woo said.
“Even if it’s not explicit, even if it’s not direct, even if there are changes made, or things aren’t as much at the forefront of that character’s identity, it’s like you have to see,” he argued.
“Washing shows that money is the most important thing”
LGBTQIA+ Twitch streamer Ben Austwick said he was “saddened, but not surprised” by the practice.
He told Sky News: “Video games are part of the culture and should be at the forefront of pushing boundaries, especially in places where LGBT+ oppression is widespread.
“The straight-washing of queer characters from games in countries with a poor record of LGBT+ rights is sad and shows that nothing is more important than making more money.”
WORLDS concludes on Saturday, with two South Korean teams facing off for the world title.
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