The gaming giant behind the industry juggernaut League Of Legends has said it is removing certain 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 WORLDS Gaming World Championship Tournament this weekend.
Speaking at the event in San Francisco, League’s executive producer told Sky News that the developer would replace words such as “lover” with “partner” in countries hostile to LGBTQ+ rights.
This comes after Riot released the game’s first gay black champion (playable character), K’Sante, who was heavily marketed in trailers with 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 his new character
Jeremy Lee, the executive producer, told Sky News 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 what they think is best for players.”
“Each region may release certain aspects of the game a little differently to fit the local culture,” he added.
When asked if the company is making changes or omissions to the storyline of certain characters to accommodate the regime under which the game is released, Hanna Woo, Global PR Manager, replied, “Yeah, I would say that we do.”
Mr. Lee and Ms. Woo made it clear that these stories can be found on the game’s website. The game itself is universally the same worldwide and features almost entirely individual translations of all text.
Game characters should allow players to interpret themselves, Ms. Woo said.
“Even if it’s not explicit, even if it’s not direct, even if there are changes made, or if things just aren’t at the forefront of this character’s identity, it’s It’s like you were supposed to see them,” she explained.
“Direct washing shows that money is most important”
LGBTQIA+ Twitch streamer Ben Austwick said he was “sad, but not surprised” at 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 rampant.
“The direct washing of queer characters from games in countries with poor LGBT+ rights is sad and proves that there is nothing more important than making the most money.”
WORLDS ends on Saturday, with two South Korean teams battling it out for the world title.