Riot Games has admitted to censoring the new LGBTQ+ League of Legends character in conservative countries.
Back in October, the video game developer made headlines when they announced the game’s first Black and openly gay character K’Sante.
“A mighty guardian wielding weapons forged from an apex predator he once slayed, K’Sante is a hero of his people, dominating fights with keen judgement and defiant fire,” Riot said in a statement.
“His weapons may appear defensive at first, but given the right moment, he can transform them into lethal blades, taking down giant foes others dare not approach.”
In addition to Riot Games announcement, Game of Thrones star DeObia Oparei revealed that he would be voicing the groundbreaking champion, writing: “I’m excited to give life and voice to K’Sante and make history portraying the first LGBTQ+ Black champion warrior.”
On 3 November, the highly anticipated character was officially released on the League of Legends platform.
While K’Sante has become an instant hit within the expansive fanbase, his openly gay identity has been censored in certain parts of the world.
In an interview with Sky News, League of Legends executive producer Jeremy Lee revealed that certain words, like “lover” and “partner”, have been removed from K’Sante’s story in countries hostile towards the LGBTQ+ community.
Lee went on to say that while he’s “very proud” of the history-making character, each region “can localise and publish that story in what they feel like is best for players.”
“Each region may publish certain aspects of the game a little bit differently to fit into the local culture,’ he explained.
Every king deserves a crop top 👑 pic.twitter.com/bRGF50SOOf
— League of Legends (@LeagueOfLegends) October 18, 2022
When asked if Riot Games changes character details to guarantee their release in certain counties, global public relations lead Hanna Woo answered: “Yes, I would say we do.”
However, Woo added that the game and its website are universally the same worldwide and feature nearly identical translations.
“Even if it’s not explicit, even if it’s not direct, even if there are changes made, or things are just not as much in the forefront of that character’s identity, it’s like you are meant to see them,” she said.
In response to Lee and Woo’s comments, gamer and Twitch streamer Ben Austwick expressed his disappointment to Sky News over the “straightwashing” of queer characters.
“Video games are part of culture and should be at the forefront pushing boundaries, especially in places where LGBT+ oppression is rife,” he said.
“The straightwashing of queer characters from games in countries with a poor record of LGBT+ rights is sad and proves that there is nothing more important than making the most money.”
K’Sante’s inclusion in the popular online game comes a couple of months after Riot Games announced Grammy winner Lil Nas X as the president of League of Legends.
Under his newfound title, the Industry Baby rapper released his collaborative single, Star Walkin – which has been used as the theme song for the 2022 League of Legends World Championship.
LNX also co-designed a “Prestige Empyrean” skin for K’Sante as part of his presidential duties.