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League Of Legends Treads Overwatch Path With LGBT Heroes Coming Soon

Seems like more heroes are going to come out of the closet as League of Legends design director Greg Street talks about LGBT heroes to appear on LOL.

League of Legends (LOL) has indeed made its way to the top, despite being second only to the multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) game that started it all, Defense of the Ancients (DOTA). And MOBA gamer or not, it is common knowledge that crucial to any League of Legends game is the hero or champion you choose to play with.

As of patch 6.24, League of Legends currently has 134 champions listed, with Camille the Steel Shadow as the latest added champion in 2016. And even with that immense library of champions, it seems League of Legends is still setting out to add more.

League of Legends currently has 165 playable champions [Image by Riot Games]
League of Legends currently has 134 playable champions [Image by Riot Games]

Interestingly, however, is that Riot Games’ League of Legends might be following the footsteps of Blizzard’s Overwatch, which has made some noise since it outed its main hero, Tracer, as a lesbian. Talking to Polygon at last month’s Game Developers Conference 2017, League of Legends design director Greg Street says that they are planning to add an LGBT champion on the LOL roster, as well.

On the subject of League of Legends champions, Street starts to respond to how some parts of the LOL fan base might not be fully represented in the champion roster just yet—and we’re talking members of the LGBT community, of course, which has started to gain much exposure in video games nowadays.

We’ve got the very famous Tracer, of course, from Overwatch (not to mention Zarya and Mei, although those two are probably still head canons at the moment), who Entertainment Weekly confirmed has a girlfriend in Blizzard’s Christmas comic.

Overwatch's Tracer in December 2016's comic [Image by Blizzard]
Tracer and her girlfriend in December 2016’s comic [Image by Blizzard]

If you remember Leo Kliesen from Tekken, that one was also quite difficult because a lot of people thought that Leo was a guy or a gay, when in fact, LGBTQ Game Archive notes that Namco revealed later on that Leo was actually a female (and her real name was Eleonore). Leo was, as Namco puts it, intentionally left ambiguous to be a “character players will love regardless of gender.”

Eleonore aka Leo is Namco's gender fluid character [Image by Namco]
Eleonore aka Leo is Namco’s gender fluid character [Image by Namco]

We’ve also taken notice of the recent character in The Last of Us named Ellie, who was outed by the game’s creative director Neil Druckman, saying the following.

“Now when I was writing it, I was writing it with the idea that Ellie is gay, and when the actresses were working they were definitely working with the idea that they’re both attracted to each other. That was the subtext and intention that they were playing with from the opening cinematic when they’re holding each other’s hands for too long, or when Riley bites her on the neck; there’s that chemistry there from the get go that was important for us so that we earned that moment when they kissed each other.”

Riley and Ellie in The Last Of Us [Image by Naughty Dog]
Riley and Ellie in The Last Of Us [Image by Naughty Dog]

So will League of Legends travel the same road that’s less traveled by video game creators and produce an openly LGBT champion? Street says yes, eventually.

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

Street then continues to talk about how global games like League of Legends and Overwatch have to be careful about weaving LGBT narratives into the game’s meta since there are still countries that are not as openly accepting of the issue.

“You know, both League and Overwatch are global games. There are countries whose laws around things that we consider pretty normal at this point in the U.S. are not the same way. One way you can get around stuff like that is by having some of the storytelling outside the game…”

“There are times when it’s worth having that battle. We just have to be careful, because it’s not necessarily just about a game company taking on the government of some other country, which may be very exciting for players. It could end up with players in that region not being able to play a game, which may be striking a blow to those players. We don’t want to indirectly hurt players.”

Street’s response about League of Legends creating LGBT characters in the future, WWG notes, finally puts to bed the debate whether Taric and Ezreal are gay League of Legends heroes.

Taric has always been seen a little too outlandish for a male, as has been constantly raised in LOL forums. But it finally looks like he could not be any gayer than Graves or Wukong—in lore, that is. At the end of the day, what the League of Legends-playing community decides as their head cannon is another story.

Which is your favorite League of Legends champion?

[Featured Image by Riot Games]

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