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Friday, July 31, 2015

[LoL] Fiora and Gangplank, two changes, two reactions

Over the next few patches Riot is making major modifications to several League of Legends characters including Miss Fortune, Gangplank, and Fiora. The latter two occurred at roughly the same time, and the player reactions to each serve to demonstrate the prevalent sexism of how we depict women in video games.

Each of the three Champion reworks received some level of gameplay change to help bring them up to the modern level, but they also received changes to their art. In the case of Miss Fortune this meant a new skin and a model update to her old ones and for the most part "...kept the familiar look you'll recognize from her splash art." You know, this...

At least she doesn't need to learn to swim.
So far as I can tell this didn't make much of a splash. She looks more or less like she always did but with higher quality textures and a few more polygons.

However, two other champion updates followed right on her high heels.

First was Gangplank, who received a huge update to his gameplay and a similarly significant model change. He went from this...

Cartoon pirate!
To this...
I'm scared.
He aged, his beard and hat changed, he found a snazzier coat. A new player would be forgiven if they thought the two versions were different characters. Suffice to say this was a huge change in art, and generally people celebrated the change. So naturally one would assume that they would feel the same about Fiora's change...except they didn't. For reference, Fiora also went through about as significant a change as Gangplank and went from this...

This is a woman in latex with a broken right arm
To this...
This is a badass fencer lady
So she lost the inappropriate cat suit, ditched the boob-cup armor, donned something relatively form-fitting but practical, and got some slightly sharper cheek bones. The new outfit is fantastically designed. Her change was the same basic idea; polish the art to improve on the character. Not that big of a deal right?

People. Threw. Fits.

You got such enlightened posts as... (be sure to check each link as you read about the character in question)

Ironstylus hates attractive women. It's like he's on a mission to make every woman in league unattractive. I remember a while back he was talking about giving Eve a VU where she wasn't a sexy dominatrix type.
Look at the major female splashes that were changed. Players had a problem with Ahri, Katarina, and now Fiora. Not to mention the Akali sideboob controversy. Sona had a breast reduction. Sejuani is now fully dressed with a rougher face. He seriously wants every woman in the game to be ugly.
 - User "Sonnington" on League of Legends forums (links added)

In a game with 39 female champions, the poster cites a total of 6 that have undergone some sort of splash appearance change; a mere 15%. Most of them are barely changed at all; Sona has hardly received a "breast reduction," Akali's splash is still filled with "sideboob," and so on.

The women in League of Legends have long suffered from the issue of "same face," a phenomena that is prevalent throughout media of all types. Every single woman has to be "pretty," none of them are aged, ugly, disfigured, or even a hint outside the conventional standards of attractiveness. Meanwhile, Fiora puts a TOE outside the "pretty" box by having slightly older looking features and sharper cheekbones, and suddenly people are outraged and accusing the developer of wanting "every woman in the game to be ugly." That's right women, if you're in a video game, your job is to be aesthetically pleasing. Doesn't matter if you're a badass fighter, wizard, or whatever; you are only allowed if you're pretty.

No one wants to admit it, but we know exactly why people threw a fit over Fiora and not Gangplank, and it wasn't because they wanted to protect the "integrity" of the character. It's because they can't stand the idea of ANY female character in League not meeting social standards of attractiveness. Note that there was no negative feedback to Miss Fortune, precisely because Riot did absolutely nothing to her sexualization. That is what makes this so telling; we have a perfect example of three characters getting modifications, and when it comes to art the only one that ruffled feathers was when Riot toned down some sexualization.

1 comment:

  1. I'm a straight, cis woman so I'm not exactly Riot's target audience, but I think this version of Fiora is more attractive. I'm meh on GP's update, but I'm also fond of the old "cartoonish" splash art. Still bummed you can't get the original Lux one as a skin.