The gaming giant behind industry giant League of Legends said it removed some references to homosexuality in countries where same-sex marriage or homosexuality is illegal.
Riot Games, controlled by Chinese conglomerate Tencent, will host the game’s world championship WORLDS this weekend.
At the event in San Francisco, the league’s executive producer told Sky News that the developer will replace words such as “lover” with “partner” in countries that are not friendly to LGBTQ+ rights.
Previously, Riot released the game’s first gay black champion (playable character), K’Sante, who was hyped in the trailer alongside rapper Lil Nas X.
The openly gay music star is performing at the competition’s opening ceremony.
League of Legends is one of the most played PC games on the planet.
Players take on the role of champions in teams working together to achieve goals, each with a backstory written for them by the game’s writers.
Riot ‘very proud’ of new character
Executive producer Jeremy Lee told Sky News that he was “very proud” of the new role and that Riot hoped “everyone who plays League of Legends can find a hero that resonates with them”.
But he acknowledged that “each region can localize and publish the story they think is best for the player”.
“Each region may release some aspects of the game slightly differently to suit the local culture,” he added.
When asked if the company made changes or omissions to the storylines behind certain characters to fit the game’s release regime, global PR head Hanna Woo said: “Yes, I would say we will.”
Both Mr. Lee and Ms. Woo made it clear that these narratives could be found on the game’s website. The game itself is the same all over the world, and all texts are translated almost entirely on a one-to-one basis.
Ms Woo said the characters in the game are for the player to interpret.
“Even if it’s not clear, even if it’s not direct, even if there’s a change, or things aren’t like the cutting edge of that character’s identity, it’s like you should see them,” she argues.
‘Straight washing shows money is the most important’
LGBTQIA+ Twitch anchor Ben Austwick said he was “sad 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 where LGBT+ oppression is prevalent.
“In a country with a poor LGBT+ rights record, it’s pathetic that queer characters from games are directly washed out, proving that nothing is more important than making the most money.”
WORLDS ends on Saturday with two South Korean teams battling for the world championship title.