League of Legends, or LoL for short, is a 2009 online multiplayer video game in which you work in teams and battle one another. Sounds simple enough, but League of Legends has turned out to be more than just a video game. Having never played the game myself, I had no interest in learning about it. However, a few years ago I discovered animated videos produced by the very studio of League of Legends. In fact, these animated videos were short stories about its characters; their lives, their hardships and of course the game’s lore. With more than 140 playable characters, called ‘champions’, the game is not just a fighting game. It is with these animated videos that the studio behind League of Legends has tried to venture into different audiences. It was people like me, that never played the game or did not know much about it, that suddenly took an interest in its characters. These animated videos were such a success that the studio has recently even released an animated series on Netflix. Of course, this series was met with immense praise and success as well. But how exactly did League of Legends evolve in such a success beyond the game itself?
Characters coming to life
A turning point in the League of Legends franchise are the animated videos that have been released every so often since 2009. However, it wasn’t until 2013 that longer fully animated videos were released portraying its characters in action. The animated videos that were especially popular were their music videos. Most of these music videos were produced for an event called ‘Worlds’ wherein the top League of Legends players would compete for the champion title. As the years went by, these music videos were getting more elaborate. Not only was the studio able to pull in artists like Imagine Dragons, but they were also creating music groups themselves. For example, a recent hit of the studio is the all-girl group K/DA. This group consists of playable characters from the game, but they are voiced by famous artists like Madison Beer and K-Pop groups like (G)I-DLE and TWICE. These music videos and their songs were not only a hit within the community, but also in the music charts worldwide.
Taking Aesthetics to the next level
By taking the game into the animation world, the League of Legends studio combines and evolves certain aesthetics. The aesthetics of a game comes down to a certain amount of terms, according to the MDA-Framework. While the game focuses on all of these terms and excels at them, like the fellowship that was created within the community, the animated videos and specifically the animated Netflix series takes them to another level. The Netflix animated series in question, Arcane (2021), was an instant hit, and has since its release been in the top 5 watched Netflix Originals worldwide. The series elaborates on the lore and characters of the game that could otherwise not be possible in-game. By further developing the fantasy world and its narrative, the series takes the game’s aesthetics to the next level.
Not a gamer, yet still curious?
As said before, I myself am not a League of Legends player. Nor am I a fan of the game itself. However, I deeply enjoy its lore and all the different characters. Having watched the animated videos and thoroughly enjoyed the animated Netflix series, I would deeply recommend diving deeper into it. Without having to get yourself sucked into playing the game for hours and hours on ends, and losing patience and maybe even money, try watching one of their animated music videos instead. Or better yet, try watching their hit series Arcane, and without knowing anything about the game, feel like you’re getting to know the characters as if you have known them for years.
Want to know more about the evolution of the game’s animated music videos? Try watching this video by IGN!