GG: Sexism in the league of legends community.

In last week’s blog post, I stated that the media is an extension of society and that everything we see in the media can be connected to the real world. In this post I want to connect social media to the media I most frequently use: video games! The unfortunate thing about this is that I decided one of my favourite games shall be League of Legends (LoL or League), renowned for its toxic community. While toxic on many aspects, this week I wanted to specifically address misogyny within League as well as its developer, Riot Games.

The game contains 62 female champions to its 98 male champions. The majority of these female characters are similar to most female characters in games: barely-dressed, disproportionate bodies and flirty. This in itself isn’t unique to League, and there are plenty of handsome, shirtless male characters as well. Sexy sells, until the shirtless male character has a tragic backstory and the nearly-shirtless female character does little more than moan in your ear. 

Gamer girls

Beyond these champions are the people who play them, like me (Nami main, to those wondering, with a surprising amount of mastery points on Tryndamere). Being a girl who enjoys video games, gamer sexism has been haunting me before I even had a social media account. My male classmates were often surprised to find me playing pokemon on my shiny DS Lite, and I wasn’t allowed to join their mario kart matches because I am a girl. Part cooties, part ‘girls don’t game.’ Cue online video games a few regretful years later and now here I am. I do not want to hide that I am a girl, so I will log into a match with my magical girl character and a pink skin. It’s gonna get me a “r u a rlly girl whats ur snap” and a “here comes the boosted lgbt egirl” the classic “make me a sandwich” and of course “do u sell nudes”. 

Popular female champion Miss Fortune and her realistic chest-to-waist ratio

Am I special? No. Is the whole omg a gamer girl phenomenon a thing? Unfortunately, yes. I cannot be social within video game spaces without either being sexually harassed, insulted or both (in that order). It happens too often, but the fem-gamer experiences can be nuanced to barely-adult losers in their parents’ basement, not to be taken seriously and merely warranting an eyeroll and a block button. And that would have been enough, find your community within the player base and have fun, but this sexism does not end in-game. It is outside of the games where it is born and raised. Riot games has had several employees speaking out either publicly or anonymously on the sexism, objectification and degradation they have experienced as employees. Up to the point of a lawsuit where Riot paid 100 million USD in damages to female employees.

Riot games has since been making movements to be more inclusive, releasing the first female champion with wrinkles this year (shocking!) as well as releasing LGBT characters and even (!!!) more people of colour. Racism and homophobia in gaming are topics for another article, though. 

G2 esports

Just when Riot was doing so well, there he is: Andrew Tate, here to ruin the Diversity image Riot has been carefully constructing. For those unfamiliar with Tate, he is an infamous misogynist, sex trafficker and rapist among other things, who gained most of his following through TikTok, Reddit and Twitter. Influencing the minds of young males as an image while also being a threat as an individual, the Internet has agreed that Tate is not welcome in the Media Society. Several social media sites have banned Tate as a result.

My reason for writing this post is due to recent events in pro League tournaments. The regional championships just got its winners, and the world championship is starting in a few days. European favourite G2 lost the European finals, but that was not the major loss G2 suffered this week. To celebrate G2’s qualifications and overall successes, founder and CEO Carlos Rodriguez posted a video of him partying with Tate. When he was called out, he doubled down on the criticism, stating that he can party with whoever he wants and that no one can police his friendships. Sure, I agree, unless the friendship you’e boasting is with someone as vile and as dangerous as Andrew Tate. By stating this, Carlos expressed his support for Tate’s ideologies and implied what he could be doing with the money and power Carlos himself has as CEO of the biggest European team. 

“I can party with whoever the f*ck I want”

ex-CEO of G2 Carlos Rodriguez in now-deleted tweet

After a tumultuous week, where G2 lost both face and partnerships, G2 ended up losing its CEO. There are rumours that higher-ups from Riot were involved in this, but what happened behind the scenes is speculation. The gist is: CEO loves Tate, doubles down when criticized, loses everything he created. And here we complete the circle from video games to CEOs to the internet: through tweets with the overwhelming support for Carlos and his friendship with Tate, every tweet coming from a guy. Some personal favourites:

“A man that defended his ideas and left with them” -@madeanacctotel1

“Cancel culture is just getting out of hand, forgiving and forgetting is extinct” -@Wuuren 

“Huge respect to you bro” – @ptrsUK

“you disagree with him hanging out with someone that has different opinions to you” -@Zealousjf 

These tweets are a tragic example of systematic and individual sexism within the community. To a lot of people, the team they support and the people behind it are incredibly important. Fair, I also don’t like G2 torn apart, but being in denial about the misogyny that lives and breeds within the League community is perpetuating it. Riot does not care about women, of course, it cares about profit and about reputation. Bbanning Carlos was a very fortunate opportunity to express this. Hence, whether this actually meant anything and if any improvements for female gamers will be made, remains to be seen.