I generally play competitive games with complex metas, constantly changing tier lists, and massive, ethnically diverse graphic symbol rosters: Super Smash Bros Ball, Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3, and Street Fighter X Tekken to proper name a few.
Super Street Fighter 4’due south 30-strong roster may not exist specially numerous by modern genre standards, but the serial tries to include playable characters from many unlike ethnicities, nationalities, races, and cultures. Granted, those depictions frequently stray into stereotypical caricatures, merely it e’er meant an immense amount to me that they were playable and not merely thrown into the background of each phase.
When I started playing more on PC, I was presently fatigued to Dota 2. In many ways
felt like a natural progression from
fighting games, and its astonishing line-up of playable characters – now at 119 – dwarfed that of anything I’d played before. And hey, it was free, so I had nothing to lose.
When I showtime any graphic symbol-based game I look for the marginalised characters first. Which women or people of colour are playable? There are usually at least a handful of women characters to choose from, simply far fewer characters of colour. Sometimes there are more anthropomorphic animals or beasts of unlike species than in that location are brown or
Dota 2’s selection of heroes
includes several characters of color, but it’southward difficult to tell just past looking at the roster. You lot take beasts, monsters, gods, spirits, insects, and undead abominations, too as characters like Juggernaut, Rubick, Sven, and Bloodseeker who wear masks that obscure their faces. Masks are pretty absurd, obviously – very in right now – just you get the bespeak.
There are more than twenty characters with blue skin in Dota ii, but just two with dark chocolate-brown skin
Then yous have characters such as Phantom Assassin, Medusa, Templar Assassin, Drow Ranger, Death Prophet, Night Willow, and Queen of Pain, who run the gamut of imaginary peel tones from bounding main blues and swampy light-green to stoney greyness. There are more than 20 characters with blue peel, which makes for a pretty bleak comparison when looking at the roster to see but ii characters with nighttime brown peel: Legion Commander and Chen.
Characters such as Storm Spirit, Void Spirit, and Witch Dr. use the aesthetics of different cultures and ethnicities in the real world, but offer little more than crass caricatures steeped in an affiliation of other peoples. Witch Md, in item, features tropes that accept been used to dehumanise people of color for many years.
By contrast, League of Legends has more than than 140 characters to choose from, and crucially at that place are more 20 characters of colour amongst them. Similar in Dota ii, there are plenty of anthropomorphic creatures across LoL’south roster, but there are clear characters of colour like Senna, Akshan, Lucian, Ekko, Taliyah, Pyke, Illaoi, and Rell – all dark-skinned characters with distinct personalities and visual designs that make a greater effort to properly represent their real-world analogue ethnicities.
Neither of these games are prepare in our world, but their heroes are inseparable from their real-life analogues
The reveal of Taliyah in 2016 was met with backlash from some fans as she
wasn’t accounted attractive enough. A twelvemonth or so before Taliyah, most female champions had similar faces and were overtly sexualised. The roster has connected to improve in this regard, with more dark-skinned characters like new champion Akshan, as well as characters who are analogous to Korean, Japanese, and Chinese ethnicities.
League of Legends is still rife with missteps and examples of appropriation. Characters such equally Soraka and Gangplank have skins featuring Arabic or Indian apparel despite not appearing to be Standard arabic or Indian. And Malzahar is specially problematic as a texture update in 2014 considerably lightened his skin tone. Sadly, that’due south not at all uncommon – merely look at
concept art for Overwatch’s Mercy,
Street Fighter 4’s Rufus, or
LoL’s young Ryze skin.
Ultimately, it’s a judgement phone call. Looking at more than 200 characters across these two MOBAs and trying to discern their ethnicity is practically impossible, especially in Dota 2.
LoL has its issues in this area, too – information technology took speaking to a former systems designer at Riot Games to learn that I can add Azir to my list of champions of colour. Canonically, Azir is black, though nowadays he’s rarely depicted without his mask.
Never accept I questioned my judgement so much, and looking at the lists of presumed ethnicities I created I am still very unsure about some of them. Neither of these games are set in our world, but their characters are inseparable from their obvious existent-life analogues, especially when it comes to sold cosmetics and in-game events.
Anarchism Games has shown a degree of delivery to diversifying their roster, making relatively recent additions like Senna, Taliyah, Rell, Illaoi, and Akshan. With designers also continuing their ground on representing more body types, things are certainly moving in the right direction, and I am ever looking forward to what else Anarchism Games tin practise to make games more inclusive for people of color such as myself.
I’ve put well over 800 hours into Dota 2 over the years, but League of Legends is comfortably my preferred selection between the two largest MOBAs these days, and that’s largely a result of its increasingly diverse roster. In that location’s a long way to go, only what may seem like a small difference to others makes a big deviation for marginalised folk.
If y’all’re new to LoL and so you tin can detect our list of the
best League of Legends Champions for beginners, as well equally a roundup of
discounted skins. You lot should also read Jen Rothery’due south excellent assay of
gender stereotypes in MOBAs and why she doesn’t play carry in Dota 2.