Short post: a bit of League of Legends silliness

[Aside: This is not a terrible serious, hard-hitting, thought-provoking, or otherwise important post. However, it amuses me. So there.]

On a recent trip home, my brother and I were laughing about a ridiculous piece of official League of Legends artwork that he’d emailed to me:

Soraka the Star Child (I believe?)

The costume is terrible; large portions of that outfit must be secured with industrial quantities of body glue, because I can’t conceive how we’re not seeing even a hit of nipple with the construction of those garments. She also has ridiculous sphere-boob going on, which is par for the course for a free MMO. But the worst aspect of the picture is that ridiculous pose. Look at how far her spine is arched, and how far back the arm farthest from the “camera” is. I’m not sure that’s even possible without double-jointed shoulders.

Anyway, we were feeling silly and decided to see if real humans could replicate the impossible spine arch of this pose. …okay, actually I bullied my brother into seeing if he could replicate the impossible spine arch of this pose – that is on the condition that turnabout was fair play. One thing we both agreed on, however, is that we were not under any circumstances going to attempt to replicate the outfit. No way, no how.

As you can see, the results were… well… amusing:


We didn’t get the angle quite right, and we mis-remembered the tilt of the head. But we did manage to prove that yes, real human beings can achieve that level of spine arch. However, holding that pose for even the ten seconds needed to take the picture was excruciating for both of us. I used to do (CLOTHED!) portrait modeling back in university and I can pronounce with some authority that if this character were sitting for a traditional portrait, there’s no effing way she’d be able to hold that pose long enough for her portrait to be painted.

I’d also like to point out that my brother’s upper arm is thrown back at the correct angle while mine is not. I attribute this to the fact that he has double-jointed shoulders and I do not, so I’m going to flag that back arm as “implausible” but not “impossible”.

So much for League of Legends not being “as bad” as other MMOs, however. Man. I’ll probably do a future post about the design of Champion characters. They’re just awful.

27 thoughts on “Short post: a bit of League of Legends silliness

  1. For starters Soraka’s pose is improbable and painful to maintain for a human? That kinda makes it a case of it’s a pass as Soraka has not been human for a while now, short version of the story is that she was a human that taped into a source of cosmic magic and started to ascend to a goddess and then war came and with it chemical warfare machines, now as hard as she tried to heal the wounds of her people she was in a deadlock with the chemical engineer that was manufacturing said weapons as he was very inventive and productive with his work, so at one point she was watching this war torn battlefield filed with people wounded by the weapons made by said engineer that she could not heal her people from and she lost it: she cursed the guy from the bottom of her heath and fell from her ascension a couple of steps and also lost the ability to call upon that cosmic magic she had until then. So Soraka is a human mage that got altered by her use of cosmic magic and then was warped by her own actions that were the antithesis of her mystical studies. Is her pose impractical to her? Are her clothes really that bad an art choice? I do not know as Soraka is not a character I play League of Legends with and she is not all that interesting to me.

    This is just a suggestion: if you really are interested in female character design in the League of Legends art you should check out all the male and female champions and their skins and their poses and their abilities and the battle classes the character take up and the background stories they have (both character descriptions and their league judgments) and do one of those graphs that you like to use to show the (un)equal treatment of female characters compared to male characters.

    Also I if you could give me you opinion for character art related to Kayle and Leona, as I have already asked you about Kayle a few times already and Leona is the new champion coming out this week so she should be a reflection of their art direction for female charters, for the moment at least.

    • Shooting down the argument by saying “but she isn’t technically human” is assuming the artist was taking all this into account when (s)he chose to draw a hot lady in a hot pose with her spine arched and a fair amount of side-boob. As a concept artist myself, I can almost guarantee that a female character’s background story is hardly the primary motivating factor when drawing her- the artist (or art director, to be fair) chose to draw her in this specific angle and pose.

      If this painting existed in a social vacuum, sure, it would be completely fine- there’s nothing innately wrong with exaggerated anatomy and skimpy clothing. But when you put it in the proper context, when it’s held up against hundreds of other poorly-drawn and scantily-clad women in video games, it’s worth calling out.


    • That justification doesn’t hold up due to the simple fact that this type of contorted pose is common in tons of game/fantasy art, regardless of the species of what’s basically a ‘recolored w/extra decorative bits’ human woman.

    • Mirroring Claire and Pai’s comment, the “not been human for a while” argument doesn’t hold water. Context matters: there’s nothing implicit or explicit in either the background as you describe it or the artwork as presented that implies this character is some kind of magical contortionist. If we had some Linda Blair head spinning going on in the picture, or maybe if the background painted Soraka as a placeholder for Elastigirl (or, heck, as Cassiopeia, to keep in the LoL milieu), sure, we could buy it. Otherwise, it’s clear that the only purpose of Soraka’s physical deformation is to show as much gratuitous sexualization as possible.

      As for Kayle and Leona, well, they’re in a wee bit of a minority position compared to LoL’s other women.

  2. I appreciate that you and your brother were willing to suffer for our entertainment. That pose looks almost as painful as interacting with the LoL community!* (hey-o! zing! badum-TSH!)

    If you find yourself looking for an easy target, I definitely recommend checking out the rest of the LoL art. You don’t need to spend any money to be able to see the art that goes along with each character and their skins. My wife is working on a post about the Annie skin in which Annie has boobs. Relevant fact: Annie is like NINE. Just sayin.

    *Seriously, when the trauma subsides and my wife and I start playing again, I will likely be making a massive submission to Fat, Ugly, or Slutty.

    • Which Annie skin is that? I know for a fact that Riot employees have insisted that they will not give in to fan demand for a “teen Annie” skin precisely because it is such a creepy idea.

      • Prom Queen Annie. The shading on her chest looks pretty spherical, though if you can say something to make me un-see what I am convinced I see, I welcome it.

        • Um they did not give Annie breasts, instead they gave her a sash that emphasizes her chest while hiding her stomach which is something that is done in real life when clothing preteen girls for beauty pageants and it does give some people the impression of boobs where there are none.

  3. As a big fan of League of Legends (and no fan of their female champion design: their concept artists need to get slapped with a trout) I look forward to the game’s well deserved trashing.

  4. “my brother and I were laughing about a ridiculous piece of official League of Legends artwork”

    Well the game’s acronym *is* “lol” after all…

    Sorry, couldn’t resist. =)

  5. de-lurking to admit that i got up to try this pose, and omg that spine arch hurts! (it might be worse in my case since i slept wrong so my neck and upper right back are in pain, but nonetheless i couldn’t imagine trying that for too long). i love that your brother also attempted to pose. it’s just ridiculous for everyone of every gender.

    i also tried the back arm bend, and i think i got it, but only barely. what a weird way to pose.

  6. And yet no one complained about the horn on her head. I mean that’s gotta be an innuendo right there.

  7. Most of the time I have to agree with you but this time I don’t see the Problem.

    I think for the pose you do not need the double-jointed shoulder feat, if you assume that her right arm is simply stretched back and not bend.
    If the camera would shoot from a lower position and you would point your swab to the camera you would be there …
    And for “the hurting position” … I guess “a silly action pose” isn’t the same as holding it for a sitting.

    So, I tend to define it as a “simply silly” but not “implausible” ..YMMV

    • I agree with RdGkA. It’s not a still pose. Just look at the way her hair is swept. You’d need some serious amount of hair spray to keep it up like that. It looks like she’s drawn her right arm and shoulder back while thrusting her left forward, or at least is about to.

    • But it’s not a silly action pose. I refuse to believe that there is a fighting action that could be performed that would be a reasonable action and would look like this when posed. I have studied martial arts for many, many, many years and I can speak rather confidently that there are no commonly used fighting moves that involve simultaneously thrusting out boobs and ass at the same time. This pose is PURELY designed to emphasis both tits and ass.

    • And the entire Call of Duty and Battlefield series are Counter-Strike and Unreal Tournament clones so what is your point?

      • His point would be that LoL isn’t a MMO. It is just an online action game in a RTS style engine where you are point out games that are all in the same genre (FPS).

        • Hell, I should slap him for even associating UT with shit like CoD and Battlefield. It’s like saying humans are rats because we’re both mammals.

          Obviously the genre is MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena), but LoL was explicitly created as DoTA 2.0, even moreso than other games in the genre, by some of the same people that made the original. I thus feel it’s appropriate to call it a clone.

          • Oh you took that point of view with LoL. Sorry I thought you were saying something else.

            Um, you do know we have metabolisms similar to those of rats witch is why medical treatments are usually tested on rats before moving on to human trials.

  8. Tencent, LoL’s distributor in China, began replacing the splash art early on. The Soraka pic used in this post is one of theirs. I frequently see comments on the LoL forums to the effect that the Chinese splash art is generally better than the original splashes produced at Riot’s U.S. headquarters, and I’ve always been a little bit skeptical because of Tencent’s habit of pumping up the male gaze. On the other hand, a lot of the early splash arts were pretty lazy photoshops over close-up screenshots of character models.

    For comparison, Riot’s original Soraka splash:

    Here’s an illuminating case: Evelynn has a ridiculous costume. That doesn’t stop Riot and Tencent from presenting very different takes on the idea (There are two US splashes. She used to have one of the quicky splashes, but it’s since been replaced.)
    Original US:
    Current US:
    See what I mean about Tencent amping up the male gaze?

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