League of Legends champion Seraphine has attracted more than her fair share of fans and detractors since her launch earlier this year. She’s got her own Twitter account with over 360,000 followers, where “she” — meaning whoever actually composes the account’s tweets — takes on the role of a rookie member of League’s pop group K/DA. Seraphine “started posting music from my bedroom this summer” and now posts pictures of herself doing all the things a suddenly famous teen would be doing with her newfound freedom. If she were a real person, of course.

It isn’t all pastels and pop songs, though. Seraphine’s meticulously crafted branding has been described as “gross,” especially as they relate to her mental state and faux vulnerability — all in the name of convincing similarly minded young people to give money to Riot Games. Creepy and disingenuous as Seraphine may be, today’s revelations might make the character even more problematic.

A gamer named Stephanie has posted her account of how she believes Seraphine is based upon her. Stephanie had a brief relationship with a Riot employee last year, whom she refers to as “John.” John shared a piece of lore internally at Riot that Stephanie had written (without her permission), and suggested she would be good for a voice-acting role, which she declined. He also shared with her a piece of art with her as K/DA Ahri, which was drawn by illustrators at Riot.

After their relationship ended, Stephanie said she and John kept up communications for a few months but then drifted apart. She said she hadn’t thought about him for “over a whole year” — and then Seraphine hit, and there were too many similarities between herself and the new champion for her to dismiss as coincidence. These include:

  • Similar names and physical resemblance
  • Similar styles between Stephanie’s and Seraphine’s art
  • Poses with Seraphine’s cat that are similar to photos that Stephanie took with her cat and sent to John
  • The timing of Stephanie’s “voice acting” opportunity being in line with when Seraphine would have been in development
  • Stephanie’s birthday (Sept. 19) being the same date Seraphine first “worked” with K/DA
  • Stephanie’s assertion that the lore she wrote greatly matches Seraphine’s in-game lore and background
  • Other, “random, smaller details” that Stephanie declined to provide at this time but she’ll “try to post those sometime”

Stephanie said that she spent two months deciding if she wanted to go public with her findings. She’s now “hired a lawyer, and I’m seriously considering legal action.” Stephanie doesn’t want to ruin John’s life, and went to some length to try and protect his identity, but she isn’t cutting Riot the same slack. Seraphine “is really disgusting to me, not just because she looks like me, but as a person who consumes and loves games.”

If Stephanie’s accusations are true, it puts Riot in a tricky spot. Given all the character’s issues, Riot probably needs to rethink Seraphine from top to bottom, though it might even be too late for that, as any radical change — or even Seraphine’s outright removal from the game — could result in severely negative consequences for Stephanie. It’s a messy situation all around, and one that shows that Riot may still have a lot of work to do to change its culture.

UPDATE: We reached out to Riot for a response and received it shortly after this article was published:

Seraphine was independently created by Riot Games and was not based on any individual, including Stephanie. Additionally, the former employee Stephanie is referring to left Riot more than a year ago and was in a department and role that has no input whatsoever into the creative design process.

We take all claims of misappropriation seriously and immediately investigated [her] allegations after receiving a legal demand letter from her attorney last month. We confirmed that her claim of being the basis for Seraphine lacks merit, communicated this to her attorney, and invited him to further discuss the facts with us. We are still waiting for a response.

Jason Winter is a veteran gaming journalist, he brings a wide range of experience to MMOBomb, including two years with Beckett Media where he served as the editor of the leading gaming magazine Massive Online Gamer. He has also written professionally for several gaming websites.

3 COMMENTS

  1. Like I understand it can maybe be called news and people want to put effort into their comments. It’s nice and all but there were official comments that this character was inspired by employers wife or girlfriend. There is nothing else to discuss or argue about as facts have been delivered. It’s just not necessary to write these articles or deep comments.
    Once I saw her pictures I could easily see that creator took inspiration from that woman like he said. Just one of those cases were people think world spins around them and people out there stealing “ideas” or something from them. It’s a e-girl you don’t need to take those people seriously.

  2. Funny I thought the champ looked more like Belle Delphine.

    Anyways, I had this theory about how all girls in league are based off of ex-girlfriends, and woman. Riot employees desired. Cause their facial features resembled too much that of a real person.

    I also had another theory that this game was made to embrace immoral things. And perhaps spread violence. Just take a look at some quotes from the League champs themselves. Word for word. And you might think some of the things are really odd.

    Also league contains a lot of things that would be considered blasphemy in certain religions.

    So I dunno. Of course they would say they didn’t make these characters based off anything related in the real world. Or anything that would have them lose money. I mean who would convict themselves in a court of law?

  3. Art is to capture something experienced and then for you the artist to interpret that into your portrayal of that experience. Nothing should block it, if it was so, art wouldn’t exist.
    Art needs its freedom and gaming is apart of art and gaming is a platform for freedom of expression, among other things.
    Today..oh my god, everyone is captured and they are being used audibly, by movement and gesture, visually every dam orifice that’s is exposed by you.
    If you do see yourself somewhere its your own bloody fault for being stupid enough to be apart of “lets get you in our data base” era.
    Yeah, we are that, dumb. lol

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