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.