Why new League of Legends champion Quinn isn’t fighting in a bikini

Yesterday, League of Legends’ Senior Concept Artist Michael “Riot IronStylus” Maurino explained his reasons for making LoL’s newest champion appear the way he designed her. The fact that there was even the slightest fan outrage about Quinn not being over-sexualized seems ridiculous to me — especially since there are so many female champs fulfilling that role already.

It all started two days ago when the League of Legends Facebook page released seven pictures of Quinn. These pictures, when seen in order, told her back story in a unique style that went beyond your typical wall of text. I applaud Riot for thinking of different ways to tell stories. Then again, the illustrated storytelling wasn’t the problem. The problem was that Quinn is wearing thick armor and her breasts aren’t hanging out. It’s a constant lose/lose situation, with the inability to please everyone. Fans get mad when a character isn’t overly sexualized, and then they get mad if a character is overly sexualized. The artists at Riot Games are going to make their characters fit the model they want to portray. 

The lack of a pronounced chest thing wasn’t the only issue, though. Another issue  was also that Quinn doesn’t look overly feminine at first glance. When you take a close look at her, especially in the sketch Maurino posted yesterday, her features are quite feminine in appearance — mostly her eye shape and lips. You need to remember, once she is completed and not just art, there will be voice and animation that will add to her total feel. Even from a lore standpoint, she is Demacian; so she will tend to be more conservative than a Noxian.  

From a post on the League of Legends forums, IronStylus commented that:

Quinn used to be a guy, then I turned her into a woman. That woman is a ranger, she's prepared for a fight, she's wearing thicker armor but not plate aside from key places where she would have to interact with an enemy's face. 

Quinn was not designed to be in a skin-tight outfit. That was tried, and look, again, like a woman with a cape, in a skin tight outfit, which had been worked to death by Zyra, Syndra, Elise, and Diana. She does not care about looking feminine, she cares about utility. Baggy fatigues which have hardened pockets, knee pads to dig into the ground to take a shot, no exposed flesh to take a graze. 

Quinn Sketch

Basically, Quinn isn’t trying to be sexy; she is trying to be practical and efficient. These qualities are what make her Quinn and not a different character. Ahri is sexualized because her character tries to lure men to their deaths with her charm; that is her character. Quinn, on the other hand, is a ranger. Being sexy doesn’t fit her character, nor does it help her do her job. The whole chainmail bikini doesn’t work for her. IronStylus continued:

A ranger, an elite, doesn't care whether you can tell they are a female or a male. They are interested in getting the job done, and having the gear to do so. We gave Quinn that gear and did not embrace the traditional route of the tight-clothed standard fantasy ranger. She's a new ranger for a new time. She hits the Demacian notes but plays off of them. That is the rational behind similar armor themes to Garen and Jarvan. That's how we establish she's in the military proper, but not standard in uniform. 

Riot has a history of taking a basic concept like a ‘fantasy ranger,’ and then completely tearing it apart and rebuilding it with their own twists and style. In a fantasy, high magic, and high technology game such as League of Legends, there really needs to be the full gambit of character archetypes. If there can be little girls, fish women, full-plate armored women, steam punk-armed women, and seductive illusionists, there can really be anything. Some of them will be uber-sexualized and others will be hidden in armor and hoods. One isn’t more feminine than the other — just different.

If you couldn’t tell, I’m siding pretty heavily with IronStylus on this one. On top of everything else mentioned, he is simply Riot’s armored female champion artist. If you know he is designing a champion, you can expect this sort of quality out of the final product. "I design the women in armor. I do not design the over-sexualized, the seductress, or the siren." I feel like Leona is the perfect example of this. If you want another Sona-size chested character, I’m sure there will be one coming down the pipeline soon enough. For now, enjoy the immense artistic detail put into Quinn.


Historian, teacher, writer, gamer, cheat master, and tech guru: follow on Twitter @AndrewC_GZ