Of Broken Backs and League of Legends

A. K. A. This doesn’t seem physically possible.

For almost a year now, my boyfriend and I have been pretty regular players of League of Legends. With half the world in between us, it’s one of the few ways we can hang out, other than Skype.

It wasn’t long after we started playing that most of the paintings of the females began to get to me, and to the point where the loading screen for every other match or so makes me laugh or shake my head. It’s not only that almost all of them have armor that does anything but protect, it’s also their poses. They are bent in such a way that I soon realized that most of the girls of League must have broken their backs, and when they’re fighting they must use a ward or something to prop it up. I didn’t even know brokeback was a thing until today, but now that I know what it is, I realize League took no extra steps in avoiding this.


Did you try any of the poses? Maybe a couple are possible, but most of them contort the women’s bodies in such a way that can only suggest she has a bendy straw as a spine. Unfortunately two of my favorite characters are also suffering from a severe case of brokeback – Janna (the blonde with a staff in the upper-middle left) and Morgana (second from the bottom on the right).

Look at the way these so-called fighters are portrayed. In case that little collection isn’t convincing enough, the following ones are contenders for the brokest of backs.


You may all be wearing warmog’s armor, but Miss Fortune’s bare abs can deflect the sharpest of swords! All while remaining as suggestive as possible!


Maybe Lux’s staff is like a wizard’s wand in Harry Potter, except instead of dragon heartstrings the core is made from her own spinal cord?

Especially Kat in the middle here.

Especially note Kat in the middle here. Whut.

And last but definitely not least, Soraka and Karma. They were the first two that made me realize exactly what it was that was bothering so much about the art of League (years of video games have grown me a bit numb to costumes – so while many of them are eye-roll inducing it wasn’t anything new).


Even if you want to argue the unicorn-magic-so-anything-is-possible route for her, remember that horses have spines too.   Oh and look! Random pouch. Rob Liefeld would be so proud.


Who needs things like the ability to stand upright when you’ve got such a pretty tiara? It’s Diamonds are a girl’s best friend, not essential body parts.

It’s a shame since I actually think Karma’s design is pretty cool. But when looked at critically this picture makes me think the artist thought to himself, “Hmm…can I make a character that is just boobs and thighs? No? Those other things like a head, neck, and waist are important? Okay, I guess I’ll add that stuff in somewhere. But don’t worry – I’ll make sure the castles and mountains in the background are in realistic proportions and perspective.”

It’s disappointing that even in today’s video games, while the boys get paintings showing how battle-ready and fierce they are, the girls are literally breaking their backs to visually please the audience.

20 thoughts on “Of Broken Backs and League of Legends

  1. What’s more sad is that women make up half of gamers. These aren’t women that want to play “Barbie’s Mansion.” They want to play games like League of Legends, Final Fantasy, Halo and all the others. I don’t see why they can’t try to be a little less demeaning with the poses of female characters.

    • That’s a good point! It’s always assumed all the others are guys unless a girl announces she is. The funny thing is every time that I’ve played League and someone has announced that, at least half if not all of my team has said they’re girls too. Of course some could be lying, but I know I’m not so there’s a good chance most are telling the truth.

      It’s an area video games still need a major overhaul in.

      • Women who work in the industry face a lot of sexism and aren’t treated seriously. I’ve read horrendous accounts of what it’s like to be a women working in the gaming industry. It’s disgusting. They’re opinions are ignored and their expertise is doubted. If only the gaming industry could respect the ideas of women in the industry, maybe we’d see gaming change for the better. The ‘boys club’ won’t crumble if they dare to create a handful of female characters that women can relate to in image and personality.

        • Yeah I’ve heard about it too. I thought about going into the game industry when I graduated high school. I was convinced not too for other reasons, but reading about all that stuff plus the sexual harassment made me a little bit glad I wasn’t going into it.

          I agree – and I think plenty of guys would even like to have characters like that themselves. Thinking of it backwards, I would hate it if every male character was either an innocent schoolboy or a hyper-agressive bimbo. It’s just so lazy and demeaning.

          • The true reverse is a He-Man esque guy covered in armor with the personality of a rock. That’s not something I want.

            There are so many great ideas that can happen when the genders work together. I don’t think it’s too much hard to ask. Video games are not the boys club people make it out to be.

      • I just saw something painful and I have to share. I keep hearing about how Lightning has all these different outfits in Lightning Returns. I’ve never played and FFXIII yet, but I am terrified for this. Have you seen these outfits? Most of them are appealing to me (and feature the same crotch plate…. i guess that’s a thing). From what I heard, Lightning was a very tough almost Cloud-like character. Why in the world would she dare wear half this stuff?


        • Wow I hadn’t seen those! I had heard the games after XIII (there’s two now, right?) were pretty bad, and after my extreme dislike of X-2 I decided to just leave the XIII story where it is now.

          But as someone who has played XIII, yeah, they look super awkward on her. Even just the first one doesn’t look like anything she’d wear, ever. She’d probably pull her sword on you if you tried to make her wear that. The dresses too (like Dark Orchid), although not revealing, are completely off from her character (though I have to admit, I really like the design of that one!).

          I always hear her compared to Cloud (and I think the makers also said she’s basically a female Cloud), but I would actually say she reminds me more of Squall.

          • I hear her compared to Cloud a lot too. That’s why I just can’t imagine her wearing this stuff. I haven’t even played XIII yet, and I just can’t see it.

            I confess, up until I bought this PS3, I have played very few games that weren’t Final Fantasy. After I played IX, I was obsessed with playing every one, which took up most of my gaming time. Now, I’m trying to get into some other games, but a part of me just can’t let go. Maybe FFXIII will be the nail in the coffin… I’ll still be buying any remakes they make, though.

            • Although, in retrospect, to be fair Cloud wore a dress at one point too. 😉

              Ohhh you are missing out!! There’s so many great ones (of course I put a lot of the ones I consider great on my list of favorites in the other post). I have a feeling you’d really enjoy Okami. Its art is gorgeous, it draws off Japanese myths, and the play-style is really unique.

              I don’t know how you’d feel about the gore and swearing (there is a *lot* of both), so I can’t really say I’d recommend it to you specifically, but Fallout could rival FF in some ways, story-wise. I don’t know, they’re too very different ways of telling a story. FF is often like a book – you get in a pre-made character’s head, you see all that’s happening, and it’s very focused, with an intricate plot (and often great characters).

              Fallout I think, takes more advantage of the video game format. You are your own character, you decide who follows you, whether you’re good, bad, or neutral. You choose where you go and which way the story turns. You have to make moral decisions. Like one mission you find a tree that’s growing in the middle of the wasteland. The people taking care of the tree want you to give it a potion that will make it stop growing. They’re scared other people will come and destroy this gift of life/nature. By the time you get there you’ve probably had enough experience to know that they’re probably right, some people might do that. But you also have a potion that would accelerate its growth, that would make it so the tree could reach more people and possibly spread to other areas. *Then* you actually go to the tree and it can talk – it says it hates its life and being worshiped and wants to die rather than spend eternity this way, and tells you how to get poison for it. What do you choose?

              They give you issues like that throughout the game – not everything is so clear cut and black and white.

              • Fallout sounds amazing!!! I’ll have to look it up. I assume it’s a PS3 game? For now, I have enough games to last me a while, but I’ll be sure to look for it in the future.

            • Yep, PS3! Make sure you get the Game of the Year edition – it’s got some sweet add-ons the original didn’t have. And it’s pretty old now so I’m sure you can find it for $15-20, probably even new.

    • I think it’s important to mention that when Riot did a survey of their player base, they found that only 13% of their players were women. And wow the way I say some players try to justify those abysmal numbers – I legit saw one guy stating that it was a scientific fact that women have slower reflexes than men, which is why you rarely see women at high levels of competition. And I saw more than one mansplain that women “naturally” dislike PvP and only like MMOs with lots of quests and places to roleplay, so of course that’s why none of them play League! *vomits* Every time I see a player mention they’re a woman on Riot’s official forum, I watch them get swamped with “go back into the kitchen,” “you’re an attention whore,” “did your boyfriend carry you to Gold?,” “I bet you only play support” (because everyone knows support is a worthless role, riiiiight….). It’s a nasty business on both ends, ugh.

      • I haven’t heard about that survey, thanks for sharing. Do you have a link to it? I’m kind of curious to see what else the survey said. That just seems so incredibly low to me, considering every time I’ve played a game where someone ‘admits’ to being a girl (probably happens once a month or so), at least two others also say they are female. Of course they could be lying, but there’s not much to be gained from lying. Attention, I guess, but as you pointed out it’s usually negative.

        It’s frustrating the community is so awful in general in League, and so violent towards women. Sometimes I wish I didn’t find it so fun, because it does get tiring. Even most guys I know in real life who game and are generally nice tend to shrug it off, especially the art. “It’s the internet,” “sex sells,” blah blah.

        The sad thing is sometimes I see women (or at least people who claim to girls/women) saying similar things. I just don’t get it.

        I might write a post about the horrible community later too, I was concentrating more on the art with this one.

        Side note, I’ve never heard the term ‘mansplain,’ hah, that’s pretty funny.

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  3. Here I thought this is about how you broke your back carrying your team. I was surprised to see a League of Legend post here. What a refreshing view you have for those skins. I actually laughed out loud when I realized what you were talking about.

    • I’m a total nerd so randomly things like this will pop up. I know I should probably separate my blog into different blogs for each type of thing…but I’d get too bored that way and they’d all die a slow death, so this one ends up being a hodgepodge of whatever I feel like talking about.

      Unfortunately, I like playing League. One of the worst decisions of my life – and I’m trying to quit. One week League sober and counting!

      I’m glad to have made you laugh! If you’re a gamer too, I’m curious what you think of my top three games: https://brinkling.wordpress.com/2014/03/04/the-best-video-games-according-to-me-so-its-infallible/

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