Company co-founder hopes the show will reduce negative stigma around video games.
While Riot Games has certainly made its mistakes, it's hard to deny the company's part in the growth of the video game and esports industries.
Its events are consistently some of the most watched in the world, having their viewership compared to the likes of the Super Bowl. The company has received a BAFTA and an Emmy for its representation of the industry. It’s helping other developers create games using its intellectual property, growing its own footprint in the process.
Treading new ground
Yet in recent years, it has set its sights on a new goal: breaking down the barriers between gaming and the mainstream.
It has done so through comic books, pop groups and high fashion. While these initiatives have not always been well-received by its existing fanbase, they shine a new light on gaming for those not familiar.
Its next target: television. One of its many anniversary announcements in the last few weeks revealed that the company was working on an animated series set in the League of Legends universe, titled Arcane.
The announcement comes at an interesting time, when media companies try to find new ways to compete for viewer attention. The growing importance of the gaming demographic in this has not gone unnoticed, as Fortnite developer Epic Games can attest. Its crossover events with other media, like the Star Wars movie franchise just this weekend, have made the company good money. And its game, too, has become a cultural phenomenon.
For Riot, it's not necessarily about mainstream recognition, however. Speaking to the Washington Post, co-founder Marc Merrill says that, rather, projects like this are attempts to broaden the public's understanding of what video games, and the industry built around them, represent.
While a commendable goal, Riot has not chosen the easiest road. The Post notes that video game adaptations do not have a great reputation. Additionally, League of Legends is not a narrative-focussed game, which is bound to create writing challenges. But if the company can turn its ten years of lore building into something well-received by fans and outsiders alike, it could open many new doors for games as a medium.
A tale of two sisters
Arcane will be set in utopian Piltover and the oppressed underground of Zaun. The show’s story is expected to show the origins of League champions Jinx and Vi, as well as the power which will tear the sisters apart.
No release date has been set, but the series is expected to land on one of the major streaming networks in the near future. Its trailer can be found below.
Image via Riot Games