Seraphine Lookalike Scandal Rocks League of Legends
Seraphine has invited perhaps more scandal and controversy than any League of Legends champion in recent memory, mostly due to her portrayal of mental health, as well as mimicking popular influencers as part of her debut campaign with K/DA.
Now Riot’s in even more hot water as allegations of a former Riot employee using Stephanie Dorris, someone who used to date a Rioter, as inspiration for Seraphine.
Dorris published a blistering Medium article that quickly went viral due in large part to how strikingly similar her personality, photos she had sent the Rioter, as well as some of her mannerisms are to Seraphine. Riot has denied these claims and has said that they’ve already addressed the matter to Dorris’ attorney. Regardless, the court of public opinion has now been opened thanks to the Medium article, so the claims are at least worth examining.
From Tinder to Seraphine
Dorris’ claim, while perhaps a little outlandish, does become somewhat plausible without some of the details (such as the identity of the Rioter) omitted. Her allegations that Seraphine are based on her are largely based on her appearance (pink hair), that she wears glasses, and that she too had just started working towards her dreams and dealt with some form of imposter syndrome from that.
“My problem with Seraphine is much more personal,” Dorris wrote in her Medium post titled ‘The Problem with Seraphine. “My problem with her is that I think she’s based on me. And not without a pretty good reason — I actually had a brief relationship with a Riot employee last year in early 2019.
We talked for about 3 months, and had only met in person twice before things ended. I graduated college, finally dyed my hair pink (my mom would’ve been pissed about the graduation pictures otherwise!), moved to California, and started my first job without even giving my brief contact with him a second thought. Then, over a year after we stopped talking to one another, Seraphine — a pink haired, optimistic girl who had just started working toward her dreams — started posting on Twitter, and eventually, became the newest League of Legends champion.”
The issue with Dorris’ claims is that she does not name who was involved with her at all – making it all very murky as to who might have had the power to suggest using her likeness to create a champion in the first place. It’s entirely possible that Dorris is just seeing too much of herself in a champion that Riot individually created. It’s also suspect that she points out that her drawings are very similar to those made by Seraphine when it’s nearly impossible to prove just when these drawings were made – even if she did post some text logs with her supposed boyfriend.
“I’m not happy about this character, but rather than repeating the harm that I feel was done to me — that is, dragging a person into something much bigger than them without giving them a choice in the matter — I’d honestly rather try to actually change things and shift the focus to Riot,” she continued. “They’re a giant company, can handle a bit of criticism, and, in the end, they’re ultimately responsible for the character existing. This isn’t a personal beef with this guy I briefly dated, this is an institutional issue. Why? If she really is based off me, Riot could be inappropriately profiting off of my likeness. And that sucks. But on a wider level, Riot is already kind of unfairly profiting off of every single person who feels some kind of attachment to her, consciously or not, because she’s a “person.”
Indeed, she says that because Riot stands to make a significant amount of money off of this, especially seeing as she believes its her likeness, that they are opened up to some amount of critique for their execution. This would be true whether or not she tried to challenge the legality of using her “likeness” or not.
“Her skin is for sale at $25 a pop, so “Seraphine” is going to make Riot Games literal millions of dollars,” she elaborated. “And with her Twitter account posting that she’s insecure and could “really use some encouraging words” because she “needs something to believe in right now”, this character essentially gets every single person who interacts with her pity party to advertise their multi-billion dollar videogame franchise.”
In closing, saying that the situation “made her sick,” Dorris blasted Riot for their handling of the character in general.
“ If you asked me why I’m posting this, it honestly does come down to that sense of outrage and anger about this stupid character — about the fact that a company like Riot can try to sell a full person, complete with hopes, dreams, mental health issues, and pink hair as a $25 skin that comes with a walking, talking Twitter feed for you to get emotionally attached to,” she expositied. “It’s a quaint idea, but when you think about it more closely, the idea of a marketing team in some office in Los Angeles trying to sell a product by coming up with the most ~relatable~ and marketable things to tweet out of the account of a ‘girl’ who coincidentally looks like me, and talks like me, and sounds like me, and draws like me? It just makes me sick.”
Riot Denies Claims, Stating That She Tried to Take Legal Action
Riot Games apparently has already put this Seraphine Scandal to bed, despite the huge outcry from the League of Legends community. This led to them issuing a statement to Inven Global, among other outlets, on the issue.
“Seraphine was independently created by Riot Games and was not based on any individual, including Ms. Dorris,” a Riot Games spokesperson told Inven Global’s Tim Rizzo. “Additionally, the former employee Ms. Dorris 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.”
Of course, due to the nature of the accusations, Riot quickly investigated the issue, but didn’t find any validity to the claims. Indeed, the gentleman in question in this scandal never worked for Riot’s League of Legends champion division and wouldn’t have had any input into Seraphine’s creation.
“We take all claims of misappropriation seriously and immediately investigated Ms Dorris’ allegations after receiving a legal demand letter from her attorney last month. We confirmed that he claim of being the basis for Serpahine lacks merit, communicated this to her attorney, and invited him to further discuss the facts with us. We are still awaiting a response.”
With Seraphine continuing to draw ire, it’s unclear what (if any) further response Riot might have to the situation. This was very clearly a failed experiment, one that they are unlikely to try again in the near future.