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New League of Legends character not based on real person, says Riot

Riot Games has denied a claim that its new League of Legends champion Seraphine is based on a real person who was briefly in a relationship with an ex-employee.

Riot Games, the developer of League of Legends, has denied a claim that a new playable character was inspired by a real person.

Yesterday a former college student named Stephanie posted a blog on Medium describing her relationship with a former Riot Games employee that linked her to the creation of a new champion named Seraphine. Stephanie alleged that during a brief relationship with an anonymous Riot Games employee (only referred to as "John") in 2019, he repeatedly said that the company was working on content inspired by her.

John dropped a number of hints to Stephanie about an upcoming character skin or project related to K/DA, Riot's alternate K-Star girl group comprising several League of Legends champions. He also used his access at the company to encourage her to visit him in Los Angeles, partly on the premise that she might "voice act" for an upcoming project.

Since ending that relationship Stephanie noticed a number of uncomfortable connections between the release of Seraphine and John's comments. Seraphine's rollout included included a Twitter account for a version of the character who lived in our world, making her own first visit to Los Angeles to join K/DA. Stephanie alleged that some of the art on this account resembled her own Instagram posts.

Now Riot is saying those similarities are superficial. "Seraphine was independently created by Riot Games and was not based on any individual, including Stephanie," the company told Gamasutra in an e-mailed statement. "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 Stephanie’s 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."

Though Riot Games disputes that its champion design team drew inspiration from Stephanie, it lent credibility to Stephanie's description of John's untoward behavior. A company spokesperson wrote to Gamasutra that "the behavior she describes would have been a violation of multiple policies."

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