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August 10, 2022

Arcane Changed Vi's Design For The Better - TheGamer

Riot Games and Fortiche pulled off something special with this one.
League of Legends isn’t exactly a master when it comes to diverse body types across its roster. Riot Games has certainly improved over the years, but there was a time when every female character had to have a lovely chest, attractive figure, and all the assets you’d expect from a conventionally attractive woman. It became an accepted part of the game’s universe.
When Arcane was announced and it became clear the show would depict alternate versions of established characters like Vi, Jayce, Jinx, and Caitlyn - many were curious exactly how this new vision would be executed. Well, now we have a comprehensive picture of how the show was made, and how many iterative changes it went through before culminating in the final product we have today.
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Bridging The Rift is a new series of videos that aim to chronicle the making of Arcane. It delves deep into the multi-year project and working relationship between Riot Games and Fortiche as key figures across both companies take us into how the story, characters, world, and so much more were crafted. While it takes ample inspiration from the existing League of Legends mythos, Arcane also considered itself a standalone entity, one that was able to take risks as it appealed to a mainstream audience and strived to turn League into a household name that moves far beyond the MOBA that started it all. I could be here all day talking about the specifics, but for now I wanted to focus on one specific character: Vi.
Vi is the series’ main heroine alongside Jinx, with the sisters finding themselves separated after a tragic incident as they live out vastly different lives across Piltover and Zaun. Arcane would confirm their long rumoured sibling connection, while opting to depict them as younger, more vulnerable people with far more room for character development. Vi isn’t currently an enforcer, although could certainly move in that direction given her budding romance with Caitlyn, and taking into account how much Arcane has changed already, I’m praying it goes all ACAB and our duo of chaotic lesbians leave law enforcement behind for good. The first season also ends quite explosively, and it’s hard to defend a city where you played a role in wiping out half of the authority figures responsible for its continued existence.
Anyway, we aren’t here to talk about spoilers, it’s time for hot and spicy Vi analysis. Back when the show first released I touched on how it overcomes the obsession with male gaze that League of Legends has always failed to abandon, managing to depict female characters that aren’t designed to be sexualised first and foremost. All of them have agency, flaws, and motivations, but still manage to be attractive when the situation calls for it. Caitlyn is regal, ruthless, and sophisticated, and not to mention super tall. Vi is shorter in stature, yet butch, confident, and unpredictable in a way that too few lesbians in modern media tend to be.
Her vanilla design is still great, but it is filled with so many strange features that make it clear it was designed by someone who wanted to make her a sexual object first and foremost. Her hips are obscenely slender, her breasts are emphasised, and her proportions are modelled in a way that simply doesn’t reflect our own reality. Remove the armour, and you’re left with a woman who wouldn’t belong in the world Arcane works so hard to build. It had to change, and I’m so glad it did so for the better. Purists might disagree, but I ain’t one of those.
You can see that Riot Games was making progress even in the project’s earlier stages. Her face is dirtier and more refined, with features not matching the body they’re attached to. This Vi is more hardened, shaped by trauma we would come to see unfold throughout the first season, but her appearance was still in flux. Making her shorter, buffer, and less traditionally feminine resulted in the character we all fell in love with, and queer people were able to see as a heroine who wasn’t ticking all the usual archetypal boxes. I’ve seen so many lesbians and trans men find solace in Vi’s new design, because it was designed to elicit such feelings.
Even her clothing is more relatable to the world of Arcane. Her arms are often adorned by worn bandages, while battle scars and tattoos across her body reflect an unfair upbringing in prison that has fundamentally changed how she approaches the outside world. Vi isn’t trusting of anyone, so when she starts to open up it feels earned and a natural part of her character growth. Her design plays a role in this, making us view her as a person instead of an object to be ogled, and a woman that abandons stereotypes in favour of something far more unique. Vi isn’t alone either. Jinx, Caitlyn, Mel and so many others are stronger characters thanks to Arcane, taking on a new lease of life far away from old habits.
I also want her to beat the shit out of me, which certainly contributes to my love for the red-headed brawler. Just stamp on me and throw my ass into the undercity, I won’t mind.
Next: Bridget’s Trans Identity In Guilty Gear Finally Leaves Behind The Character’s Harmful ‘Trap’ Origins
Jade King is Lead Features Editor for TheGamer. Previously Gaming Editor over at Trusted Reviews, she can be found talking about games, anime and retweeting Catradora fanart @KonaYMA6.

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