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Interview with Riot’s David Roth, Director of Live|Play

The Live|Play series by Riot is really pretty heartwarming and interesting. In a field of gaming where it seems everyone is hateful and toxic, David Roth shows that that’s not the case at all. There are some real positive forces and influences within the community, and he’s highlighting some of it in a very intriguing way. From an LCS photographer to a would-be esports professional, a wide margin of players were covered. I had the opportunity to talk to David about the direction, method and inspiration for the series, and now you get to read it too! It was a real pleasure to hear their input and on a serious note, I love the idea behind this. But I’m sad I didn’t know about it! I’d have loved to toss my hat in!

Jason: What inspired the Live|Play series? I love the concept, but I wonder what inspired the creation of it?
David: It all originally started from a game of League. Long story short, this guy said he was a bit rusty so he might not play well.  We were all cool with it, and then he continued that he just got out of prison.  It just reinforced to us that sometimes the people we play with lead very interesting lives and challenge our notions of who’s on the other side of our screen.

From that interaction, we created the series to showcase the people and stories behind the summoner names – the ones we see every time we log into LoL and play a game.  We have such a large and geographically disparate player base that we wanted to create something that would translate beyond language barriers, nationalities, and even beyond the game and unite us – to focus on stories that challenge players’ preconceived notions about each other and provide a deeper understanding and appreciation for the people in the League of Legends community.

Live/Play extends beyond the game. We wanted to deliver compelling, impassioned player stories that broaden and challenge the understanding and perception of League of Legends and to encompass the social experiences both in and out-of-game.

The gameplay is core to League of Legends, but the social connections keep us all coming back.

Jason:  What sorts of stories did you guys want to focus on?
David:  From the beginning, we emphasized that the research is one of, if not the most important, aspect to our approach with the series.  Our approach was basically one of inclusion – both in the avenues we hit as well as soliciting help within Riot.

We basically went to the players and asked them to share their stories with us in every manner we could think of.  We reached out on message boards, forums, live events, through regional community managers, key community members, and even friends of friends of friends.  We spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to genuinely connect with players – to get them to trust us to share with us.  We, of course, had some spectacular trolls along the way, too. And we had to adjust our approach based on the region we explored.  Even if we did get a large number of submissions in each region, we then had to go back and translate each of them  – a monumental task.

Jason:  What were the credentials/criteria in who you pick to capture in this series?
David:  As with any filmmaking, the story is key – it’s the foundation, so we really vetted each story on a number of categories:

·       Emotional Resonance – super key – we asked ourself, with each story we read and shared as a group, what does it make us feel.  The stories didn’t all have to feel inspiring or happy or depressing or bittersweet – but they all had to make us feel something.
·       Along for the Journey – unlike Radio or even animation – live-action filming – things need unfold in front of the camera.  We wanted stories where we were discovering things along with the player – not after the fact.  We came across a number of amazing stories that had previously happened, and with two of them, specifically, we found a creative way to re-tell them through animation….but mostly, we looked for story leads of players who had just begun or were in the middle of their journey.  One of the statements I told Vivian (our research lead) was that if we read about it on Reddit, we were already behind.
·       Truth – there were a couple stories that upon first glance were amazing, but turned out we couldn’t verify the facts.
·       Thematic – Early on we decided to center each story, and even the season, around specific themes, so that each story extended beyond the specific experience of the player and tied back to a broader meaning that united us.

All in all we went through 7000+ stories to find the 12 that spoke to us the most.

Jason:  If successful, will you expand the series outside the few episodes planned? Perhaps a few per season?
David:  Right now, we have 4 episodes plan, so a total of 12 stories if they all come through (we’re still in post-production on several). I can’t speak to future plans for this or any other series, but I think, as a company and fans of the games ourselves, we’re always going to want to share and hear about players and their journeys.  Whether it’s through documentaries, articles, short stories, or any other creative execution, I feel we’re always going to want to tell these types of stories.

Jason:  What’s the filming/production process? About how long did each take to film?
Answer:  We had been tossing around the concept for over a year, but we started outlining the core of the series in January of 2015, with our research starting in earnest around June of the same year.  Our inaugural shoot was at the Quarter Finals in London for Worlds 2015 -early October 2015.  And we wrapped our last shoot just before July 4th 2016.  While each story is different we typically spent 4-8 days filming each story and getting to know the players.

Start to finish about 18 months, with 7 months dedicated to filming and editing the stories together.

Thanks for tuning in guys! Make sure you keep your eyes right here for more on Live|Play, League of Legends, and all the most up-to-date and pertinent online gaming news!


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