The reality of living under a government like Iran is never so apparent as when a group of gamers is trying to set up a competition that involves playable female characters. According to this Kotaku report, Iran's World Cyber Games is putting together a League of Legends tournament in Sept., but the government has demanded that most of the female playable characters be banned.
The characters in question are Ahri, Akali, Ashe, Caitlyn, Cassiopia, Diana, Elise, Evelyn, Fiora, Irelia, Janna, Karma, Katarina, Kayle, Leblanc, Leona, Lissandra, Lulu, Lux, Miss Fortune, Morgana, Nami, Nidalee, Oriana, Quinn, Riven, Sejuani, Shyvana, Sivir, Sona, Soraka, Syndra, Tristana, Vayne, Vi, and Zyra. Organizers of the upcoming event say that they are in discussion with the Iranian government to allow Diana, Fiora, Karma (only traditional skin), Kayle, Leona, Lissandra, Lulu, Lux, Nami, Quinn, Sejuani, Tristana, and Vayne.
This information comes from a League of Legends Forum thread, offering a translation of a post (which has since been deleted) on the Facebook page of Iran's World Cyber Games.
One forum thread commenter described the situation the best:
"As a person who was born in Iran, first of all I had a blast reading the comments, but lemme explain why this is happening," wrote forum user Wtfisthisgamebtw. "The Government of Iran, enforces regulations at any public event, and these regulations are very strict and follow Islamic rules, in short, women who have exposed dresses are seen as something against the will of god (what a joke) and thus are forbidden and stuff..you get the picture."
Reza Babaei, the WCG Iran event coordinator, tells Kotaku that the event organizers have been talking with the Iranian government for the past two months. They have already had a small victory in getting a tournament for the game to be allowed. Nevertheless, organizers are pushing forward with talks on these banned characters in the hopes that a balance can be found.
The tournament is scheduled to take place between September 12- 16, though organizers say that they still need final government approval. While the forum thread detailing the controversy over this tournament says that it is "unofficial," organizers are calling it an official WCG event.
Some in the community have called for Iranian players to boycott the tournament, but players outside the Middle East may not fully understand the cultural and religious pressures put on its citizens in everyday life. It's simply a matter of reality when it comes to public gaming events: you play by the rules of the government or you don't get to play at all. In fact League of Legends is a game that is considered "banned" in Iran under certain conditions. Perhaps one of those conditions involves some of the more scantily clad characters in the game…