For Arcane, co-creators Alex Yee and Christian Linke told the origin story of two iconic video game characters and expanded the lore of a world. Based on characters and the world from the video game League of Legends, Netflix’s Arcane follows two sisters, Vi and Jinx, as they grow up in the seedy underbelly of Zaun. Linke and Yee both worked on creating Vi and Jinx for the original game, so they had a deeper understanding of the characters and how they became champions. The series is nominated for Emmys in the Outstanding Animated Program and Outstanding Sound Editing categories.
DEADLINE: How did you transition the game into a series?
CHRISTIAN LINKE: It all really started with Alex and I sitting together and thinking about which characters we would love to see on the bigger screen and dive into their story and world. Vi and Jinx were characters that we had worked on together with the game design team when they were made for [League of Legends]. There was always a lot of questions about their relationship as sisters among our players. What happened between them? Why are they rivals now, even though they’re sisters? It started with all these questions around their relationship and we started zooming out looking at the world that they’re in.
ALEX YEE: We both worked at the company for quite a while prior to embarking on this journey. For me, I spent a lot of time working on the world building of the different champions that were added to the game. There are always so many stories that we dreamed of being able to tell for such a long time, but due to the nature of the game it always felt like there was so much left to be explored. A lot of this show was finally getting the opportunity to take them off of the game stage and into their personal lives and see what made them tick. We knew what made them champions or what made them heroes, and this was finally our opportunity to see what would make them human.
DEADLINE: Are there any big differences between the characters in games and in the show?
YEE: The game is not really a character narrative and, as a player, you are really focused on what your enemy is trying to do and what strategy you’re employing in the moment. So, there really isn’t a lot of space to also try to internalize the struggles and the backstories of the characters while you’re playing. There’s a lot more content now, but at the time there were just these color stories and biographies of the characters that you could read. But, we spent a lot of time figuring out what is this world and how should the character look, from their fighting models, and what part do they play in the pantheon of other characters?
DEADLINE: What were the biggest challenges for you two on this project?
LINKE: Primarily, it was never having done this before and really having to be respectful of a craft that takes a lifetime to master. And yet we also understood that it had to be us to define that vision because we know this game and because we’re part of the audience. It was scary, there’s so many examples of people just kind of taking this on and falling on their face. And so I think it was really just, How do you tell a great story? A lot of time was spent on learning and surrounding ourselves with the right people. We knew it was gonna be beautiful, but we’ve all seen enough movies and TV shows that look stunning, but you just don’t care. So, I think making people care about these characters that, to Alex’s point, we’ve only really heard a few voice over lines from was really something that we had to earn, you know?
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