Riot Games Design Director Christina Norman Shares Her Fave LoL (and Skincare) Tips

If you've ever played League of Legends, then you've probably experienced Christina Norman's work firsthand.

As design director at Riot Games, she plays a huge role in shaping the direction of the company and driving big changes to their games. We recently asked Christina all about her position at the company, and found out all about the games she loves to play, her favorite LoL tips, and the skincare products she adores most. Keep reading for the full scoop.


(Photo credit: Christina Norman)

Sweety High: Can you pinpoint the moment that you decided to work in games? 

Christina Norman: I think I've always wanted to make games—but for a long time I didn't think I was good enough to do it! When I shared this with a friend who worked in the games industry, he told me he knew I had what it takes, and that was all I needed to start applying with confidence for industry jobs. From there, things went really well, and the lesson I learned was not to let fear stop you from following your dreams.


SH: What does your role as a design director at Riot Games entail? How does it differ from your role as a lead gameplay designer at BioWare?

CN: Most games industry jobs are very hands-on—you build the game. When you get into leadership, your role shifts to become more about generating a vision for what the game could be, and building and managing teams to create the game based on that vision.

As lead game designer, I would split my time evenly between creating a vision for gameplay and creating gameplay by building weapons, creatures, and game systems in Mass Effect. I also managed a small team of designers.


(Mass Effect 2 via BioWare)

As design director, I'm entirely focused on vision and team management, but now my vision covers the entire game, and the teams are much larger.


SH: What were some of the biggest things you took away from your previous role?

CN: Being a lead game designer helped me develop the collaboration, team management, vision generation and vision communication tools I needed to perform well as a design director. Regardless of the industry you're in, if you can get people excited about an idea, and working together to make it happen, that's a super valuable skill to develop.


SH: How do you approach any new projects?

CN: The most important thing when taking on a new project is to understand what everyone's hopes and dreams are. Why are we making this game? Why will things be better once that game is made? There are so many great games that could be made, so my role is helping Riot pick the right game to make, and ensuring that game is the one that players want, and that Riot is excited to make. To figure this out I spend a lot of time talking with everyone about their hopes, dreams and fears, and that guides me while formulating the vision for the game.


SH: What's one recent change in the gaming world that you've been really happy to see?

CN: Phones. Today's phones have the power of a games console, but everyone has one on them all the time. They're always available. They make it easy to play games with your friends. I think we're only starting to tap into the opportunities for making fantastic games for phones.


SH: Are there any big changes you'd still love to see take place?

CN: Games are rapidly changing and I think the industry is struggling to keep up. I'd like to see games companies adapt faster so they can better serve the needs of game developers and gamers today. To do this, game developers need to pay attention and really listen to both gamers and game developers.


SH: Do you have time to play games in your free time on top of your work? What do you like to play most?

CN: I must play games. You can't be a great designer if you aren't keeping up on the latest trends in the industry, so I make time to play games no matter what. Some games I've really enjoyed recently are God of War on PlayStation 4, Hollow Knight on Switch and PC and Brawl Stars on mobile.

Hollow Knight: Greenpath Bench

(Hollow Knight via Team Cherry)


SH: Any League of Legends tips and tricks you can share with our audience?

CN: League of Legends can be played solo, but it's way more fun with friends. New players also improve much faster when they play with friends.
Another tip for new players is that co-op is a great place to learn the basics, but once you know the basics, PvP—player versus player—is more fun and a better learning environment for most players. Try switching to PvP, or alternating PvP and co-op games, once you reach level 10.
Watching streamers and eSports matches is another great way to learn more about League, and it will help you play better as well. And just like playing League, watching eSports matches is more fun with friends.

League of Legends screenshot

(League of Legends via Riot Games)


SH: Is there a question that you wish we'd had asked you? 

CN: You definitely should have asked me how I keep up on the latest skin care trends because I am obsessed with skincare! I love to read the /r/SkinCareAddiction and /r/AsianBeauty Reddits. They are both fantastic communities with great information. I'd also love to give a shout out to Holy Snails and Deciem, who make some of my favorite reasonably priced skin care products.


If you're eager to find out more about how your fave games get made, click HERE to read our interview with the executive producer of The Sims.