A tough stance on cheaters, bots and key-resellers. In-depth training modes. For a traditionally inaccessible genre, Valorant seems to be trying its hardest to be as welcoming as possible – and now, that means making sure people can play nice on their battlefields. After one of their own was hit with sexual harassment, Riot have promised to find a lasting solution against bad actors in their fledgeling hero shooter.
Never lacking for ambition, Riot’s new shooter is calling some tough shots. It’s taking on two established titans in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Overwatch – and doing it well (or not-so-well, depending on who you ask). It wants to ramp up the war against cheating with a controversial anti-cheat that never sleeps.
But one thing it hasn’t yet put to rest is the willingness of certain folks to, frankly, lose their entire shit when they hear a woman’s voice over comms. As reported by Dextero, Riot UX designer “Greenily” posted a short clip of some of the inane sexist guff she’s had to put up with while playing Valorant.
Today's🍵: It's like this MOST of the time on solo queue voice comms REGARDLESS of the game I'm playing. I usually don't give in to this like in the video; I'm silent in an attempt to not incite more. Inevitably you get to a point where you have to mute them. More perspective: pic.twitter.com/7ruWcI78tL
— Tea! 🍵 (@Evergreenily) April 24, 2020
Granted, in this case, Greenily takes it in her stride. She does admit, however, that she’s usually silent until the comments become mute-worthy in an effort not to incite, to “feed the trolls” in ancient internet parlance. In a game as reliant on communication as Valorant, though, it becomes a real problem when certain players find themselves unable to take the mic for fear of dealing with harassment.
It’s a sentiment echoed by Valorant executive producer Anna “SuperCakes” Donlon. Responding to Greenily’s tweets, Donlon assured that the team is “absolutely looking into long-term solutions for making it safe to play Valorant – even solo queue.” She also noted her own discomfort in solo queueing for the very same reason, which is a kinda wild coming from one of the people heading up the game’s development.
Of course, this isn’t a problem exclusive to Valorant, not by far. Blizzard reported that their Overwatch endorsement system helped curb bad behaviour by 40%, though contributor Jay Castello noted that Blizzard’s words don’t quite tell the whole story. In 2018, Rainbow Six Siege started permanently banning players for bigoted language.
Castello actually penned a whole piece over on The Guardian pushing back against the idea that toxic behaviour can’t be helped, noting that even Riot have found some success in League Of Legends‘ Tribunal and Honor systems.
Mind, this is the same Riot that last year finally settled a gender discrimination lawsuit for $10 million, following a damning expose from Kotaku on the developers’ workplace culture. It’s been roughly eight months since that case was settled, and Riot promised to clamp down on in-house harassment.
Hopefully, actions taken to make Valorant a nicer place reflect a company that’s learnt to treat its employees with the fairness they deserve.