The Valorant closed beta launched a month ago today. From millions of Twitch viewers hunting drops to professional outfits announcing their first Valorant rosters, things are moving fast for the latest eSports contender.
Despite Valorant’s early successes, and the fact it has yet to launch beyond a closed beta, an all-too-familiar facet of multiplayer games has already reared its ugly head: harassment.
Although finding examples of harassment, bullying, and sexism in Valorant isn’t tricky, Riot Games employees have highlighted the scale of the problem by sharing their own experiences.
A League of Legends UX designer, known as Riot Greenily, took to Twitter last month with a video highlighting her experience during a Valorant solo queue match.
From abusive comments to the use of derogatory terms by way of creepy advances, the video highlights a hostile environment for female gamers. Greenily pointed out that this was but a small taste of what was an all too common experience.
More telling was Valorant’s very own executive director, Anna Donlon, confirming in the same Twitter thread that they actively avoided solo queue due to the prevalence of harassment.
Gross, this is creepy as hell. This is why I can’t solo. I’m so sorry. We’re absolutely looking into long-term solutions for making it safe to play VALORANT – even solo queue!
While these comments paint a bleak picture of a game already displaying the signs of a burgeoning toxic community, Riot has implemented some measures to pre-empt harassment.
Valorant already has a feature to report abuse, harassment, and cheating. Non-voice communications like Valorant’s ping-system and character call-outs for game events mean players can get by without direct vocal contact with others.
These are more than most games have to show for themselves at launch, let alone in a closed beta.
But there’s a sense these are more a band-aid to shoo away and avoid the problem, rather than a long-term remedy. They also put players at a competitive disadvantage due to the strategic nature of Valorant and the widespread use of vocal communication.
The good news is that Riot isn’t stopping there.
Writing in the most recent Valorant status update, Donlon explains that Riot doesn’t want harassment and bullying to become the status quo, as we’ve seen with countless other games – notably Riot’s League of Legends.
Referencing the Twitter comments from last month, the Valorant executive doubled down on Riot’s commitment to fighting harassment:
I can also say that as the leader of the Valorant team, I’ve personally made this a priority for the game and will invest the resources necessary. This is a priority for us, not just in the short-term, but for as long as it takes to reassure a player—any player—that as long as they play to win in Valorant and respect their fellow human beings, they’ll be guaranteed a similar experience in return.
Donlon acknowledged that the problem was complex and that Riot “can’t solve society, and some of these issues are really, really deeply entrenched.”
Nevertheless, Riot has made curbing harassment in Valorant a priority:
This is a priority for us, not just in the short-term, but for as long as it takes to reassure a player—any player—that as long as they play to win in VALORANT and respect their fellow human beings, they’ll be guaranteed a similar experience in return.
In that spirit, the developer has established what it calls a Central Player Dynamics team to research the science behind “what promotes fair teamplay.”
Riot plans to publish a Valorant code of conduct soon. Donlon admits that this won’t solve the problem, but it will make clear Riot’s “baseline expectations for how we can build (and yes, punish) this community together.”
More is soon to follow. Riot will share the next steps when it has more to show.
Last modified: May 8, 2020 11:56 AM UTC