Riot Games Commits to Tackling Toxic Players in Valorant
League of Legends’ developer Riot Games has recently emphasized their commitment to combatting toxic players in Valorant. Unfortunately, their communities’ history of unpunished toxicity speaks for itself. The executive producer of Valorant went on record saying “harassment and bullying in games is not a status quo I’m comfortable accepting” and while we would love to see this happen, their community runs wild without regard to others.
The Toxicity of Our (Virtual) City
Valorant is presently in closed beta, but we’re already seeing vile, toxic players across the board. Their UX designer shared footage via Twitter of player behavior towards her in the game itself. Anna Donlon, the executive producer replied to this, pointing this behavior out as “creepy as hell,” and she’s not wrong. She also said this is why she can’t play solo games in a multiplayer arena.
Donlon has gone on record to say that the studio was “looking into long-term solutions for making it safe to play Valorant.” They are doubling down on this, according to a recent blog post. I want to believe them, I sincerely do. I’ve been playing League of Legends since Season 2, and I just don’t see it.
“I replied to a colleague’s tweet last month about my fears of solo-queuing, a problem I’ve had for many years of multiplayer gaming,” Donlon said. “And I’m not alone. We’ve learned to mute others who are harassing us. We’ve learned to mute ourselves to keep the peace. And as a result, we have a competitive experience that can feel compromised. We often find ourselves at a disadvantage.”
Some features will let players communicate without voice/typing, such as a ping system, and calling out enemy players. I don’t think female players (or anyone, quite frankly) should have to resort to muting whole teams just because people are awful. If the punishment system worked correctly, or people had a genuine fear of reprisal, it would be another thing entirely.
Donlon says more needs to be done to protect people who are harassed in-game, who want to compete using voice chat, and we agree 100%. People who can’t use voice chat (because they’re being handed racist/sexist/et cetera slurs) are at a disadvantage because their communication is much slower.
Donlon pointed to the existence of the company’s Central Player Dynamics team, which researches player behavior and ways to encourage fair team play, adding: “It’s not always punishments.” Some so many people frankly don’t care because they aren’t being punished. I can’t even tell you the number of times someone in a Valorant or League game has told me they simply don’t care that their toxic nature will get them punished.
What is the solution? Can we believe in Riot?
Riot Responds to Voyboy
Voyboy pointed out recently that Riot’s inaction when dealing with toxic players has led to the worst state of ranked play ever, and that will likely extend right over into Valorant. One of the LCS casters, Rivington Bruce Bisland III said on the Riot Report that in-game toxicity is “something that is taken very seriously” by Riot Games, but is it though?
Their team is “working around the clock to make sure that is something that can be resolved on time.” I’m not so sure about that either. Voyboy pointed out that players aren’t afraid to be toxic, because Riot isn’t going to punish them. He went on to say that there’s not even a point to reporting players because punishments aren’t going to come down.
CLG founder HotshotGG agreed with Voyboy and said that he pushed for changes. Riot, however, “hasn’t made any effort because they don’t want to or they’re not capable,” Hotshot said. There’s a lot of people in the pro community that agree with this sentiment. Riot researcher Nathan “Blaustoise” Blau said Rioters were discussing the video internally.
But will there be a change in how Valorant handles toxic players or League of Legends? We don’t want Riot Games to “solve society”. What we as players want, is for toxic people to be punished for their actions. It’s one thing to have a bad game, that doesn’t warrant punishment. But people that intentionally feed, and declare they will, that should be (but isn’t) punished.
As a point of fact, I had a game just this morning where our jungler (Master Yi) declared that because “Rene didn’t beat Nasus in lane” he was going to int, and nothing could stop him. We managed to win, only because the other team threw.
Before that, a match had an Ashe who decided because I didn’t last hit one minion as Taric when they wanted me to, they stopped playing. Some people might assume that I deserve these kinds of people in my matches. Why? Who knows? I am virtually never reported because I’m not toxic. I just want my team to work together and push for wins. That’s reasonable, right?
I’ve seen matches where people said they were glad Hitler did what he did, threw around horrible racial slurs, and worse, just because they could. There are far too many players I’ve personally seen that say they’re going to internationally feed or quit simply because they can make another account. Nobody can stop them, so they’re going to be awful, because “other people were awful to them.”
We may not be able to fix society, but people have to learn that being a clown ought to be punishable. As a community, we don’t want them to “fix society,” just the miserable part of their fanbase. It might be too late though. Some too many people know they can pick or do anything without fear of reprisal.
Hopefully, Riot Games finds a way to begin punishing the more repulsive parts of their community. If League of Legends is anything to go by though, I’m not going to hold my breath. But I believe in them anyway. We occasionally see punishments handed out to larger members of the community, but the regular, ordinary offenders who are perhaps even worse feel (to me) like they’re largely ignored.