Riot Says It Will Curb Valorant Toxicity After Own Employee Posts Video Of Sexist Harassment

Riot Says It Will Curb Valorant Toxicity After Own Employee Posts Video Of Sexist Harassment
Image: Riot Games
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It is a regrettable sign of our times that women sharing videos of vocal, sustained harassment they’ve received in specific competitive multiplayer games has become a genre unto itself. The latest game: Riot’s still-in-testing tactical shooter Valorant. The latest person to share a video: A Riot employee.

Late last week, a Riot UX designer who goes by the handle Greenily posted a video from her time in Valorant’s solo queue to Twitter. In it, another player, male, said he was “looking for an egirl” and asked if she found his rank “attractive.” After a handful of similar comments, Greenily told him he could “be quiet now,” at which point he said he’d “stop carrying” her, told her to “shut up,” and called her a “thot” repeatedly. Later, he referred to her as “babe” and pretended she was his girlfriend.

This, Greenily wrote on Twitter, was not an isolated incident.

“My dealings are not just constrained to this single clip. This is since I’ve ever played online games,” she said. “And for the record, yes I muted his arse. Does that mean he won’t go making other people uncomfortable though? No. If you’re in one of these parties, please help speak up and report these people. Because I hope this is not the kind of community you want to be playing with.”

This prompted supportive responses, but also an influx of the usual suspects: people who insist that dealing with harassment is par for the course in online games, and nobody should ever speak up or do anything with the intent of making things better—especially not where gendered harassment is concerned.

“We get people who never wanted to listen or read in the first place (‘just mute’ when in thread I said I did),” she said, elaborating on the way people systematically break down those who choose to come forward about abuse in online games. “Who want to focus on just me, just this clip, just my ‘whininess.’ Who don’t want to look at the bigger picture of all people who will ever play games and their safety.”

In response to all of this, Anna Donlon, executive producer on Valorant, also spoke up.

“Gross, this is creepy as hell,” she said in a reply to Greenily’s video. “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!”

Kotaku reached out to Riot and Donlon for more information about what exactly those long-term measures will entail. Riot was not able to provide more details ahead of this publishing, but promised an update in the near future.

While Donlon’s honesty is appreciated, it is, as Rock Paper Shotgun pointed out, telling that a game’s own executive director confessed to avoiding its solo queue. Still, Riot’s not doing nothing. Valorant already has a report feature even in its closed beta, something a number of high-profile multiplayer games have either launched without or taken their sweet time to get fully up and running. For example, when Overwatch launched in 2016, its initial report system was barebones and limited to only PC users. Console players had to wait a full year before they were able to seek recourse against griefers and trolls. Even then, Blizzard ended up needing additional time to transform the game’s anti-toxicity tools into more than an afterthought. It was no surprise, then, to see the game’s culture metastasize into a toxic bubble that, to some extent, still defies popping.

All of these events occurred in the wake of Riot’s own years-long battle against toxicity in League of Legends, which should have served as a canary in the coalmine for other big video game companies, but depressingly, did not. When it comes to toxicity, abuse, and harassment in games, reactivity alone is not enough. Companies only get one shot at tilling the soil in which their communities will take root. Here’s hoping that, in Valorant’s case, Riot has learned from its own very well-documented past mistakes.

Comments

  • I muted his arse. Does that mean he won’t go making other people uncomfortable though?

    I’m glad that she immediately addressed the common reply to these cases. Placing the burden of action on the victims while abusers deal with 0 consequences is not conducive to a healthy community.

    • i think people should mute people abusing them and also report the abuse, but the idea that the abusers face 0 consequences is a lie.

      serial abusers do get sanctioned the argument is about how harsh the punishment is and whether it takes too long (too many victims) before the punishment is enacted. This is different depending on what game your playing.

      she said she muted the guy that’s good (seems like she took too long to make that decision to me but whatever) i assume she reported him again good job. Muting and reporting abusers is literally all you can do, these constant complaints come across as whinging because the implication is that it should never have happened in the first place.

      The forgotten gamer in this argument is me, i greatly enjoy running across these stupid animals in my games because i give them abuse. Some of my favorite sessions have been destroying some jackass abuser in CS while the whole team laughs at them. PLEASE dont perma ban my punching bags.

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