Valorant To Its Most Toxic Players: ‘Please Play Something Else, We Won’t Miss You’

Valorant To Its Most Toxic Players: ‘Please Play Something Else, We Won’t Miss You’

A few weeks after several clips of Valorant players harassing women via in-game chat went viral on X (formerly Twitter) and other social media sites, Riot Games has announced its plans to tackle the bad actors. In a seven-minute-long video posted to X, Valorant head Anna Donlon spoke about the team’s responsibility to protect players, the systems currently in place, and future steps the studio will take to hopefully minimise abuse.


Abuse levied via in-game voice chat is not just a Valorant problem, nor is it something Valorant players—often particularly women and queer folks—have just started experiencing. I wrote about how companies weren’t doing enough to combat toxic voice chat nearly a year ago, and was violently reminded of how little has been done yet again this April, when a viral video appeared to show several male Valorant players dogpiling on two women in their match. And just two weeks ago, Twitch streamer Taylor Morgan shared a clip of a Valorant player asking her mid-match, “Do you know what rape feels like?”

Donlon acknowledges that, despite Riot’s valiant efforts, its current “systems can’t catch everything,” and that “they require constant attention and tweaking and improvement” that often has to be “painfully manual or dependent upon players reporting things.”

“At the end of the day there are people who want to take out their insecurity, or their bad day, or their hate on some stranger through their computer screen,” Donlon said. “Too often it takes someone experiencing the worst behaviours, something egregious, something painful, something threatening, for us to better understand where the gaps in our systems and processes are.” She said that’s exactly what Riot Games is experiencing right now, alluding to the aforementioned viral videos and mountains of abuse that other players have highlighted in their replies.

But Donlon did not mince words when speaking about the kind of men who relish abusing women in in-game voice chat or Twitter threads, and the reply guys who offer mealy-mouthed, unsolicited advice for those looking to avoid it. “When you tell someone to just mute comms to avoid harassment, you are essentially putting the harassed person in a position to not communicate, to compromise how they want to play the game to accommodate you.”

“We do believe that a person should not be in a position to have to ‘grow a thicker skin’ or whatever other unhelpful suggestions have been thrown out there just to avoid threats of violence or literal hate speech,” she continued. “There’s no room in our community for the most egregious behaviours and we’re not going to compromise on that point. If you need to make truly evil statements under the guise of regular shit-talk to enjoy gaming, then please play something else. We won’t miss you.”

After this refreshingly no-nonsense speech, Donlon then outlines how Riot Games will be approaching Valorant voice comms going forward, and how the team will update its systems to better combat harassment. This includes:

  • Updating existing policies within the next 30 days to focus on stronger, faster penalties for severe behaviour (hate speech, severe sexual content, threats of violence)
  • New actions and penalties including temporary and permanent bans, up to and including hardware bans for the “worst offenders”
  • “Beefing up” the teams that manually review reports
  • Expanding the rollout of Riot’s voice evaluation system to different regions
  • One-time review of the top suspected offenders of the previous Act [a roughly two-month competitive timeframe in Valorant] and issue penalties accordingly

Donlon is “hopeful” that these steps will help players feel safer while playing Valorant, but she also referenced plans to take a more “proactive” approach that the team will outline at a later date. She noted that hardware bans are an extreme form of punishment (one that some male gamers have, unsurprisingly, derided), but said that Riot Games will manually review these cases and will dole them out when there is “clear evidence” against someone.

As someone who has both experienced and reported on violent, hateful in-game voice chat, it’s good to see that one of the biggest studios in the industry is taking it seriously. Is it because a woman is running the game? Who’s to say…

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