Riot wants to curb toxicity in Valorant without putting the burden on targeted players

Valorant executive producer Anna Donlon offers a refreshing take on how toxicity needs to be dealt with in online games, and explores why a perfect solution is so difficult to create.

“I worry that if we (Riot) don’t make a larger commitment here, we’ll end up following up with very little, or we’ll stop at providing ‘tools’ to self-isolate, rather than promoting a fair, competitive experience for everyone. So I’m going to make that commitment.”

- Valorant executive producer Anna Donlon.

Riot Games stepped into the first-person shooter world with the alpha release of Valorant, and while its previous MOBA haunt came with its own toxicity problems, addressing ways in which Valorant and its team can effectively deal with harassment and bullying is currently in Riot’s crosshairs.

That’s the subject of the latest blog from Valorant executive producer Anna Donlon and game director Joe Ziegler, and it's one that talks through the realities of some anti-toxcicity tools in a way other game developers might find enlightening.

“I’ll be super real here: harassment and bullying in games is not a status quo I’m comfortable accepting,” writes Donlon. “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. And I’m not alone. We’ve learned to mute others who are harassing us. We’ve learned to mute ourselves in order to keep the peace. And as a result, we have a competitive experience that can feel compromised. We often find ourselves at a disadvantage.”

Donlon explains that battling toxicity in Valorant is a long-term priority for both her and the team as a whole, but that “this is a very hard space to take on.”

“I can’t solve society, and some of these issues are really deeply entrenched,” says Donlon.

In Valorant’s currently early stages, she says this means publishing a code of conduct in the near future to set expectations for the community and work with players to ensure that standard is met. As both the game and its community are still taking shape, she notes that more details on any exact steps will be shared as they’re ironed out, but to “please keep holding us, and me, accountable to keeping up our investment here.“

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