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Valorant: In-game toxicity can have severe repercussions on those with mental health issues

Toxicity is one of the bigger evils in Valorant at the moment
Toxicity is one of the bigger evils in Valorant at the moment
ANALYST
Modified 10 Oct 2020, 14:35 IST
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Online multiplayers are a hotbed for toxic individuals to breed and grow, and Riot Games’ Valorant is no exception.

From trolling to griefing to straight-up using the most abusive and insulting of lingos on voice and written chat, the toxic personalities in the cesspool that is the world wide web will not stop at anything to ruin your day.

Competitive games like CS: GO, Valorant, League of Legends, and Overwatch have seen a significant rise in such personalities in recent years.

And the devs are not doing enough to curb the level of negativity that these games have been facing. In one of our recent discussions, we talked about how the penalty system in Valorant is not nearly as effective as gamers would like it to be.

And Riot seems to be bringing down the ban-hammer more often on those who accidentally disconnect from games than those griefing and being toxic on the server.

For trollers, this might seem like fun and games; however, what they fail to realize is the negative impact that they are having on the rest. 

Gamers with severe mental health issues are more susceptible to reacting to these trollers. Conditions like depression and anxiety disorder are tough to deal with on their own, and competitive games like Valorant are not exactly mindful of that.

The Valorant community can be very toxic

Toxicity in Valorant is not region-specific, and no matter which server you play in, you will meet individuals who begin the match by telling you what they did to your mother last night if you don’t pick Sage or Brimstone.

And this is precisely what is wrong with the multiplayer ecosystem at the moment. Hacking and smurfing are issues that can be dealt with, but getting toxic personalities match after match is something that demoralizes players and makes them outright uninstall the game no matter how much they love it.

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Moreover, toxicity doesn’t exclusively breed in just the trollers, but much of the Valorant community as a whole can have moments where it jumps the gun with accusations and hate mails.

Take the very recent Mika Daime scandal, for example. Just because TSM professional Matt “Wardell” Yu and Gen. G’s pro Valorant player Keven “Player 1” Champagne raised a few fingers accusing the Filipino streamer of cheating (without any concrete proof), a majority of the Valorant community was baying for her blood.

Things got way out of hand, and it took Riot to intervene on Mika’s behalf to set the record straight. Even then, as theScore Esports rightly puts it, “she didn’t cheat, but it didn’t matter.”

Toxicity is one of the biggest problems that Riot needs to deal with, as we feel that it is the main issue that is hampering the competitive integrity of Valorant the most.

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The Valorant community is not entirely bad

There are moments when we see that a game’s community comes together and talks about some of the significant health issues gamers face in today’s world of stress and always being in the rat race.

Video games (no matter how much of a boomer notion you have of the industry) do indeed help people who have mental complications like depression and anxiety.

They open an avenue into a world where players can leave the stress of their daily lives behind. Depression creeps in, especially when the mind is idle; thoughts that influence negative emotions are something that are incredibly hard to suppress for some.

And getting lost in a fictional world does indeed help in keeping some of the inner demons in check. It also helps people cope with some of the more pressing issues in their lives.

In a recent Reddit post, a Valorant player who goes by the handle TheyCallMeJuzou shared a beautiful story with the community.

He wrote:

“Before I start, I have severe depression and anxiety disorder. I don’t want any attention for it; you just need to know to understand my story. So, today I had a total shitshow of a day. I lay in bed, had zero energy and wasn’t even able to cook for myself. Later in the evening, I sat in front of the PC, watching my favorite streamer.”
“Luckily, I had Valorant opened in the background, and a notification rang through my headset. I got an invite from a stranger to join her lobby. To be honest, I wasn’t really up to playing games, but since I got invited, I thought I might just give it a try. In the first round, this anonymous girl on the internet just small-talking-ly asked me how I am. Normally, I say fine, but on the internet, I don’t really care.”
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“So I said I’m feeling pretty depressed. And after some more small talk, she admitted that she was struggling with mental health issues too. This started an about two-hour long conversation, where we chatted about how we were dealing with our disorders, and how surprisingly matching our disorders are. She was so nice to me, and it lifted my mood. I just wanted to share this here, to let you know not everyone is toxic on the internet, and you shouldn’t be as well. Thanks, Sakura!”

It’s inspirational anecdotes like these that make us feel that there is so much depth within the Valorant community, beyond the initial toxic surface of grieves and trollers. Toxic personalities should not get to define the game, and in Valorant’s case, that, unfortunately, is becoming the case as the game grows in popularity.

What was truly incredible was the amount of support that the post by TheyCallMeJuzou got. In multiple threads, Valorant players came out with their own mental health problems, and talked about how they feel betrayed and bogged down by players who are very toxic inside the game.

Toxicity running rampant inside the Valorant servers will ultimately end up harming the game’s competitive health. But there are shoots of positivity here and there that give us hope of a brighter future for the community.

Published 10 Oct 2020, 14:35 IST
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