Toxicity is not a new thing by any means in the competitive multiplayer sphere of games. The developers behind other such similar games have adopted policies of varying intensity to curb the problem. Although Riot’s approach with Valorant, which they stated will be extended to their other games like League of Legends, Wild Rift, and Teamfight Tactics, seems quite invasive to user privacy, it hangs on the tightrope of Riot’s genuinity about this.
Disruptive behavior on voice communications is one issue that plagues Valorant. There is no dearth of misogyny, sexism, racism, or harassment in the voice chats of Valorant. It not only tends to drive away a lot of players from the game, but also takes a toll on the mental wellbeing of the ones that keep on playing.
It was imperative that some steps be taken to counter the issue.
Riot can now record and evaluate reported Valorant players’ in-game voice data
According to Riot, voice communication data is the key to dealing with the issue of verbal toxicity of Valorant. Riot stated:
“We believe one of the ways to combat it [disruptive behavior on voice comms] is by providing quick and accurate ways to report abuse or harassment so we know when to take action. We also need clear evidence to verify violations of behavioral policies before we take action and to help us share with players on why a particular behavior may have resulted in a penalty.”
If this system is used to its potential and is polished consistently, it will, no doubt, tackle most of the issues stemming from toxicity in Valorant’s voice comms.
But the recording and analysis of voice data raises a pertinent question, which is of the compromise of user privacy. Riot Games stated in their press release that players can choose to turn off their voice comms in-game if they don’t want to be subject to the voice evaluation, in the case they get reported for communication abuse.
Riot, clearly anticipating imminent questions regarding data privacy of their users, stated in their news release that:
“We believe we should collect the absolute minimum data to effectively run our games and continuously improve your experience. When we collect data, we’ll be transparent, we’ll keep it for only as long as is necessary, and we’ll protect it as if it were our own.
They further clarified:
We know collecting voice data is a concern for many of you, but be assured that we would never ship anything if we weren’t comfortable having our own data treated the same way. And if you prefer to not have your voice chat captured, you may turn off voice chat.”
As Riot Games paves the way for Valorant to be a better game, not only in terms of sheer gameplay, but also as an inclusive environment, it will be interesting to see how Riot further develops the system to achieve their goal of making Valorant safe to play for everyone.
However, the question of data privacy, at the end of the day, lies on Riot’s good faith.