Valorant's recent post about two of its most popular Agents blew the lid off a normal Sunday. Riot's image of Raze and Killjoy confirmed something that fans have conjectured for a long time now. Players may have just been looking forward to ending their weekend with a couple of casual games, but the post started a whirlwind in the community.
The toxicity in online gaming communities is something that has been well-researched and documented in multiple studies. A yearly study performed by adl.org marked Valorant as having one of the most hostile environments.
Valorant players have often complained about these issues in the game that make it an uncomfortable experience, so the overwhelming homophobia that has bubbled up since the tweet is not all that surprising.
Valorant confirms Raze & Killjoy's relationship and enrages a section of the player base
The developers at Riot Games have previously hinted at a relationship between the demotion expert Raze and the scientist extraordinaire Killjoy, so the confirmation does not come as a surprise to players who have been paying attention to the in-game lore and voice lines of the Agents.
This is not the first time Riot Games has ventured into showcasing non-heteronormative characters and relationships, with figures like Diana, Leona, and K'Sante already present in their IPs. The latest image from Valorant's official Twitter handle showcases Raze and Killjoy kissing, surrounded by other people engaged in some kind of festivity.
It evoked an outpouring of excitement and support from a large section of the Valorant community, with players excited that the developers had finally confirmed what they thought was the case for a long time. But the post also exposed the toxic underbelly of the community that quickly turned to homophobia and whataboutery.
The negative comments from players ranged from proclamations that they would uninstall or delete the game to accusations that the developers were making the announcement as nothing more than a marketing gimmick.
Another common pushback is to state that Valorant is merely a game that doesn't need to tackle such content. However, the argument that video games should steer clear of difficult topics so that people can play without having to engage with them is a reductive and problematic take.
Having said that, it is heartwarming to see the community, comprising of a host of casual gamers, lore lovers, streamers, and professional players, banding together and celebrating the official confirmation of a relationship that they have been celebrating for a couple of years now.
It is quite disappointing that an image affirming love and diversity has evoked such a strong current of negativity, but it also reflects how a large section of the player base thinks and feels about such issues. One can only hope that things change for the better so that the game truly feels inclusive to all players.