The popularity of Riot Games’ team FPS Valorant has increased dramatically since its official release in June 2020, competing with games such as Call of Duty and Apex Legends. The free Valorant game offers several game modes, including unrated matches and competitive matches in which opposing agents fight for a spike that must either be defused or protected.
While competitive gameplay exists in most modern shooters and can be very entertaining while players climb the stairs, it can also quickly become toxic. Regardless of whether the malicious intent comes from the player’s own teammates or from the enemy team, it almost seems that bad behavior goes hand in hand with any game that allows communication. However, getting rid of games from this communication can completely unbalance the gameplay, which requires teamwork and quick decision-making, as was seen when Rocket League removed the voice chat option for almost eight months. However, Valorant’s recent decision to monitor voice chat to combat toxicity has not been received entirely positively.
Riot’s Solution to Monitor Valorant Voice Chats
The Riot Games community, unfortunately, is notorious for the toxicity of players, namely verbal or text insults in the chat in Valorant, League of Legends and other games. On July 13, Riot Games will officially begin tracking in-game voice chats in North America to combat disruptive players, something they have been working on since 2021. Studies have shown that 74% of adults are harassed online. games, and Valorant, of course, is no exception: harassment reports appear immediately after the launch of the initial beta version.
Eavesdropping on player conversations is a step forward in Valorant’s war on antitoxicity, as the beta program will record and analyze players susceptible to verbal tirades. We hope that the data collected during testing on servers in North America will allow the AI to take “a good enough place to launch the beta version at the end of this year.” The technology won’t be perfect at first, but Riot says it has “systems to make sure [it] can correct false positives (or negative ones, for that matter),” which is very similar to Sony’s recently patented troll detection system.
Controversy over Riot’s decision
Valorant’s player base has split due to the company’s decision to control voice chats, mainly due to a lack of details. Some are wondering if the voice chat AI will still monitor them if their microphone is turned off, or if it will still listen to them if they use push-to-talk. Not all Valorant fans are adults; recording minors and others may not be completely illegal in North America, but it certainly makes a lot of people uncomfortable. If Riot Games plans to continue adding Valorant to the console, this could become an even bigger problem as more users join the community.
While some believe that monitoring text chat is a good idea, having an AI that has access to the user’s voice can pose a security risk. What someone’s microphone picks up will be able to hear the AI, including other people in the house, the real names of people and their location. It goes without saying that such information will become a gold mine for any company wishing to sell personal data. File breaches, such as the Roblox security bug in 2021, could put millions of people’s data at risk. At the moment, players have no way of knowing exactly who will have access to this data or how it will be used in the future.
Several voices joined the argument, asking Riot Games to simply improve Valorant’s reporting and ban system by allowing people to write tickets based on someone’s behavior to the instant feedback team. The mistake here, however, is that it would be much more difficult to collect hard evidence of throwers, trolls or verbal insults.
Other fans of the game refer to the fact that this seems to be a responsible verdict, since now players who often go unpunished for their derogatory statements will definitely face consequences. Also, for players who want to queue with friends, it is more likely that they will use another server, such as Discord or TeamSpeak, to communicate with each other, which will allow them to transmit Valorant in-game voice chat. However, for a competitive queue, most people would like to be able to hear and talk to their teammates, unless they are five stacks in Discord together.
With such a popular game following in the footsteps of Back 4 Blood in voice chat monitoring, other AAA games may start to follow suit. I hope there will be more details about what exactly the Valorant beta system will listen to and how exactly the recordings will be used.
Valorant is available on PC.