Riot Games promises to ban worst offenders for toxic behavior

Riot Games issues a powerful statement against gamers partaking in harassing behavior while playing Valorant.
In this photo illustration, the Valorant logo is displayed...
In this photo illustration, the Valorant logo is displayed... / SOPA Images/GettyImages

Trash talk is a part of competition, and that competition includes video games. It’s typical to see players jokingly take shots at each other after a hotly contested match. But that trash talk has escalated to a point of abuse and harassment that shouldn’t be tolerated in the industry. Riot Games has taken a stance against such behavior, making it clear they will ban players found to be harassing players after a string of videos where female gamers are being targeted in the popular game. 

On May 30, 2024, Valorant lead, Anna Donlon spoke in a near eight-minute long video specially about the harassment and the plan that is being put into place to address the issue. She also spoke about the team’s responsibility to protect players, which is a huge statement to make as this behavior continues to escalate. 

“Too often it takes someone experiencing the worst behaviors, something egregious, something painful, something threatening, for us to better understand where the gaps in our systems and processes are,” said Donlon in the video. 

“When you tell someone to just mute comms to avoid harassment, you are essentially putting the harassed person in a position to not communicate, to compromise how they want to play the game to accommodate you,” Donlon continued. “There’s no room in our community for the most egregious behaviors and we’re not going to compromise on that point. If you need to make truly evil statements under the guise of regular shit-talk to enjoy gaming, then please play something else. We won’t miss you.”

This is a clear and refreshing message that comes at a time when it is most necessary. A few weeks ago, several videos went viral that showed disturbing behaviors toward women playing Valorant. Twitch streamer, Taylor Morgan, recently shared a video in which she was asked midway through a match, “Do you know what rape feels like?” 

But words aren’t the only point of Donlon’s video. She outlined a multi-point plan that Riot Games is implementing to deal with harassment in the game. The plan includes the following: 

  • Updating existing policies to focus on faster, and stiffer penalties for those found to be harassing other players with hate speech, threat of violence, and/or severe sexual content. 
  • Penalties that include temporary or permanent bans for those deemed the “worst offenders.” 
  • Building the team meant to specifically review complaints of harassment. 
  • Expanding the rollout of the voice evaluation technology to different regions to help analyze reports.
  • Review top suspected offenders and apply penalties accordingly. 

As efforts in Gamergate 2.0 continue, this is an important moment in which a major gaming company makes it clear that this type of behavior isn’t appropriate and those types of gamers aren’t welcome in the industry.