In its newest efforts to combat the seemingly insurmountable problem of video game toxicity, developer Riot Games has announced plans to record and/or listen in on voice chatter during games of its online hero shooter Valorant.
Revealed this weekend in a statement to the Valorant community, the League of Legends developer stated that it will be recording online voice chat going forward, though insists it will only listen to specific recordings once they are flagged as containing racist, threatening, or otherwise toxic conversation. Currently, this policy is only rolling out in Valorant, and will not at this time extend to Riot’s other releases — such as League of Legends or Teamfight Tactics.
In the statement Riot addressed player concerns that Big Brother might be listening.
“We believe we should collect the absolute minimum data to effectively run our games and continuously improve your experience,” reads the statement. “When we collect data, we’ll be transparent, we’ll keep it for only as long as necessary, and we’ll protect it as if it were our own. 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.”
Riot suggests that anyone who does not wish to be recorded cease use of voice chat.
Riot’s controversial step is the latest in the industry’s uphill battle in countering toxicity in online gaming. From Blizzard’s Overwatch, to Activision’s Call of Duty, to Ubisoft’s Rainbow Six Siege, Warner Bros.’ Mortal Kombat 11, and Electronic Arts’ FIFA, vocal and written abuse has become a miserable and inevitable part of the online gaming experience, where players spouting racist, sexist, and homophobic comments — alongside threats of violence — has, disappointingly, simply become “part of the experience”.
As publishers and developers continue to look for more smarter, better optimized ways to combat online toxicity — meting out bans and suspensions, analyzing data, applying filters, and now straight up recording voice chat — one can’t help but feel that the situation has spiraled far beyond the reaches of mere restrictions.
Anonymity breeds toxicity. And the false safety of the screen, coupled with the ubiquity of the problem, shields the perpetrators from any real recourse or punishment. At best, publishers can only aim to reduce the amount of online toxicity within any given game but, unfortunately, it will likely never eradicate it completely.
Source: Destructoid Riot to start recording Valorant voice chat to root out toxicity