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Riot commits to tackling “toxic” language in upcoming Valorant

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Last month, Riot Games, publisher and developer of the upcoming Valorant first-person shooter, started hearing from some developers of the game currently in beta that they were experiencing “toxicity, sexism, and harassment.” The usual buzzwords you hear before people start getting censored.

Now Riot is moving to tackle this reported problem in a formal way, by coming up with a code of conduct and establishing something called Central Player Dynamics – a team that will, in the words of Riot executive producer Anna Donlon, “not always be about punishments” but also explore ways to promote “fair teamplay.”

That last bit refers to the gaming industry’s initiative called Fair Play Alliance, established in March 2018 with the stated goal of battling “toxicity” in their communities.

Now, Donlon writes in a broader blog post about the development of the game that is yet to see the light of day, Riot’s code of conduct will present gamers with the company’s baseline expectations – and once again, she promises, it won’t be there only to punish those overstepping the lines that are yet to be defined and announced.

Donlon also says that in her role as the Valorant team leader, this is now her propriety that will receive the resources it needs to push the agenda ahead.

In the past, after Kotaku’s reporting about “serious problems with sexism in Riot’s workplace culture,” the company embarked on what it called a year of diversity and inclusivity, and even published a report about the results: there are now 1 percent more women employed worldwide, and as many more people who come from what’s described as “underrepresented minorities” in the US itself.

In the write-up, Donlon says that once the code of conduct has been produced, Riot will not use it to sanction players simply because “spirits get high and things get tense” in any competitive game – but only when this behavior spills over into harassment. Clearly, the code of conduct will seek to define and enforce this fine line, and good luck with that.

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