When scrolling through YouTube shorts, I came across a video that seemed like a Valorant replay, but it was different from the usual best tricks or cool plays. The video played out with a female gamer yelling at her teammate for throwing a flash in her direction until her teammate spoke, a feminine voice had come from the agent Phoenix, and the female gamer had stopped mid-sentence, and changed her whole tone once her teammate spoke.
This encounter has happened once before, in many other Valorant lobbies, with different players, but the one common denominator is that a female player finds another female player and the game becomes much more enjoyable to play.
But why does one encounter with a fellow female player make the experience of playing the game that much more enjoyable? Because it has only been recently that female players have become noticeable in the competitive gaming industry, and there has been toxic commentary in-game toward female players once they unmute their mic and start to talk.
Breaking the Gamer Stereotype
The appearance of female gamers is quite refreshing as it breaks the rules and stereotypes that people have of the competitive gamer, generalizing the enthusiastic gamer as a nerdy young adult male who is not particularly athletic or communicative. And even though many gamers who fit that description do find solace in video games, female gamers are just as a part of the video gaming community, but hearing their voice themselves in competitive games is quite rare.
As a gamer myself, I love everything about playing video games, especially Valorant, but talking in-game sometimes makes me self-conscious of those around me, as I personally have had uncomfortable encounters with other players on my team. As these encounters shut down any motivation to continue playing.
Looking for Friends to Play With
Many female gamers sometimes ask their friends that they meet online or in person to play a game of Valorant with them so that they have a support system. But when a female player gets the courage to speak up and find another female player, there is a sense of happiness that they are not alone in the game and that if there is any toxicity expressed by other players in the game, then at least there is a sense of community to help fight the toxic bullying that does happen in Valorant games.
The reason why talking in a Valorant game is so important is because, beyond just skill, Valorant is about teamwork, especially in regards to certain agents. When Twitch streamer Pokimane has stated that she usually mains agent Sova, she has addressed that she has been scared multiple times of communicating in a game, which has hindered her process of reaching the ranked status of immortal, especially compared to her brother, who reached the status of immortal before she did.
Making the Valorant Community Safe for Everyone
With such a public light on the bullying in Valorant, especially in regards to the harassment towards female gamers, the developers of Valorant are aware of the situation and are trying their best to create a more inclusive environment for all their users.
What has helped in addressing the behavior displayed in Valorant games is players, specifically female players, posting videos of the treatment that they receive. Some that start very off-putting end up becoming a hilarious encounter and creating new connections in the game, other times, that off-put introduction stays that way for the rest of the game, making female players feel uncomfortable to even continue playing and incredibly lowering the morale of the player.
Until female gamers become more known and prominent in the gaming scene, and other players recognize this, hearing that familiar female voice can be quite refreshing, as it brings a sense of community back into the spirit of not just gaming, but Valorant as well.