In context: Toxicity in gaming has received much attention from developers lately. While trash talk has always been a part of competitive video games (and sports, for that matter), developers have been spending more effort to curb trash talk that borders on the line of abuse. Language filters are common, as are player muting, but few developers have handed the control over to the players themselves.
On Wednesday, Riot Games rolled out Valorant patch 4.01. Headlining the patch notes are changes to the chat settings. Players should note a new section titled “Muted Word List.” This setting allows Valorant players to mute specific words at the local level. The list serves a few purposes.
The first and most obvious use is for players to mute specific words they find annoying without entirely muting the player. Perhaps you have a friend that insists on calling you “Dude.” Type it into the muted word list, and “Bring it on, Dude” becomes “Bring it on,” sparing the friendship an awkward conversation about the use of the word “dude.”
A second use case is to eliminate alternate spellings for offensive words. If you have spent any time in chat rooms with language filters, you are undoubtedly familiar with the folks skirting the filters by using special characters and such in the spelling. To avoid being offensive to illustrate the point, we’ll use Riot’s example.
If “Riot” was a restricted word, Valorant’s chat filter would catch it, but it might not censor “R!ot,” “R!0t,” or “Ri0t.” The player can now add variant spellings to offensive words, so they don’t have to see them in chat.
Riot Games hopes to refine its language filters by reviewing the player-created lists. The developers can add commonly muted words or word variants to improve Valorant’s toxic language filters, which have been a work in progress since February 2021.
“We’re hoping that we can leverage the lists that you and others create to make the chat less toxic by comparing them across regions and using the data we collect to improve our own detections of bad words,” read the patch notes. “And no, you won’t get ‘League of Legends’ banned from chat,” indicating the developer will exercise some common sense when adjusting filters.
The rest of the update is relatively insignificant. Patch 4.01 nerfs–er, balances–the Ares weapon, which the 4.0 update apparently made too overpowered. There are also some adjustments to melee combat to make hand-to-hand encounters less frustrating and a few minor bug fixes.