“It’s just a game”: Toxic Triggers in the Competitive FPS Valorant

David Vuong, Emma Tosaya, Jane Heathcote, Kai Garcia

If you have ever played an online game, of any variety, chances are you have run into a toxic player or two. Online gaming has a long, deep rooted history of toxicity, often attributed to many games’ violent or competitive natures. However, toxicity can stem from a variety of sources, from racism to sexism to even a player’s enjoyment of toxic environments. This article aims to find the link between toxic nature and the online first-person shooter (FPS) Valorant. From the moment it was announced, Valorant was one of the most anticipated game releases of 2020. With its release coinciding with the COVID-19 quarantine, its popularity received a drastic boost, giving it a uniquely diverse player base – including a rising number of female FPS players. Focusing specifically on female-received toxicity, randomly selected interactions between players will be analyzed based on word choice and context to study in-game triggers for toxicity.

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