“In order for us to take action against players who use voice comms to harass others, use hate speech, or otherwise disrupt your experience, we need to know what those players are saying,” Riot wrote on their website. “Which is why, moving forward we’ll need the ability to analyze voice data.”
Riot explained the way their new policy works, and stressed that the company will not be actively listening to players, but will only record data if a report is filed.
“When a player submits a report for disruptive or offensive behavior in voice comms, the relevant audio data will be stored in your account’s registered region and evaluated to see if our behavior agreement was violated,” Riot wrote.
Whether or not a violation is found, Riot says the audio will subsequently be deleted.
In an interview with Tech Crunch, Weszt Hart, head of players dynamics, and Chris Hymes, data protection officer and CISO, said Riot is still working on what tools to use to evaluate audio recordings and that the process will likely be automated. Automating moderation can be tricky, and can possibly lead to uneven enforcement; to combat this, Hart and Hymes said human moderation will also play a role as they work to find the best method.
For now, Valorant will be the only Riot game using the new audio moderation tools. Valorant, a first-person team-based shooter, has a reputation for players who use voice chat to hurl abuse. Online, some players say this atmosphere makes it difficult to play the game, while others say they quit altogether over toxic voice comms.
Online, Valorant players are mixed about the news. Some players are grateful measures are finally being taken to curtail the rampant racist, sexist, and ableist abuse perpetrated in the game’s voice chat, and hope that the new moderation method will be brought to Riot’s other flagship games like League of Legends. Others expressed privacy concerns and worried that the moderation system could be used to unfairly report players for words taken out of context.
Audio moderation isn’t yet live in Valorant. Riot said the Valorant team will announce when data collection will begin.