Video games and female empowerment aren’t two phrases you often hear in the same sentence.
Gaming communities have long had an issue with toxic masculinity, while pixelated heroines haven’t always lived up to feminist ideals. Reassuringly, Riot Games’ Valorant has been a breath of fresh air. Below, we spotlight 6 ways that Valorant has embraced inclusivity and promoted female empowerment, both on screen and behind the scenes.
1. A Killer Cast of Female Characters
Valorant has a long way to go to match League of Legends’ sprawling cast of characters, but its dynamic lineup of agents is certainly impressive. Currently, there are 18 Valorant agents to choose from, with a significant proportion of them being female. Why is this empowering? Many video games with female protagonists have a male gaze problem. Female characters might be leading the cast, but they’re highly sexualized, with backstories taking a backseat. This is not the case with Valorant. Many of its female agents have rich in-game histories, with characters like Jett and Sage enjoying impressive pick rates.
2. Increased Esports Opportunities
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Although male players dominate the esports scene, more female gamers are joining the fray. Nothing is stopping female players from taking spots alongside male teammates on S-Tier teams, but girl gamers are in the minority. Thankfully, Riot Games are actively encouraging female players to step into competitive play. VCT Game Changers is a new initiative that runs concurrently along the competitive season, with the aim being to shine a spotlight on underrepresented demographics.
3. Complexity Gaming Take Note of Female Talent
It’s all well and good having female-only tournaments, but more work needs to go into actually establishing female teams. Thankfully, some major organizations are doing good work on this front. In 2021, North American esports organization Complexity Gaming created Complexity GX3, their first all-female Valorant lineup.
4. It Embraces Female Players
As of 2022, around 13 million players enjoy Valorant every month. This player count has a long way to go before matching the heights of other first-person shooters, but the gender balance of players is definitely reassuring. Currently, it’s estimated that as many as 40% of Valorant’s player base is female.
5. Promoting Female Talent Behind the Scenes
Although more women than ever before are playing video games, they’re still underrepresented by the scenes. In fact, it’s estimated that as few as 30% of video game developers are female. Riot Games recently announced a partnership with Girls Who Code to promote more gender equality within the industry. In 2021, this partnership offered training opportunities to more than 60 young women in game design and coding.
6. Riot Games Take a Stance Against Sexism
Sadly, no matter how much good work goes into empowering women, there’s always going to be a toxic minority working against female players. Recently, popular YouTuber IShowSpeed caused a stir after uploading a Valorant video to his account filled with sexist content. After the video was shared on social media, Riot Games took action, permanently banning the YouTuber in question from playing any Riot title in the future.
First time playing Valorant? Need some help mastering gunplay and unlocking new agents? Find an Valorant stat tracker guide here that will make keeping an eye on your match history and in-game progression easier than ever.