Individual Work
Riot Games' Valorant: Culture and Comparisons

Riot Games’ Valorant is a fairly new game with the release date of June 2, 2020. The game has received enough attention to earn it several Esports teams, who play competitive tournaments of Valorant with other professional teams. Valorant is a tactical shooter game, where players are divided into two teams for a total of 25 rounds. The game offers a unique perspective for the player where they can choose from a variety of characters (agents) with abilities to enhance the gameplay, differing from other tactical shooter games that have limited customizability. The game is separated into different classes which offer different objectives, skills of agents, and killing abilities. Valorant matches are composed of five players per team where each team is deemed either defending or attacking, switching positions at halftime. To win the game, players need to win 13 rounds or earn a tie of 12-12 which leads to overtime. Each round lasts 100 seconds, creating an average of 30 to 75 minutes to complete an entire game. The stories of the characters, maps (the setting where the match takes place), and cultures bring the realm of interactive fiction into PC gaming. Valorant takes inspiration from previous interactive fictional PC games such as Counter-Strike Go (CSGO) while reigning unique for its fresh spin on first-person shooter perspectives.
The similarities in Valorant and CSGO are seen in the broader scope of the game rather than in the intricacies that are attributed to Valorant’s success. The similarities begin with the ability to change weapons mid-game. The animations that occur when changing weapons such as reloading ammunition, running, and shooting are similar to those in CSGO with the swift movement of the character’s hands that create a sort of virtual reality perspective for the player on the PC. The objective of the game is also the same: to diffuse the bomb set by the opposing team while killing opponents who get in the way. Both Valorant and CSGO also have a Death Match option, where players can practice their shooting aim and warm-up for competitive level games. Both Valorant and CSGO are also rank games: players are placed in a competitive rank based on their skills including aim, game knowledge, and teamwork. The complexities of Valorant are a result of five years of development time by Riot Games. Not only are there copious amounts of coding involved in the creation of a PC game beyond my ability to speak to, there are also preferences for the computer that is running the game; efficiency in the game is measured by the specs of the monitor and computer being used. Additionally, both games run on a similar level of interactive fiction. While it is true that players must navigate through the game, maps, and characters interactively with teammates and electronic functions, the games are not set up as continuous stories. Each time a player begins a new game, they are starting fresh rather than picking up where they previously left off. However, the player does take the role of the main character due to the first-person perspective in both games.
General differences between Valorant and CSGO are the ability to choose maps and characters. In CSGO, players can choose which map they want, whereas in Valorant the map is chosen for you. Valorant uses a generating system to choose the map for the player, representing randomness in the algorithm. The characters are significant to the games: players are able to pick a character to main with whereas CSGO does not allow the selection of characters, nor are their characters named. The only identification of characters comes from the team name of either terrorist or counter-terrorist. CSGO creates a more realistic tactical shooting scenario with guns that exist in real life and conditions on the maps that resemble real-world conditions. Although there are aspects of realism in Valorant, the incorporation of fantastical aspects set Riot’s game apart from others. The available weapons, such as Vandal or Phantom, are fictional. The Vandal is in place of the AK-47 and the Phantom is in place of the M4A1-S which are found in CSGO.
Perhaps the most significant difference between Valorant and CSGO is the inclusivity of various cultures in Valorant. For example, Valorant players see the Japanese culture shine through in weapon skin bundles: Elderflame and Sakura. The Elderflame bundle incorporates dragons on their gun skins, a legendary creature in Japanese mythology. Valorant’s website states, “each of the dragons would have their own unique personalities, which would come to life through all of their components working together,” highlighting the detailing involved in animations that differ from those in CSGO. The Sakura bundle incorporates cherry blossom patterns, another symbolic aspect of Japanese culture. The agent named Yoru’s Valorant’s description on the game says, “Japanese native Yoru rips holes straight through reality to infiltrate enemy lines unseen.” Additionally, the different agents have different loose accents based on their culture of origin. The fanbase of Valorant takes creativity into their own hands by creating characters and scenarios that they would want developers to implement in the game. Laura Bergin discusses the creation of Kitsune, who, “draws on ancient Japanese mythology, as the fox has become a major part of the country’s folklore. Foxes have been everything from shapeshifters to messengers, as well as being heavily intertwined with witchcraft and mysticism.” Bergin’s inspiration for Kitsune draws on the existing elements of Japanese culture in Valorant.
Eklund et al. discuss the incorporation of culture into video games in their article, “Lost in Translation: Video Games Becoming Cultural Heritage?” Eklund et al. argue, “In general, games have been construed as toys, dangers, or simply consumer objects, rather than as culturally legitimate” (446). While Valorant incorporates various cultures through skins, scenery, and character origins, the game is not to be taken as a history lesson. Rather, the incorporation of different cultures allows the game to appeal to a wider audience and offers inclusivity to a vast array of players. On a similar note, the incorporation of female characters in the game gives representation to a larger population as well, whereas the characters in CSGO are strictly male with no specified ethnicity or culture. For these reasons of representation, Valorant explores aspects of electronic literature and PC gaming in a fresh, exciting way for fans of Riot.
Valorant’s distinctive incorporation of cultures and fantastical elements of first-person shooting games is an exciting addition to the PC gaming world. The main functions of the game are similar to other PC games, CSGO, while offering a fresh look on electronic literature in the form of video games. The randomness in the generator of choosing maps, the fluidity of the animations, and the modernism of the content in the game set Valorant apart from other existing, tired games.

This entry was written as part of Dani Spinosa’s class, ENGL4309 at Trent University in the 2021 winter semester.