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Are Video Games Truly ‘Pro’ Women: Valorant vs Overwatch

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCF chapter.

Video games have been marketed for men from the moment they were created. Being a woman in this space is hard, especially when a lot of the community has become too accustomed to just being for men. Women might be intimidated to join these communities, so I’ll be discussing my experience in two of my favorite games, to help you grasp a glimpse of what it is to be a woman in the gaming scene, and what companies have done to make the environment safer for us.


Valorant has been one of the most popular games since its release in 2020. Its similarities with CSGO and Overwatch attracted fans from both games. I was invited to play by one of my friends the day it was released, but knowing a lot of the CSGO community was actively moving to Valorant made me skeptical of even playing the game at all. The toxicity towards women was at an all-time high, especially when Valorant, like CSGO, was being dominated by men. Still, I decided to play with my friend. 

And, surprisingly, it went better than anticipated. 

I found myself enjoying the game style of Valorant, especially when I had grown tired of the toxicity and irritating competitive METAS of Overwatch. 

But how long did this honeymoon stage last with Valorant? 

Not very long. The moment I began playing solo, other men in my team started to make vulgar statements and ask sexist questions. 

“Do you have an OnlyFans?”

“Are you an e-girl?”

“Go back to the kitchen!”

“I’m going to r*pe you.”

“Which man in the team is boosting you?

These questions were constantly thrown in my direction, and all I could do was sit there confused as to why any of those things mattered in the game. 

Regardless of how good I was throughout the match, or whether I got MVP of the team, the fact that I was a woman was enough for my teammates to perceive me as inferior.  There was no room for mistakes, if I could not kill an enemy in a 1v1, the harassment that would follow was enough to make my anxiety rise. But my male teammates could make mistakes, or be at the bottom of the leaderboard, and no one would say a thing. 

“Sorry guys, I’m just having an off game.” they could say, and everyone would be understanding. I, of course, wasn’t given the same treatment. 

So here is where the question arises. Is Valorant truly ‘pro’ women? 

To give a quick answer, I do think Valorant does a better job at protecting women, but it’s not at the level of protection it should be. 

A lot of the toxicity I faced was mostly during the first year of the game being launched, which can be expected as the company had yet to implement in their system to make it easier to ban these players for being toxic and abusive towards women. My experience with the game during its first year does not compare to my experience now. The company takes reports very seriously, I have reported male players for their behaviors towards me, and in less than 24 hours, I would receive a report stating they were banned from the game. 

The toxicity also died down as the years progressed, especially during quarantine and plenty of women became interested in FPS games, or games in general. I began to queue into games and discovered that half of my teammates were women or part of the LGBTQ+ community. There begins to be a shift in the Valorant community, with more diversity not only in-game but also with the agents we play as. Just last week, Riot (the company Valorant is under) released a new non-binary agent. The response to that agent was of course mixed, but that’s a discussion for another article. 

Due to the shift in Valorant, I could go weeks without being faced with toxic teammates, which made me enjoy the game more. I even recommended Valorant to many women interested in joining video games. 

Valorant, like any game, still has a toxic community, but when compared to other games, the toxicity as a woman has decreased, or at least, becomes less frequent when other men in the team begin to fight these sexist players. At times, these toxic behaviors come from little boys, and not men, which makes it easier to get them banned the moment they say slurs.


Overwatch was released in 2016 and it became one of the first games I obsessed over. I was only 16 when I began to play the game, but I could tell I was not the same as my male teammates, nor did the company protect me as they should. As soon as I went over the heroes in the game, I found myself interested in playing Tank, a role that at the time, and perhaps even now, is mostly played by men. Playing tank was my main role, yet when I would queue in competitively, my teammates would sigh and just mutter, “We have a woman on the team, gg.” As if the game was bound to be lost just because I was in it. 

It didn’t matter if I played my role perfectly, it would always be my fault. I would be told to just play support, because that’s the role for women. I think that’s the reason I steered clear from playing roles that are more popular among women. I didn’t have the freedom to play whatever hero I wanted out of fear of being harassed by my male teammates. 

Overwatch was a game I would play all the time after school, even with the toxicity, my fascination for the game was stronger than the treatment I received. 

But, what has the company, Blizzard, done to protect women?

I could not give you a concrete answer, especially when as I was working on this article, my account was banned completely. Meaning I can no longer log in and play in it. You might be wondering what atrocity I must have done to receive such harsh treatment. 

Here is my confession…

Defending myself. I was defending myself from a toxic player, and I guess the chat records showcased me throwing an insult or two in their direction, and that was enough to punish me instead of the perpetrator. I wasn’t sad, just disappointed. Overwatch has been a game I could always go in for a quick match and chill, so being treated like this was just… disappointing. And I know the other person was not punished, they never are. Not in Overwatch.

But, I still think Overwatch is a good game to play if you want to chill for an hour or two. If you play on the mode of quickplay, no one uses voice chat, so it’s easier to escape from harsh behavior. I might create a new account in the future and play occasionally, but I don’t think Overwatch is a game to play constantly or competitively. The game has a diverse cast of heroes, at times better than Valorant, especially when it comes to body types and sexuality, but it does not shadow the reality of the toxic community it possesses; which seems like a waste when compared to the heroes they offer to the players and the gameplay that’s fun to play in.

Both games have good qualities as well as, flaws, my experience with these games does not represent the one of all women; so I recommend trying each game and forming your conclusions accordingly. You will face players who will avoid games for the mere fact you, as a woman, have spoken in voice chat. Others will throw games because they think it’s fun to ruin the experience for women. However, we can’t allow these behaviors to intimidate us from joining communities that have always been dominated by men. More women have begun to play Valorant or Overwatch, and companies are acknowledging their audience is just not that of the white male, and it can be perceived in the way they try to appeal to their diverse audience.

As someone who has played video games their entire life, I can tell progress has been made. If we continue to be in these spaces, there will be a moment where behaviors like the ones of those men will be punished harshly.

María León is a current UCF senior majoring in Creative Writing with a minor in renaissance and medieval studies, and a certificate in publishing and editing. She is from Venezuela and hopes to become a published author in the nearing future. Her passion for literature first allured her into writing as she wishes to publish stories that normalizes POCs as protagonists in the world of fantasy. María is one of two fiction editors for Cypress Dome magazine (2023-24) at UCF. And since her arrival to the university in 2022, María has been a volunteer proofreader/editor for the Jonhson's Dictionary Project. One of her main hobbies aside from reading and writing is video games, especially FPS games like Valorant and Overwatch. María has always been aware of the disparity between sexes in this environment, so she desires to create a safe space for women in video games during her time at HerCampus.