The 'Valorant' Closed Beta Key System Doubles as a Crowdsourced Tutorial

Competitive multiplayer games can have a tough time of onboarding new players, especially games with a lot of complexity like MOBAs. Games like DOTA 2 and League of Legends launched without in game tutorials, but the community picked up the torch of making tutorial videos and trying to help new players join their favorite pastime. Eventually, these games did get in game tutorials and onboarding, but even so they only broke the surface of their game's full mechanics. Learning while playing is like a tutorial unto itself, but when a game is highly competitive, it can be difficult to understand what went wrong when you're starting out.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/v749gb/valorant-closed-beta-key-system-crowdsourced-tutorial-waypoint-radio

The post-pod today was Waypoint at its most Thumbsian. Fitting that Chris Remo got a shout-out. Here’s the song referenced in the pod: https://chrisremo.bandcamp.com/track/this-is-the-time-we-have-prepared-for

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I haven’t played either game yet, but from the description of Receiver 2 it sounds like it goes beyond just being a story about depression and suicide? The mechanical act of disarming a weapon sounds like it’s saying something very specific, about how the access to guns streamlines the progression of thoughts -> ideations -> attempt, and mirrors harm mitigations strategies like locking away knives and other sharp objects when you feel an episode coming on.

Of course, the execution sounds somewhat clumsy, but given this mixed reactions to Receiver 1’s themes this is probably to be expected

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I’m working on a bigger piece about it, but I would say “clumsy execution” is an understatement.

R2 adds so many journal entries that paint surprisingly grounded stories of mental illness and suicidal ideation that you would think “oh, this is a game making a statement about mental illness.” Except it’s not.

The game pretty explicitly says “mental illness isn’t real, anywhere you see it it’s actually The Threat, a literal malevolent force from another plane of existence,” and then goes on to say that the way to combat it’s control over you mind is mindfulness, social support structures, avoiding media (the avenue by which The Threat bleeds onto our plane), oh, and of course rigorous firearms training. It decides to fictionalize and invalidate instead of genuinely engaging the topic, which feels really scummy.

I didn’t know about the cult culture inspired aspect of Receiver 1, which makes a lot of sense in retrospect, and honestly is still largely intact in R2. There could be an argument that since just about all of the journals / audiologs come from the receiver cult that the scummyness is intentional they could be a case of untrustworthy narration. Except that the game begins post-Mindkill, the predicted apocalypse they have been preparing for, just reinforcing that everything about The Threat and the non-existence of mental illness in this world is accurate.

It’s a huge bummer. They knew what the game was going to touch upon whether they wanted it to or not, but rather then take ownership and make a statement on those subjects, they just twist themselves to desperately lampshade and then not be about those topics, and really just wind up shooting themselves in the foot.

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