In 2020, Riot Games gained major popularity with their attempt at competing with Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. Their game, Valorant, would be deemed by many to be a spiritual successor to the previous Valve work. Both games share some staff and the core mechanic of being a 5v5 gun game based around planting and defusing bombs.
Knowing that Valorant is based around multiplayer gun and bomb violence, is it an okay game for children to play? Let’s explore what Valorant is and what parents need to know about it.
How is Valorant Played? Is There Violence?
As previously mentioned, Valorant is a 5v5 multiplayer hero-based shooter. One team will attempt to plant a “spike” in a certain location, while the other will attempt to prevent that or defuse the spike if planted. The spike is essentially a bomb that will explode in 45 seconds if not defused.
In order to achieve their goals, the two teams will attack each other using realistic-looking guns and special powers. Valorant matches will generally last between 30 and 40 minutes each.
Valorant offers a little bit of variety in gameplay, with some modes not being about bombs at all. For example, there is a game mode where you simply work together to kill the other team the most. There are also free-for-all matches, where all 10 players kill each other indiscriminately. Some of these modes disable characters’ special powers, leaving only guns as an option.
When it comes to violence, the style of Valorant prevents the game from being too mature. The characters and aesthetics of the game are reminiscent of a cartoon, with the guns being the most realistic-looking part.
Despite the guns being realistic by default, the game sells many cosmetics that make the guns look magical or more child-friendly. It is important to note that you can’t control what other player’s guns look like, only your own.
As for the actual depictions of violence, such as killing another player, Valorant gives parents a lot of control. In the settings of the game, both dead bodies and blood can be turned off entirely. Without enabling this setting, however, both will be shown by default. Regardless, the blood splatter is not realistic or inherently violent-looking even when enabled.
Multiplayer Interactions in Valorant
As Valorant is a multiplayer-only game, your child will constantly be exposed to other people. While a good chunk of the Valorant player base is made up of children, the vast majority are going to be teenagers and adults. There are no ways to specifically play with only other children.
Valorant offers players a way to communicate in the form of text chatting and voice chatting. While these modes of dialogue are moderated, the moderation will take place after an issue arises, it does not prevent an issue. Valorant is infamous in gaming communities for having a toxic and offensive player base, one that will frequently belittle and insult other players.
Fortunately for parents, you are not without options in Valorant.
Voice chat in the game can be disabled by clicking the star-shaped settings button in the top-right corner of the main menu.
Once you’ve found the Settings menu, you’re going to want to click Audio and then Voice Chat. In this menu, set the Incoming Volume and Mic Volume to zero. You should also mark Team Voice Chat, Party Voice Chat, and Party Voice During Custom Game as off.
Finally, just to be safe, set Party Voice Activation Mode to push to talk.
Unfortunately, when it comes to text chat, disabling it entirely is not possible. If a player is being rude or inappropriate in-game, however, they can be muted by pausing the game and toggling the Text Chat button next to their username. If Voice Chat has not been disabled, there will also be a Voice Chat toggle here for muting.
The final aspect of multiplayer interactions that we want to touch on is a privacy measure. Under General in the Settings menu, there is a section dedicated to privacy. From this section, parents can make it so their child’s username is not shown to other players by setting Hide my name from players outside my party.
This section will also allow hiding other players’ usernames, auto-rejecting random friend requests, and only allowing friends to invite your child to a party. Enabling all of these settings is likely best for an account that a child will be playing on.
What is Valorant’s Age Rating?
When it comes to rating video games for different age groups, there are two major rating boards that are relevant. For people in the U.S. and Canada, we have the ESRB. People in Europe, on the other hand, have PEGI ratings. Generally speaking, the two ratings are usually pretty close to each other, but sometimes they each add different context. We will briefly go over both of their ratings for Valorant.
The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) rates on a scale from “E” for “Everyone” to “M” for “Mature.” For Valorant, the ESRB rated the game as “T” for “Teen.” They cite the game’s blood, language, and violence as the reasons for this rating. They also mention that the game has multiplayer interactions and purchases in-game. We will cover those purchases in-game shortly.
When it comes to PEGI, on the other hand, Valorant was rated as being for ages 16 and above. The reason given for this rating is due to “strong violence” and “sustained depictions of violence towards human characters.” The PEGI rating also briefly mentions that the blood and dead bodies are not graphic and that the game features in-game purchases.
The takeaway from both of these ratings is that Valorant is a game best for teenagers and up, not young children. Even if the content isn’t too graphic, Valorant is a difficult game to play and requires players to understand the concept of money and buying. At the very least, we wouldn’t recommend it for players under 13 years of age.
What Does Valorant Cost? Is It Free to Play?
Valorant is an entirely free game to play. Players do not need to have a PS Plus or an Xbox Live Gold subscription to play it on a console either. The only thing you need to play Valorant is an internet connection.
Despite being entirely free-to-play, Valorant offers many in-game purchases. These purchases take the form of a currency, and the currency can be used to purchase cosmetic skins for guns, as well as to unlock new characters without grinding.
Valorant also offers a paid battle pass system, in which players spend a set fee every two months to unlock the ability to grind for exclusive cosmetics.
To give you all the information you need, we’ll list the different in-game purchase options and their respective prices in U.S. dollars.
- 475 Valorant Points: $4.99
- 1,000 Valorant Points: $9.99
- 2,050 Valorant Points: $19.99
- 3,650 Valorant Points: $34.99
- 5,350 Valorant Points: $49.99
- 11,000 Valorant Points: $99.99
So you’re aware of how much these prices will get you, here are some of the Valorant point costs. To unlock a new character without grinding, it’ll cost 1,000 Valorant points. Buying the battle pass will also cost 1,000 Valorant points.
Weapon skin prices range based on rarity, with some costing up to $3,550 Valorant points. There are also occasionally bundles that come with a lot of different skins, and the current one costs 7,100 Valorant points, for reference.
As Valorant is a game that is only available through the Riot Games launcher on PC, there are unfortunately no parental controls. This means that, if your child has access to your credit card information, there is no way to limit how much they can spend in Valorant.
Our recommendation here would be that if your kid ever wants to purchase something in Valorant and you allow them to, you should be the one to put in the credit card information and make sure that it does not save. Even the most trustworthy child could accidentally purchase something by clicking the wrong buttons, so it is better to be safe than sorry. Using PayPal to purchase Valorant points may offer an extra layer of protection.
Games Like Valorant
If you have decided that you do not want your children to play Valorant, we will cover some alternative games that are fun for kids. You can also check these out if your kid enjoyed Valorant and wants more games like it. We will discuss why the games are here and what they offer your child.
For children with a Nintendo Switch, Splatoon 3 is a kid-friendly shooter game developed by Nintendo. As opposed to using real guns, the characters in Splatoon shoot ink at each other and at the ground. You can think of Splatoon 3 as a paintball game. It has no blood, no dead bodies, and has a very cartoonish and kid-friendly style. It also features zero in-game purchases.
Overwatch 2 is another free-to-play, 5v5 hero-based shooter game. It also features in-game purchases and a cartoonish style. In many ways, it is extremely close to Valorant when it comes to content and kid-friendliness. The reason we’re mentioning it is because it is available on all consoles, not just PCs. This means that it can be played with parental controls enabled. It also has a focus on diversity and positivity.
Many parents are likely already aware of ROBLOX. This LEGO-like game is one of the most popular games for kids around and is available on all consoles except Nintendo Switch. We’re recommending it here with a few severe caveats.
ROBLOX is, at its core, a game engine and academic tool. ROBLOX will allow kids to make their own games while learning a scripting language known as LUA in the process. Due to this, though, all the games on ROBLOX are made by other players, and thus they can vary drastically in content. Most content that would be too mature is locked behind age verification or deleted from the site, but sometimes things can slip through the cracks.
ROBLOX is multiplayer-only and also features in-game purchases (parental controls are present).
Valorant is an inherently violent game, but it hides it well. The cartoonish aesthetic and ample privacy settings allow it to not require too high of an age rating. That said, it isn’t an easy game to understand and is probably best left for teenagers.
If your child does play it, privacy settings should be enabled beforehand and they may need a little help understanding what is happening. Parents should also remain aware of how much their child is spending on the game, as the lack of parental controls will work against them.