ByKen McDonnell, writer at
Now Loading's sentimental Irishman. I can't stop playing Overwatch, please send help.
Ken McDonnell

To rage quit, or not to rage quit -- that is the question.

As gamers, rage quitting is an inherent part of our lives. Whether we engage in it ourselves or suffer from those that indulge, it is a phenomenon that impacts us in a variety of ways. And it's actually something born from our passion. 'Rage quitting' as a term was coined by the online gaming community during its infancy. I can't exactly scrounge up a date for you, but it's technically ours.

Now, however, the phrase has crossed over and firmly planted itself within the public lexicon, used to describe all manner of situations. Like quitting your job, for example:

But for us nerdy folk it's a term that describes the moment when a person, in a fit of rage, quits the game they're playing. Maybe the server connection was awful, maybe the same boss killed them 49 times, or perhaps another player griefed them past their breaking point; regardless of the circumstances the result is the same. And seeing as I was violently close to it myself last night after a particularly taxing day with Overwatch's flawed Competitive Mode (more on that later), I thought I'd talk about rage quitting, getting angry at games and...well...why it happens.

Why Do We Rage?

Rage quitting is such a prevalent phenomenon in multiplayer games that players now demand developers to have a plan in place for punishing said quitters, and they've all approached the issue in innovative ways.

For instance, Mortal Kombat X will make you watch your characters head blow up if you quit, Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 implemented a system that siphoned quitters off into a separate pool of sore losers who were all confined to playing with each other, and you can actually be banned from Overwatch's competitive season if you quit too often. Amazing that we actually need these plans in the first place.

Though I legitimately struggle to conjure examples of myself actually rage quitting multiplayer games, this in no way infers that I don't get angry. So, so, so far from it. I've been furious with certain video games in the past and inanimate objects in my immediate vicinity have suffered the consequences. But apparently this can happen to anyone who plays video games, according to science.

A scientific study was carried out by the University of Rochester to see whether video games actually make people angry. For anyone that's played them before you'll undoubtedly know the outcome: They make us angry.

In one experiment, researchers had participants stick their hands in "painfully cold water" for 25 seconds. Then, they had everyone play Tetris on different difficulty settings and afterwards asked them to set a time for someone else to stick their hands in similarly painful water. Those who played a more difficult version of the game, on average, elected for strangers to stick their hands in cold water for 10 seconds more than the people who played easy Tetris. This proves that a session with a difficult video game makes you frustrated. Richard Ryan, one of the study’s authors and a psychologist at University Of Rochester, wanted to make something else quite clear:

There you have it, the people that play Candy Crush are just as liable to become frustrated as those that play Call Of Duty. But all of this frustration likely stems from the fact that video games are supposed to be fun. They're designed to be an escape from daily life; an entertaining pastime. When those expectations aren't met we naturally get angry. But I think there's more to all of this than unmet expectations.

Insecurity & Self-Esteem

Richard Ryan references "the competitiveness in games [and] the frustration you can have about [failing to] master [them]." He believes that post-game aggression is amplified by the player's own analysis of their performance. We make ourselves angry.

Which brings me back to Overwatch. I'm obsessed with this game. I'm not someone who plays a lot of multiplayer games, especially shooters, but I can't stop.

Recently, Blizzard released a new mode for the game called Competitive Mode. Essentially, you can play against teams of people that have been similarly rated to yourself. But in order to rise the social ladder you'll need to win several matches in a row as losses kick you down a lot faster. Now this mode needs work. Blizzard will need to introduce numerous updates before Competitive Mode runs as smoothly as Overwatch's standard way of playing (even though that has its own frustrations, too). But this rational certainly didn't help my mood.

I understand that losing in video games is naturally frustrating; the University Of Rochester proved that much. But I think I took these losses far too personally. They were assaults on my self-esteem. I'm no proclaimed master of Overwatch, but I thought I was pretty good. I've gotten plenty of Play of the Games and am adept with a handful of the characters. But Competitive Mode had a skinny Irish lad tearing up his apartment, questioning everything. It was the closest I've ever come to rage quitting an online game and I'm sure my neighbors were not at all impressed. But I allowed that to happen.

I love video games. They encompass my work and social life, and yes, they're also a source of frustration and soul-crushing defeats. But I only get as angry as I allow myself to be.

I wouldn't describe myself as a particularly aggressive individual, but video games can teach us a lot about ourselves. Maybe we all need a good rage quit every now and then in order to transpose our frustrations with everyday life on to something menial. Maybe we need to break a controller or two in order to unleash tensions and realize that we have a lot of anger. Or maybe we're all self-conscious nerds who enjoy screaming at inanimate objects. What do you think?

Are you a rage quitter?


Do you rage quit video games?

Sources - Header Image (Noah-Tenshin)


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