GLHF is a series that looks to better understand the dynamics of sportsmanship in video games, today we are taking a look at how manners are being disregarded and anger is manifested among players. If you like this article please feel free to check out the rest of the series: pt. 1: Sportsmanship in video games, pt. 2: Selfishness / Noncompetitive play, pt. 3: Kindness, pt. 4: Respect, pt 6: Toxicity, pt 7: Honorably Growing Culture, pt 8: Sadness & Defeat, pt 9: How to play for friendship, and pt 10: What we’ve learned.
Rage quitting is an interesting phenomenon in games. When we face problems in our lives we sometimes quit, we give up, and give in to our frustrations. In competitive video games it is much more dramatic; after competing and believing that they can not recover, some players will furiously quit out of the game they are playing. Some opponents try to taunt their enemy to get them to rage quit as well, while others apologize to the enemy team for having a rage quitter. In the end rage quitting is a visceral combination of anger and doubt.
Extra credits did an excellent job of explaining the importance of holding out in a competitive game which you can see here: Episode 300: Letters to My Nephews – Never Giving Up – Extra Credits.
The most dramatic example of rage quitting I have ever encountered came from playing with a friend of mine. I arrived at my friend Nick’s house and the PlayStation was on in the living room with Madden running. I knew this wasn’t a game that he would buy and indeed it belonged to his friend Mark who had brought it over.
Mark was an ultra-competitive gamer who had actually competed professional in Call of Duty tournaments. Suffice it to say he was a pain to play against because even though as a Ludologist, I understood games better than he did, he could beat me in pretty much any game we played together through his mechanical prowess. Not only that but for some reason I was highly susceptible to raging when coming into contact with his particular brand of gloating.
So when he asked if I wanted to play him with a giant smile on his face I knew I was in for a rough time. I said “sure” and grabbed the second controller. I don’t really follow sports or football so I had very little to go off of, meanwhile Nick told me about how Mark had spent the last few days building a custom team with the best players.
I decided to go with the 49ers because I’m from the greater Bay Area and had heard their strengths were in their defense and their quarterback. I figured that since the AI commanded most of the defensive moves I would have my weaknesses covered and would only need to focus on performing offensively.
As the match started I was clearly getting outplayed by Mark who was laughing at how easily he took down my offensive plays. However, my team of brilliant, AI controlled players were catching interceptions left and right. I scored one touchdown, then another, then another. On offense I was pulling out mechanical tricks I learned back in the days of NFL Blitz, where I would sprint the QB away from the line of scrimmage and then leap into the air and throw the ball to my furthest receiver, a Hail Mary for 70 yards! Somehow they all landed to Mark’s dismay.
As he began to see that his perfect team was going to lose, and to the likes of me, Mark got up and left the room stomping down the hallway and shouting how the game is B.S.. Nick, who delighted in seeing his boastful friend literally beat as his own game, picked up the first controller and starts diving out of the way for me to score even more touchdowns, laughing so heartily that it echoed throughout his house. As the game finished with an insane score following a phenomenal rage quit, Mark came back into the room only to eject the disc from the PlayStation and snap it in half.
Nick later told me that I was not the only one to beat Mark’s perfect team, but that I had been the one to push him to the edge.
This is one of the most over-the-top reactions to losing that I have ever witnessed. A player who not only quits a match but destroys the game itself. Losing can be a difficult thing to face and it can be easy to succumb to anger at one’s poor performance or flat out bad luck. Yet, I have learned a lot from holding out and finishing a game because sometimes, at the 11th hour, I or my team and I win in an upset. Fighting to the end gives you a chance to come back, rage quitting forfeits that chance to one’s fears and emotions.
Have you or your friends ever rage quit from a game? How did that make you feel about the match? Do you think it’s an example of someone lacking self control? Or do you understand it as a normal human reaction to failure? What do you feel causes you or someone else to rage quit instead of just playing a game through? I welcome discussion on this topic and if you have experiences of your own you wish to share please respond to the thread for this article, or talk to me through my email or any of my social media: firstname.lastname@example.org.