Saturday 13 October 2018

3 Ways That Rage Quitters Hurt Themselves The Most

3 Ways That Rage Quitters Hurt Themselves The Most

By Casey Douglass

Image used freely from the excellent Gratisography.

The game is barely minutes old, a blank canvas on which the victor will eventually write their dominance. Someone falls. A sound chimes, and an icon appears with a line through it. That person has disconnected. Your heart sinks. Your task is much harder now. Like dominoes, your teammates begin to fall. Another disconnects. The game seems already lost. You sigh.

If you’ve played any online competitive video-game, the previous scene will likely be familiar to you. Any game which sees people play against others runs the risk of being blighted by drop-outs, disconnections, and rage quits. Not everyone who leaves will do so in a rage, or even become a serial rage quitter. Sometimes games crash, and at other times, life gets in the way. It’s the serial rage quitters that I want to focus on here, someone who likely has no idea of the ways in which they are compounding their own misery.

A “satisfying” rage quit seems to involve a number of elements, but each contains a seed of misery that will eventually bite the quitter in the backside:

Hollow Victories

First is the idea that you are getting one over on your inept teammates or the other side, somehow depriving them of something or punishing them for a perceived misdeed. While this maybe true, they might actually come away from that game having had one of the best games of their lives. In my own experience on a variety of games, a rage quit on the team doesn’t mean the end of the game. It might make for a harder game, a game in which the odds of you winning are reduced, but there is still fun to be had in trying to turn things around. And if you succeed... you’ll probably be so satisfied that you’ll be beaming from ear to ear. This is an experience a rage quitter will likely never encounter.

Hair-Trigger Emotions

Another element to a rage quit is the changing of feelings in the quitter. Whichever emotion might have been slowly (or thunderously) building, such as anger, frustration or hopelessness, it will be replaced by the above mentioned feeling of smug satisfaction at “getting one over” on the remaining players. Okay, congratulations Mr or Mrs R. Quitter, you’ve just lowered your tolerance for any “unpleasant” emotion going forward, and set the trigger in your brain to engage at even milder situations.

Having worked through Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, I know a fair amount about thoughts, feelings, and the actions we take to alter them. One of the first things I mastered was the idea that if we give into one thought, one time, the chances are higher that we will do it a second time. This is due to all kinds of stuff like neural plasticity, habit forming and reward mechanisms etc. which is a really interesting Google Expedition if you fancy it at some point.

As far as gaming and rage quitting, if you rage quit after a certain thing happening, maybe you die to friendly fire in a first person shooter, the chances are reasonably good that this will trigger you again more easily next time it happens. While you are in this “games have to go my way” frame of mind, you will slowly expand your “Conditions in which I Quit” list, and if you don’t find some degree of self-awareness beforehand, you'll find that what you need to happen in a game to have fun will become an increasingly narrow band of possibility. Basically, rage quitters, by escalating their quitting behaviour, reduce the chances of finding any fun or enjoyment in a game that they really want to enjoy.

No Chance of Improvement

Finally, a rage quitter might justify their leaving as “I can get into a fun game more quickly” or something similar. Yes, this might be true, but even if this new game meets your growing criteria for fun, have you improved as a gamer? In so many competitive events, whether games, sports or even a quiz night at the pub, it is often possible to learn far more from losing a game than from winning. A rage quitter, by leaving the game early, kills dead any chance of improving their skills, tactics, or mindset, and simply lock themselves into the cycle of continuous annoyance at the game and the other people that play it.

Turning It Around

Is any of this what we want from our gaming hobby? To reduce our chances of enjoyment? To not grow or improve as gamers or even as people, to stunt our ability to be civil and to enjoy competition with others in a healthy way? That sounds like a very sad reflection of what gaming should be.

We can’t control how other players decide to play a game. We can control how we play and react to it. Gaming isn’t always fun and joyous. You can’t win every game, or even have fun every game, but what you can do is take the losses and the frustrations as part of the whole package, learn what you can from them, and enjoy the games that you can. 

If you see someone rage quit during a game, beyond the irritation and annoyance, see if there is a little sadness in your heart for someone who could soon find themselves adrift from their favourite game. 

If you are a rage quitter yourself, as an experiment, the next time you feel the urge to leave a game, stick it out and see what happens. You might come out of the experience pleasantly surprised, even if it is just at the way that your feelings may have changed or mellowed as the likely defeat played out. Who knows.

Thanks for reading :).