Hags of Lag – Rage

Let’s not mince around the topic here.

Gamer Rage is infamous in the game community. To those who aren’t part of it? It can be simply described as the lack of sportsmanly behaviour. It can be racism/sexism/homophobia as seen in various slurs bandied around.

Games have gotten more competitive and much like sports where “Trash Talk” is common enough it abounds in games. However most sports have codified rules of behaviour that are heavily enforced. You may be the most talented person on the pitch but you cannot yell the sort of profanities anyone who plays “competitively” is used to. By competitively, I mean vs. another human opponent.

Video Games are becoming sports much like Chess. The skill and talent and strategy is undeniable even if people don’t understand it. It requires practice to be that good and there is a world of difference between a casual player and the guys who play e-sports.

Video game rage is not a new phenomenon. YouTube is rife with videos of people — teenagers and adults alike — experiencing so-called “video game freakouts” or “rage quitting.”

‘You will lose or you will fail. That’s the frustrating thing. Especially if you’re playing an arcade-style game; they’re set up so that you will lose.’—Marc Ouellette, Learning Games Initiative

My generation grew up with the Arcade’s Death Knell. Arcade games were designed to make you lose. Losing was a greater part of the game than winning.

But with the advent of the home console the onus become on the experience rather than the difficulty.

While rage stemming from video games is common, there are different theories about what triggers it. Some suggest it’s the violent images in the games, but a 2011 study conducted by researchers (By one Mr. Adachi) at Brock University indicated that the most influential factor in video game rage is the level of competition involved. The PDF is here.

The first thing the non-player sees is the violence. But we have seen rage in sports. Let’s look at a high tension match. The France vs. Italy finals where Zinedine Zidane (one of the most elegant footballers to grace the game) lost it and headbutted Marco Matterazi (one of the finest defenders of the same generation). Football isn’t violent. It’s even a non-contact sport. What caused the violence and the anger was the competition and the stakes.

Adachi conducted two experiments that consisted of students aged 17 to 19 playing both violent and non-violent video games and saw how they were linked to gamer rage and found out that it was competition more than violence that caused anger. The more competitive, the more anger seen.

So the kind of rage you see in Call of Duty or League of Legends (if you play then go join JT’s team) is not due to the game’s content but due to the game’s competition.

There is a lot of positive effects of competition. However we as gamers require ideas such as League of Legends Tribunal to work to enforce good sportsmanship. We reward good sportsmanship in other sports, so why not in our games?

As I said a lot of the arsehole behaviour is down to there being no value to sportsmanship. The man who sprouts racist things about the Dutch may be the strongest player on your team so has you over a barrel because the ability to win is more important than the feelings of any Dutchmen you play against. We need to change that.

We need to show people that rage hurts them, the community and their game.


  1. glodson says

    The stupidity spouted by idiots is why I often mute everyone when I play online. And why I’m not normally into playing online to begin with.

    It is hard to be want a part of a community when a subset of that community behaves like a bunch of assholes. Kill them, they scream. They kill you, they scream.

    While it is there, it isn’t everyone. Maybe, like you put it, if more us refuse to deal with this bullshit and try to encourage good behavior, it will get better. It isn’t that I’m against trash talk. It is part of the game. But there’s a difference between talking a little trash, and being a massive douchebag.

  2. CaitieCat says

    This is why I’ve been thinking seriously recently about trying to set up a site dedicated to be a progressive gaming club: a place where people who want to play online with others who don’t want to put up with this kind of abuse can find opponents/teammates/others with the same attitude. I don’t tend to appreciate trash talk myself, but maybe that’s because I’ve only ever experienced it with the full-on misogynist hatred that usually accompanies it.

    Problem is, I know my depression would make it very, very hard to do it by myself.

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