Two cartoon people yelling at each other.
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Gamer Rage: When Gaming Is No Longer an Escape

Jan 31, 2018
(Image via Pixabay.)

Threads pop up every so often on various MOBA subreddits discussing gamer rage issues. A lot of players are aware that they have a problem, but don’t know how to deal with it, or in some cases, don’t care to deal with it. This has a ripple effect on other players, and causes a negative experience for others in the game.

Think about all the pub ruiners you’ve met in-game. Think about every single person who had demanded mid, not gotten it, and proceeded to feed for the rest of the game. It’s certainly not a small number of players. Most major games have a system in place to deal with players who rage or flame at others. AnyKey, an organization founded between ESL and Intel, also has an initiative to tackle toxicity and gamer rage.

Developer Solutions to Flaming

Dota has its Low Priority system, which unfortunately has the side effect of punishing people who play unpopular heroes (Techies), or people who have a poor internet connection. Heroes of the Storm has a report system, but a lot of players say they are often matched up again with people they’ve reported. League of Legends has a system that  allows players to report AFK-ers and flamers (among other negative aspects of game play), but a lot of players are still unsatisfied. Overwatch has a report system, but again, some players think the punishments are too minor to matter.

Why So Serious?

Why do some players get so worked up in-game? Almost everyone plays games to win, but many people stop short of full-on rage when a game doesn’t go their way.

[Serious] A flamers perspective on the Low Priority System. from DotA2

Insights about Low Priority aside, the original poster here voices some good points. Video games are supposed to be fun; they are an escape from reality, a way to earn some kind of achievement, and an easy way to play games with friends. However, for some players, these games become the spark that sets off uncontrollable rage.

When someone is set off, gaming is no longer an escape for others on the team; instead, it becomes source of torment. While some players presumably get upset with the quality of their own play, flaming is usually overwhelmingly directed at fellow players, whether it be for perceived bad play by a teammate, or taunting the enemy team.

Why Can’t We All Just Get Along?

Some players realize that their game of choice has stopped being fun, which sometimes makes them take a break from playing for a while. It’s alright to be angry at your support for forgetting to pull camps, but it’s not alright to go off on a rage bender full of slurs in chat. Often, when threads about flamers show up online, there are a number of comments along the lines of “grow a thicker skin.” Some players seem unable to differentiate between a “reasonable” response and a blatant overreaction. Feeding the courier isn’t a reasonable response to your carry accidentally giving up first blood.

Nobody likes having a teammate who rages at them for mistakes. While there are professional players known for their bad attitudes or fits of anger, they’re not all that common. Playing at the professional level is different than a pub game, as there’s usually money and a career on the line, but the pros manage to keep it together (at least on the outside). If there is a player who doesn’t get along with the team, they are usually dropped from the roster.

Flamers ruin the game for others on their team, and sometimes, even the players on the opposing team. Raging takes something that a player presumably enjoys, and turns it into something that makes them unhappy.

The next time you’re thinking about flaming someone in a game, think about the effect that your rage is having on your mood and your play. It might make you feel better in the short term to yell at your carry for not buying a blink dagger all game, but ultimately, you’ll just fixate on it until it makes you crazy. It will not bring you contentment.

If you find yourself getting angry at your teammates for sucking, think of the game as being on “extra hard” mode: you need to play that much better to make up for where they’re falling short.

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Kara Jacobacci
Kara has been following professional DotA2 since the TI4 qualifiers. When not watching matches on Twitch, she can be found working (or attempting to find work) as a geologist and enjoying nature.
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