Monday Musings: Why So Mad, My Brother? a.k.a. Rage Quitting, Competition, and Video Games

So this past weekend, I had the chance to participate in the Street Fighter V beta testing, reliving my passions for fighting-based video games born in my youth going to Atlanta arcades.  I had a lot of fun with it, learned a few things about myself, and had my share of success and loss.  It’s competition.  That happens.  No one wins every game!  However, it also let me experience (something I have seen before but never really pondered) one of the most unique phenomenon to competitive online video games: the rage quit.

In essence, it is the online equivalent of taking one’s ball and going home.  When the rage quitter is outmatched and loosing a game, even at the moment of their defeat, he/she literally breaks the internet connection.  In many games, this prevents the game from granting rewards for the winner’s victory and penalties for the quitter’s defeat.  This zero-sum solution was chosen by most games as a nod that they expect most disconnects to be legitimate, caused by internet outages or connection issues, not upset losers pulling their network cables.

Now, one could consider this to be a purely calculated move, an effort to preserve one’s online standings and ranking.  In some cases, this may be accurate.  In most cases, though, it’s purely ego-driven.  Why do I think that?  Because these guys still rage quit when there’s no consequences.  You know, like in a Beta of a game where no records are being kept.

Why haven’t we seen this before, in previous competitive sports and activities?  Well, we have, of course, but never really to the extent you see it online gaming.  It comes down to the combination of anonymity of the online world combined with the ease of the exit.  All it takes is a button press or two or popping a cable free to slip out of a loss with no consequences, preserving a fragile ego with a great unlikelihood of ever running into or being recognized by your victim again.

In time, online gaming will put into place more ways to identify and punish rage quitters, but there will always be people who can’t accept loss and will do anything to duck it.  In the end, fortunately, they only hurt themselves.  By focusing so much on covering up defeat, they loose their chance to learn from that defeat and get better.

Well, we’re back to literary cuisine on Wednesday!  Until then, good reading, good writing, and good luck!


  1. Some game developers have become wise to this, and though it may not appear to do so on the client side, they profile those people server side. In one occasion (I can’t remember which game it was), all the poor sports got siphoned off to a particular server to only connect with other poor sports. Pretty ingenious solution…

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