A Socio-cultural Analysis of the Rage Quit

Rage Quit: To leave a game early due to the persistent and abhorrent failures experienced within it.

‘Throwing the poker chips, flipping the Monopoly board, unplugging the Nintendo, taking your ball and going home.’[1] 

William Congreve once famously said “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned”. He was also born in the 17th century and never played on a games console; so what does he really know about hell’s fury?

Living behind the veil of popular meme culture, the Rage Quit is embodied by table flipping stick figures, psychotic dinosaurs, and self-mutilating cartoons, but behind the emphatically relatable messages that these mascots of anger spread, the rage quit is a phenomenon that has sickened the multiplayer experience like a feverish plague; leaving behind slews of broken controllers, headsets and television screens. As mentioned above, there are many other platforms in which we can be the victim of the rage quit, but thanks to the immersive experience of violent, dopamine-sodden multiplayer video games, the reaction to our failures in the more modern virtual battlegrounds are nothing short of primal.

The reality of the rage quit wasn’t truly made clear until the era of the gaming Troll emerged on YouTube. This was a time where my generation of young teens could easily waste hours listening to people rage quitting an online game after being brutally trolled throughout. These videos were an instant hit and hundreds of YouTubers suffocated the website with their own rage quit renditions. The video below has over 60,000 views and is a prime example of the ‘rage quit showcase’ sensation.

As a spectator, it’s easy to laugh at the poor fools who fell victim to these nasty plights, and even easier to think that you’d never reach the temperament they did, but you’d be surprised…

As a completionist player, I’ve faced my fair share of obstacles in order to fully execute the mission at hand. The first that come to mind include the bridge level from Halo 2 (which was wasn’t even particularly difficult, I was just young and stupid), and defeating Shao Khan in MK9 – with that f*ckin’ Thor’s hammer thing thatshao he threw *godDAMMIT I hated that guy*. Most recently was a couple of years back when Call of Duty: Black Ops II, with its prestigious, esteemed Diamond Camo, was all the rage (pardon the pun). One of the challenges involved in unlocking it was earning a certain amount of kills without dying, and I SWEAR TO THE GODS that every player on the enemy team had a murderous grudge against me whenever I even bothered going for the challenges. The frustration that goes into completing these types of missions are physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually draining (if you are indeed one to turn to the Lord for help in these situations) but you can only imagine the feeling you get when they’re done…though I’ll spare you the details.

With age my priorities no longer involved sending Skorpion to the Shadow Realm, and my passion for completing games began to simmer as I became the more casual player that I am today. Video games now provide more of an unwind than the mental challenges they once were, and for a long time I couldn’t see any reason for why a grown man could just smash his console in a fit of anger. Sure, I’d get pissed if something  didn’t go to plan or my team wasn’t pulling their weight, but after a short deep breath, I’d be back in my zone.

In this respect, I was ignorant – and unjustifiably so. For so long I’d seen the existence of rage quitting in the context of spoilt twelve year old squeakers or overweight twenty-something year olds living in their parents’ basement. All I saw was ingratitude, pettiness, and a lack of grace in those who swore the house down for losing a duel to a collection of pixels, until I realised something I’d known all along.

As I said, video games provide a period of unwind and escape from the real world. Though the games we play are usually gruesome battlegrounds of war, those worlds are infinitely less chaotic than the one we live in. The real world. Behind the screen awaits hoards of brainless violent escapism from the pressing nature of work, of earning a living and paying bills. Of watching your parents grow old and knowing that just like the Grunts you slaughter in Halo, just like the Hellspawn you butcher in Doom, just like the endless waves of soldiers you cut down, death is certain but knowing when is not. When things don’t go well in the virtual realm, why should you put up with it anymore than you do with your boss, neighbour or roommate tomorrow? It’s doubtlessly unfair and unjust that our romanticised world of bloodthirsty hedonism should turn against us in our time of need; from the pressures of homework and early nights.

And so, I suppose it’s only natural that our reaction to this escape should accentuate itself in the real world; the reaction to these failures are nothing short of primal.



Featured Image

17 thoughts on “A Socio-cultural Analysis of the Rage Quit

  1. On a completely unrelated note, which timezone do you live in? You’re swift to reply and that can mean that you don’t sleep at all or live in the same timezone.
    Not complaining though.


  2. Absolutely! If you commit a few days of practice, you’ll be able to do well without even thinking about it, gaming skill is all about muscle memory. Now go forth and ‘splode some heads!


  3. Lol! Good question. Matthew, the thing is, I went to a gaming arena and decided that I needed to venture outside of my comfort zone of racing games. So, where do I begin! First of all, 5 head shots is the maximum I could ever manage. I’m horrible at aiming. Adding to my difficulty is the whole controls part. I’m a total klutz. Horrible coordination. I’ve bombed myself countless times and after that I just gave up. In conclusion, the game never started for me, let alone me struggling to end it.


  4. Totally relatable.
    Right from the 90s games starting from Dave (level 8 in particular), NFS( I have a knack for bumping into walls the minute I get into the first position), Injustice: god of wars (HATE cyborg.) also, don’t even get me started on Halo. I’m not really a frequent gamer but I try to gain some perfection at least. The controls on a PC are frustrating as hell. I’ve gotten past the rage quite eloquently though…by asking my cousin to finish the level for me 😀


  5. This post is spot on! I’m ancient enough to remember numerous joystick smashings dealt out by both me and my sister when losing a battle of IK+ on the Commodore 64. In recent months, Sonic CD nearly had me smashing my iPhone, and certain levels on Super Mario Galaxy 2 still have me tearing my hair out.

    Let’s all embrace our inner berserker and when the Rage Quit gods descend, “Hell hath no fury”…

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Dude… Shao Khan was nearly impossible to beat. In video games or life, just because you rage quit doesn’t mean you won’t come back for more later. We eventually get back up, try again and maybe even rage quit a few more times before it’s done.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Funny and insightful read. I’m really not a gamer, but in the few times I play dumb cell phone games I get the whole high stakes, fuck you game mental stress. I think we hate things going wrong in general so when you’re invested in something and it turns against you then temper tantrums are inevitable. Like you said, Life itself is a high stress situation so deferring that stress to video games is understandable. I guess when you grow older and have more important things to worry about the whole rage becomes absurd.



  8. Haha this is great, growing up I didn’t identify rage quitting being a term like you said now that we have memes and such. It’s a funny thing we do, playing the original Crash Bandicoot made me rage quit almost daily. That first game was so hard and still is today.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s