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Whether you’re playing a board game with your family or you’re competing with friends on Call of Duty, you’re probably at risk of quitting out of frustration.
Something about the competitive nature of games makes us prone to a fit of rage rarely seen in other aspects of life. Family Monopoly at Christmas is a classic example of this.
People rage-quit video games all the time. Sometimes it’s because they’re losing, they died for the 39th time in a row, or their connection is bad and is messing things up.
Researchers from the University of Rochester looked into how players have higher levels of aggressive feelings, and easier access to aggressive thoughts after games. They concluded this wasn’t due to the violent nature of games, which have often been blamed. Rather, it was linked to gamers’ experiences of failure and frustration while playing.
Our desire to perform well plays a role.
The findings, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, showed how manipulating game play by adjusting challenges to be too demanding or making the controllers harder to work led players to experience frustrations of their competence.
“Games, like all performance and competitive activities can arouse people, and for some they can create a lot of ego-involvement and thus strong anger or aggressive feelings when the person loses or perform badly,” Richard M. Ryan, Research Professor in Psychology at the University of Rochester and coauthor of the study, told Business Insider.
“We see the same phenomena in sports, board games, and other competitive activities where people’s investment in doing well or in beating others leads to strong reactions when they lose or do poorly.”
Ryan added that the research helps explain both why people may leave a game early, as well as post-game aggression and, perhaps, “rage-quitting.”
“It also shows how much the desire to achieve and perform well is a part of many video games, with all the good and bad that can come from that,” he said.
However, it’s not all down to losing.
Raging out and giving up is seen as poor sportsmanship, in both sport and gaming. If you flip the game board, or storm off in a huff, you’re seen as a bad sport and a sore loser. However, it might not all be down to the outcome of the game.
For example, in 2013 a blog about the online video game Dota 2 looked into what made people leave.
“Some of the factors we assumed would affect leaving didn’t – for instance, the outcome of matches doesn’t correlate at all to the likelihood of quitting,” it reads.
“Losing a bunch of Dota 2 games doesn’t seem to cause people to quit. But one thing that did stand out in the data was the amount of negative communication between players. Put simply, you are more likely to quit if there is abusive chat going on in your games.”
This could be translated to other scenarios, such as in sport when you’re playing against a particularly nasty opponent, or when your drunk uncle is getting on your nerves more than usual during the second round of Trivial Pursuit.
Ultimately, it seems people rage-quit games when they are no longer having fun, regardless of whether they are losing or not.
In the current age of internet trolling, you might want to think twice about what it is that’s riling you up if you’re online, and consider holding your head high and being the bigger person. As for whether your rage-quit makes you more or less of a loser – it’s up to you.