We’ve all had those moments, citizens of our Mother Internet, when we wanted to rage quit a game (or some online thing). For those of you who’ve never heard about rage quitting, it’s being real angry and leaving a chat room or game or something, leaving a wake of haterade for all the n00bs and other folks headshotting away. But rage quitting has evolved into real-life rage that seeps into the lives of folks undeserving of said wrath.
Earlier this year, David Vonderhaar, a developer for Call of Duty 2, got a bunch of death threats on his Twitter account for the minor changes the company was implementing in the game. Indie game maker Phil Fish dropped a sequel to one of his games due to the same sorts of threats and flame wars over social media. Comments calling out both ranged from regular anger to straight up murder and rape threats, and cancer wishes. It wasn’t pretty, and continues to be a little outrageous. All this over patches to a game, it’s a bit much.
Researchers have tried to explain the current trend toward being super rageful online, not just in games but on social media outlets as well. It’s pretty harmless, I’d say, to call someone a douchebag whilst clicking away angrily in WoW or something, but it’s another thing entirely to threaten someone over a platform as proliferated as Facebook. It’s also dangerous for the user, and stupid, because people are watching you (not like in 1984, but it’s possible to get in trouble). It’s actually easier to be a nice feller than a dickbag online, but somehow rage is a real popular emotion.
It could be that in enacting certain fantasies (like teabagging a fallen enemy, murdering a baker’s dozen of strippers, or dropping warheads on your best friend’s base), the rage that can’t come out in society finds an easy arena to play. I’ve certainly shouted at a monitor before (back in the Starcraft days when I’d get Zerg-rushed). But it’s not really important why we let our rage flourish online, it’s paramount we figure out how to put a damper on it before it infects real life. I know it’s not really that likely that GTA5 is inspiring more murders (politicians like to target the videogame industry, but TV and movies are equally violent), but that kind of online environment allows for a certain emotional freedom that can be dangerous in real life.
We are separated by a thick screen of online fantasies and code, and are therefore unable to realize a lot of the time the effects our rage may have on people going home to their families, having to carry hateful comments with them. True, videogames are a fun way of blowing off steam, but the coders and designers must have a way of proliferating more impressive, elegant language and manners. I’m not saying that GTA5 is terrible, you guys, but seriously the developers must know that lil’ tykes digging into games like these must be taking away something. People have died over sports (an earlier outlet for rage), it’s not unlikely that the same rage in video games may solicit some real bad life events. So, keep on rage quitting from games, but leave that rage where it belongs.