Gaming & Anger

Nerd Rage, Rage Quitting, and Angry Gamers


Nerd rage. Rage quitting.

If you have a gamer in your life, or are a gamer, you've most definitely come across game rage at least once. So, what exactly is it? The top definition on Urban Dictionary is: "to stop playing out of anger." There are additional components that make rage an appropriate word for this behavior. 

Sometimes the rage is accompanied with screaming, breaking things, physical aggression, and heightened emotionality. Losing not only once, but numerous times, being harassed online, or having difficulties with a game can lead to rage quitting.

Before some commentary on this behavior is shared, here is a video of what can commonly occur when a gamer experiences rage quitting. This is one of countless recordings available online. 

Now, this video was shared not to ridicule or shame gamers. It was shown to illustrate the seriousness of this problem. Around the world, there are millions of homes where gaming is part of everyday life. That means around the world, it can be fairly common to have a gamer get angry or a family member argue about bed times and spending time off the computer or console. This means that gaming and anger in the family is a normal thing, and yet games are being blamed. 

Is gaming really the problem?

Sometimes gaming is the problem. Sometimes it's part of the problem. Sometimes it's the solution for a chaotic life filled with problems. It really depends on context, and individual circumstances. In general, gaming can be the last part of the puzzle where a person who has limited coping skills finally has an outlet to channel anger and other strong emotions. In regards to many men and boys getting angry, there is something curious to consider:

Socially acceptable emotions for men and boys.

Expanding on traditional gender roles and emotional expression has changed within a generation. Even so, there are remnants of the "boys will be boys" and "boys don't cry" mentalities in the minds of many men and boys we know. Millennials, Gen Y, and Gen X gamers can come from a burdened culture where they are not allowed to express feminine emotions. This can be very draining, and misdirect every other emotion into anger. 

Underneath this rage that can "appropriately" be expressed from gaming and being competitive (because it's masculine and acceptable behavior) is lots of pain, unresolved losses, and vulnerability. Men and boys may be less likely to share directly about painful emotions unless it's a result of competition or gaming. This leaves males with a smaller window of opportunity to express normal emotions that females generally share throughout the day. 

What does this build up of emotion do to the human body? Emotions and intense energy builds up, and needs a release. If it isn't released in small bursts, well, you get rages.

Emotions are like air filling up in a balloon. There is only so much that can fill before it bursts. 

Females also get angry. 

Around half of all gamers are female. This leads to expanding on more traditional gender stereotypes or assumptions with female. Females can and do play all types of games, and can also experience nerd rage. Gaming can be an outlet for women where in general, the greater culture may not accept female anger or aggression as openly as when males do. 

Females may be pressured to maintain harmony in groups, and suppress feelings of anger to please others. This is not always the case, of course, yet there are socializing agents that may heavily shape a female's range of expressing negative emotions; the same way men are not nurtured to acknowledge more vulnerable types of emotions. According to an article on gender and anger, men tend to be more physical and aggressive with their anger, while females tend to be more passive aggressive (GOSSIPING).

Gaming may be used as a safer negative emotional outlet for some. It may be healthier to release anger while yelling and killing creeps in a videogame than picking a fight with a random person who bumped into you. In addition to all the positive aspects gaming offers its players, some may use it solely for an emotional outlet; others, not so much. Context is important. 

Context for anger

For many gamers, life can be difficult and overwhelming. People may not always be the kindest, and social support might be minimal. Being misunderstood, and not being able to connect with others may add context to why some gamers have angry outbursts when they play. Having a childlike heart, or being labeled as immature, or lazy by loved others can also be disheartening. Countless stereotypes on being a gamer can make it even more difficult to connect with non-gamers. Adult children affected by the recession, Millennials, also have an added layer of difficulty to finding work and finishing school while some of their peers may be more "successful." 

How nerd rage affects family & relationships

Gaming and anger can become a focus within the family system or relationship. This intense focus on anger can cause arguing, break ups, and additional anger from others. The entire experience can be frustrating, overwhelming, and tiring. Lots of people may start giving ultimatums for the gamer to quit playing "or else" something will be taken away. Parents of adult gamers may feel guilty for permitting the behavior to get to this excessive state, as well as disappointed and upset their child is not thriving. Gamers can feel misunderstood for their love of gaming, annoyed that others want to take something that brings them joy away, and guilty or stuck for not pleasing others. It's a lot of emotions, a lot of perspectives, and a lot of relationship dynamics to consider. 

What happens next?

If extreme anger and gaming are difficult to even initially address, seeking professional support may be a first step. Gaming can be an addiction. If behaviors become difficult, it's important to seek help; either for your own support, or for the family or relationship. Information is invaluable, and learning what gaming can offer a person can help increase connection and open communication. Sometimes arguments and anger can really be about gaming, and sometimes it really isn't about gaming in the first place. Everyone has a story, and every gamer has a history and reason for playing. Listening to understand can make a world of difference. If these initial stages are confusing or difficult to start, an awesomely compassionate and gaming affirmative therapist may be able to help start the healing process.