I Wish I Didn’t Know How to Rage-Quit You

Image by Flickr user Bresciani Emanuele (Emalord) (CC)
Image by Flickr user Bresciani Emanuele (Emalord) (CC)

We’ve all been there.

There, in the Nth hour of playing [insert game title here] ever when you finally get to a particularly difficult trial, be it a stage or a boss. Your nerves are already slightly frazzled after playing for so long, and maybe you’re a little tired, too. But you press on unheeded into battle …where you are subsequently defeated over and over and over again. You keep going despite whatever your brain is telling you (i.e. Stop! Put down the controller! It’s just a game!), but victory never comes. First you get mad. And then you get really angry. And then…the rage breaks. Eventually reach a point of anger so intense that you’re pretty sure you’re going to hurt something or someone if you don’t stop. So you do. You finally stop. And you turn off the game.

Days (Weeks? Months?) later, you return to the same game. No matter your current state of mind, you know what’s on the horizon – that big, bad boss/level/anger-inducing moment. You start up the game and get to that same point where the rage overtook you last time and…and! You beat the boss. Easily. So easily. (Too easily?) In a matter of mere minutes, you’re past the boss and moving on with your game.

What is that, exactly? What is the phenomenon whereupon some days a battle within a game is the absolute hardest thing ever, and some days, the same battle is a piece of cake? I don’t know what it is, but it must have a name. A name for science! We have a name for the angry first part: rage-quitting. But what about the more docile second part? Hmmm. Maybe that’s simply game-playing.

One of the hallmarks that sets apart rage-quitting from just quitting is that rage-quitting is usually driven by a single, stressful moment in a game. It’s not that the game itself is overly difficult, bad, or invokes anger on its own; it’s that it contains irrevocable challenges that must be overcome in order for the player to progress. Put too many of those in a game and they’d likely cause players to flat-out quit and never return. But spice up a game with just a few hard-won obstacles, and you’ve got yourself a situation where quitting becomes more psychological than physical. Players know they can succeed. They know how to succeed. They know progression is possible. And when it seems that the game prevents this in a heated moment, should one’s emotions allow for it, rage-quitting may ensue. But rage-quitting is usually temporary. In the backs of their minds, players know they will return to the game.


I bring up all this pseudo-psychology because of Assassin’s Creed II, which I recently started playing for the first time. And I have to say, I’m really enjoying it! I know that the series has had its detractors – I’ve been among them myself – but the game has been loads of fun. Having only played part of the original Assassin’s Creed and just the bland intro of Assassin’s Creed III, I wasn’t so sure about picking up the reins with the series’ second installment. But I’m glad that I did, because things are working out…so far.

I say that because of Assassin’s Creed, which was a rage-quit-turned-just-quit experience. Now, I’ve rage-quit plenty of games before. (Too many, probably, if I’m being honest.) In most cases, I’ve return to the “problem” games without issue, easily beating the stages that gave me problems. In some cases, as with Metroid Prime and The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, it’s taken me months, even years to get past a rage-quit incident. But Assassin’s Creed was a very different beast. I don’t consider myself an angry person, but Assassin’s Creed made me think otherwise, if only for a terrifying moment.

Okay, that’s overstating things a little, truly. But the embarrassing scene, which was only witnessed by my cat many years ago, remains so fresh in mind that I can’t suppress it as I attempt to make my way through Renaissance Italy in the second game.

And it was such a little thing that set it off, too. I was simply chasing an assassination target who, when finally captured (it took me several tries), turned out to be a decoy. Sure, it sounds innocuous when I type it out now, but in that single moment, after hours upon hours of play in which I thought I had built up enough of a relationship with the game to understand it well enough, my psyche cracked. The person I captured should have been the right target. That was to be my reward after I had dedicated a large part of my precious free time to becoming the best assassin ever. I thought I understood the game. I thought I knew what was going on.

But the game had other ideas. And I didn’t like that. Not one bit.

I had never been so angry at a game, and I’ve never been as angry at a game since. I can still see myself yelling manically at the TV, and at my cat, who I had annoyingly woken from a peaceful slumber. I must have looked quite the sight. I hate that I can remember it so clearly. But I’m also okay with it, because it reminds me of the ugliness of unbound and, frankly, unwarranted anger.

But I’m not okay with it while playing Assassin’s Creed II, because it continually makes me worry that I’m going to hit a similar spot in the game. A singular spot that I simply can’t defeat. A moment that’s going to turn me into a raving lunatic.  When you really think about, it’s a weird thing to have to overcome. But it’s a gamer thing.

I never returned to Assassin’s Creed, and I have no plans to. I have no qualms with the game itself, but I know it’d make me revisit that rage-quit experience even stronger than I am now with Assassin’s Creed II. I actually hope that the game with help put that memory to rest for good. And if it does make me rage-quit, that moment won’t make me just quit. Instead I’ll be able to return to the game with a refreshed spirit, like gamers do, and easily progress.

I hope that’s the case, anyway. Because, y’know, as the old saying goes, “you wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.” I know I don’t.

Now it’s your turn! Share in the comments your rage-quit experiences and how you over came them (or didn’t).

15 Comments Add yours

  1. Therexman1 says:

    I sometimes rage quit when I am playing Halo 5 either because my team is getting wrecked and I am the only one that is good or the lagging makes me suck

    Liked by 1 person

    1. cary says:

      Yeah, that’s how it can be playing online sometimes. I’ve seen good people completely loose their minds in anger over lagginess and poor matching. It can be a bad scene.


      1. Therexman1 says:

        It happens to me every day I play Halo 5


      2. cary says:

        Bummer. I guess the point is to keep trying, knowing that your aim is to help make the online community better.


  2. simpleek says:

    Mine is still Final Fantasy 13. There’s a slightly small boss that I just never could get around. When I did try again after stepping away from the game after a few years, still the same stuck state as I was in before I rage quit. It sucks. 😦 I think in Mass Effect 3 I almost rage quit that fight with that Asian looking assassin, whose name escapes me, but I prevailed because I hated that guy’s smug face and wanted my Shepard to beat his ass. In your face, you jerk!! But yeah, sometimes it’s good to step away from a game in the hopes of coming back to it with fresh eyes and maybe a finished boss or level. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. cary says:

      Oh, I know who you’re talking about on ME3, and I can’t recall his name either. But wow, his was indeed a tough fight. In the moment, it kind of felt like the game became unfairly difficult…and he was just one guy!

      I don’t know why it still surprises me after all these years, but it’s amazing how the simple act of getting away from a difficult spot in a game for a little while can make all the difference. I think I need to place a “put down the controller” sign next to the TV as a reminder, haha!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I actually rage-quit Skyward Sword, during the final battle. It wasn’t even that difficult – I hadn’t played the game in months and had basically forgotten some of the controls. I popped the game in to relieve some school-related stress, and merrily went through the adventure with little incident in spite of the forgotten controls.

    The battle with Ghirahim ground my gears down a bit, but I managed. Then… the final boss. Thirty-four deaths later (I counted), I was having none of Ganondorf/Demise’s shenanigans anymore. After some dramatic storming around my apartment, I actually came back about 15 minutes later and beat the game. So I agree with you, and with simpleek above; it’s good to get away for a moment and come back with a fresh(er) brain and eyes.

    And oh my goodness. Kai Leng in ME3. I don’t know how I *didn’t* rage quit that fight!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. cary says:

      Kai Leng! That’s the character neither Simpleek (in her comment) or I could remember! Man, you’d think after how long it took me to beat him that his name would have been burned into my skull!

      Your Skyward Sword ordeal sounds like how it was with me and the first part of the Ganon battle in Twilight Princesd. I don’t think I died as many times before I finally beat that stage, but I will admit that I did slam the Wiimote into the couch several times. (The coffee table would have been more satisfying, but we’ve only one Wiimote so…the couch it was.) I’m glad you were successul in getting through Skyward Sword. There’s something especially annoying in leaving a game unfinished right at the final boss.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Haha My brain has definitely developed blocks around bosses I’ve hated, too, so I feel your pain!

        I’m so glad you said you slammed your Wiimote into the couch; I was afraid I was the only one who ever did that in an attempt to not break the controller…


  4. Hatm0nster says:

    I think the only boss that ever got me to rage quit was Baron K. Roolenstein from DKC 3. As a kid I just could not beat him! Other than that, I used to be the guy who’d rage quit from Halo 3 if a match was going particularly badly. Used to be. I learned to chill after I inadvertently broke something. 😀 Still,, there are time when I’d very much like to rage quit out of Destiny raids. Those things can reeeaallly drag if your team doesn’t know what it’s doing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. cary says:

      I never played DKC3 myself, but I did help a friend through it as she played, and I remember all too well the Baron Roolenstein. Considering how friendly the game is generally, that was a really difficult fight.

      I have to admit that, outside of myself, I’ve never actually witnessed a pure rage-quit incident. I usually hear about them after the fact. My husband is an avid online gamer, and I’ve seen him get supremely frustrated in FPSs and such, but I’ve never seen him go full Hulk, so to speak. He usually quits before something bad happens. But I think we all have those moments in games were we know that we’ve gone too far, emotionally and physically. Sometimes it takes actually breaking a physical thing (sorry to hear about that) for us to realize it. The point is to learn from that, and not do it again…hopefully. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Hatm0nster says:

        I don’t know whether or not breaking a physical thing is required for realizing that you’ve gone too far, but it certainly helps. 😀 After the incident I never got anywhere near as upset again. It’s actually become one of my favorite stories for when the topic comes up as it provides such stark contrast with the gamer I am now.

        Back then I let myself get so worked up that I end up breaking the back of a chair (only possible because it was held up with a couple of thin, flimsy pieces of metal) and falling out of it right in front of a friend of mine. Very embarrassing, but extremely effective in curing rage. From that point on I did still get a bit frustrated from time to time, but never angry. Now I mostly laugh off losses and move on. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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