Why I “Rage” Quit.

Last week Valve asked “what rages you” in a poll in Left 4 Dead 2. The poll looked like this:

If you Rage Quit, what makes you Rage?
Vote now!

  • Other
  • Only like playing Infected
  • Never Rage Quit
  • Director unfair
  • Team disharmony
  • Skill imbalance
  • Match too long

The results showed the two top choices were skill imbalance and team disharmony and that’s pretty much what I expected. In this article I’m going to explain why I “rage” quit. Most of the reasons are more complicated than those listed in the poll, but I’ll try to touch on all of the poll items a  little bit.

Fist off, I play games to have fun. Games are fun when they are challenging, when they make me feel smart or skilled, or when they make me laugh. If a game isn’t fun, I will stop playing. Any time I “rage” quit, it has a lot less to do with feeling like the Incredible Hulk, and a lot more to do with feeling bored or frustrated.

That said, the biggest reason I rage quit is the reason I voted for, team disharmony. Just last week I was playing in a public game and one of the players on my team was getting angry with the rest of us. He didn’t offer any advice (because he didn’t know how to play), and wasn’t a team player. He got more and more angry and started using the F-word a lot. One player on our team had already quit. I told the cranky player to calm down, it wasn’t a big deal, it was just a game.  He began to wax poetic about what makes him feel good. There was a lot of cussing and I can see a villain monologue coming a mile away, so I hit the mute button. I’m sure he was feeling smug and satisfied, but I wasn’t hearing a word of it. About two minutes later he finished his stupid speech and I found myself console kicked from the game.

This is something that players shouldn’t have to deal with. The only reason I stayed in the game as long as I did was because I didn’t want to be a “rage quitter.” It’s frustrating being in a position where you don’t want to add to the quitting problem, but find yourself stuck in an un-fun game. Gaming should be fun. If you are in a situation like this, quit and don’t feel bad. Let the guy lose the game alone. It really goes to show that what’s worse than a rage quitting is rage tenacity.

Another instance of team disharmony is when you have one or two players that race ahead and leave the team behind. I was in a game where two players grabbed their supplies and ran off as soon as the game started. I was ready to go, but our last teammate needed a moment. When he was finally ready the other two guys were far far ahead. We inevitably died pretty quick out of the safe room because we were hit by all four special infected. This type of gameplay can make sense. The game is currently set up to spawn the special infected close to the last survivor (in most scenarios and maps). If you hit the ‘e’ button you will rotate between different spawn points but they will all be near the last player. This gives the other players free reign to run as fast as they can with no chance of encountering the special infected. The problem with this strategy is that you lose. You will never get as many points as a team that looks after one another and makes it, even if just barely, to the safe room together. Needless to say, I told them that we were going to lose if they kept playing like that, and we did.

Rage quitting isn’t the only solution in this situation, but it’s the only one that you are in complete control of. Other solutions would include your teammates deciding to be team players, and you can encourage them, but it usually falls on deaf ears. You will get a lot of criticism for being a bad player, but don’t believe it. Being team player is always, always the best way to play. You will win more often and even if you lose your team will lose together, and usually be okay with it. A solution that is completely out of my control is to have Valve update the game so that hitting the ‘e’ button while spawning teleports you between the different survivors. This simple change would make it so that rushing and leaving teammates behind inevitably gets you killed, instead of giving you a free pass to the safe room.

The second big reason I rage quit is not skill imbalance, but what happens when there is skill imbalance. For some reason, people feel like they need to be jerks when they are winning. They will be ahead by 25pts and your screen will fill with “pwned” and “lol” and “stomped” and other versions of “you suck. I am the best and never make mistakes. You should go kill yourself you are so bad.” Skill imbalance is inevitable. It’s the whole point of VS modes. Someone is going to win and someone is going to lose. Sometimes the imbalance will be great, sometimes it will be more or less even, but there will be some imbalance. It’s what we want. What we don’t want is poor sportsmanship. The best games are the ones where people encourage each other. If you are on the winning team, typing things like “good pull” to the other team can build comradery. You can continue to win, and the other team is less likely to collectively quit, sending you back to the lobby early.

But what we really want is to have the teams as balanced as possible. Losing isn’t fun, but neither is winning if it’s too easy. What we need are matching systems. “Quick Match” shouldn’t connect you to the nearest game, but should match you to equally skilled players. Valve can take stats (and probably already does) of headshot percentages, damage done to the tank, time taken to kill the tank, special infected kills, number of times you protect a teammate, time taken to rescue a teammate, etc. All of this can be accounted into a skill level (that you don’t even need to know) that is used to match you to other players. This would fix a lot of problems of imbalance because even if members of a team aren’t equal, if the teams have equally skilled players games are more likely to be close, which is fun and exciting.

What I’ve found recently is that if I join a lobby I will try and join the team that the first few players are on. People who are willing to join a game lobby, and then wait for the lobby to fill instead of  instant gratification are usually better players. Because of that I want to be on their team, and when this happens I usually win. This also has the negative effect that if I join a lobby and I see that the top four players are all on the same team (especially if it’s infected) I will just quit and search for another lobby. Odds are that they will win, and I don’t want the odds to be against me. A solution to this problem is to create the option for an all random lobby. More games would start more quickly, and odds are the teams would be more balanced.

Gaming should be fun, and like Valve said in their follow up, the best way to avoid rage quitting is to play with friends. So go make some and start playing. To sum up, here are the ideas I covered (and some I didn’t) to help public games go more smoothly.

  • Good sportsmanship is important. Don’t be a jerk, to yours or the other team.
  • Valve, change the ‘e’ button to rotate between the survivors when spawning as a special infected.
  • Valve, create the option for all random lobbies.
  • Valve, implement a skill or rank system so that “quick match” doesn’t end up being the worst decision a player ever makes.
  • Valve, try creating a game mode where people can play as the infected or the survivors the entire time (this could help those who quit whenever they are the survivors)
  • Valve, fix the director so that the tank doesn’t spawn a mile away from the survivors so that there is no possible way to get to them before it’s turned over to the computer.
  • Valve, fix the director so that the tank doesn’t spawn in a fire, or somewhere where it is impossible to reach the survivors.

I have to give a lot of props to Valve, they really do care about fixing these problems and The Passing is so much better than what Crash Course was. The Passing is long enough, but hard and short. People complaining about matches being to long should stick to scavenge or The Passing.

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