“You Wouldn’t Like Me When I’m Angry: An Examination of Rage Quits”

People who fly into a rage always make a bad landing.
-Will Rogers



bluemoonThe following is a contributor post by the Blue Moon Mage.”

The year was 1995. Every day for nearly two weeks, I had come home from school and played The Lion King on Super Nintendo, but I could never get farther than the “Hakuna Matata” level. I always failed at the waterfall.

Players are supposed to guide Simba up the waterfall by jumping on moving logs. I could see the pattern in the way the logs moved, but I just didn’t have the skill to translate that into waterfall-climbing success.

As the Game Over screen mocked me for what felt like the 3,000th time, I slammed the controller down on the (carpeted) living room floor. Then for good measure, I picked it up and slammed it down again.

My step-brother (as was his custom) made some snarkily rude comment, and somehow, through the white haze of fury buzzing in my brain, I knew that if I turned around and punched his stupid teeth straight down his stupid throat, I’d be grounded, and it would be a long, long time before I’d get another chance to take down that waterfall.

Instead I went outside and ran laps around and around our house until I was tired enough that I felt I could be trusted in the same room with the SNES and/or my step-brother.


According to the Urban Dictionary, rage quit is defined as “To stop playing a game out of an anger towards an event that transpired within the game.” The heart of the classic rage quit is the over-the-top emotion: screaming, breaking things, and generally acting like a toddler up way past their bedtime. Fortunately, most are actually much less dramatic, but the rage is still there, even if we manage to more or less control it on the outside.

The term certainly started with video games, but it’s grown into a larger cultural phenomenon. You can rage quit a book you’re not enjoying reading (done it). You can rage quit Twitter if you find the people there too infuriating (seen it). You can rage quit an eating challenge you foolishly attempted in order to gain YouTube glory (seen that, too). You can even rage quit a job you hate (heard so many stories).

But the classic rage quit will always be centered on video games, and if you’re not the one playing / raging / having your stuff broken, they can be quite entertaining. There are a plethora of rage quit videos available on YouTube. Some of my favorites are the Cuphead rage quit videos (like this one; warning: language NSFW), but one of the most high profile rage quit clips is the Angry German kid (NSFW if you speak German). It shocked viewers and spawned many a concerned discussion about society and kids-these-days, but it was later revealed that the whole thing was done by an extremely convincing child actor.


Real Life Rage Quit #1:

“Few years ago I was playing Tekken 6 (I was still allowed to back then) and I couldn’t for the life of me get past this one fight. Got so angry that I stuffed my controller into a padded envelope and mailed it to my dad, who was living halfway across the country. Bit of an embarrassing thing to explain once it arrived in the mail. Had to wait about a week to get it back.” –@RaccooniusBryce

I got the idea for this think piece after a recent rage quit incident of my own (which I’ll get to in a minute), so I took to Twitter and asked my fellow gamers to share their own rage quit stories. I’ve included some of the best ones throughout the article. Although the individual circumstances of each rage quit was different, the primary commonality was a game that was just really, really, really hard. This is the most frequent of all rage quit varieties: the “This Game Is Too Difficult” rage quit.

Modern titles like Cuphead, Dark Souls, Bloodborne, and Super Meat Boy are known for being so ridiculously difficult that they could send even the calmest soul running for their blood pressure medication. But if you’re old enough (like SOME PEOPLE, certain not ME…), you also remember the brutally unforgiving games of ye olde days, like Mega Man, Castlevania, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and BattleToads (and if you’re one of those people who can’t wait to say how these games are all, like, super easy, and I just need to “get gud,” please save your comments for the end).

These games require precision in timing and control, the ability to problem solve and think on your feet, and the grit to keep going even though you’ve died 397 times… no, make that 398 times. Maybe the game gave you a short tutorial. Maybe not (tutorials are for the weak!). And on top of all of this, the games (especially the retro games) might have rather unfair level design and controls that are either too loose or too stiff.

It all adds up to a gaming experience that can make players feel exactly like Sisyphus must have. Only we’re not doomed to have to go up against the same boss again and again for all eternity. We can chuck our controllers against the wall, go out for a breakfast burrito, and curse the unfairness of it all to the heavens. But odds are that we’ll be back in a few days, maybe even a few hours, to try again.


Real Life Rage Quit #2:

“When I was a kid I couldn’t for the life of me get past the goron level on the moon in Majora’s mask. I tried for hours and hours until finally I hucked the controller against the wall. Fast forward a couple years and I realized you can beat the level without moving the stick…” –@NerdWorkshop

On the flip side of the “This Game Is Too Difficult” rage quit, you’ll find the much more rare, but still very real “This Game Is Too Boring” rage quit. I have experienced one of these myself recently.

As you may know if you’re a Twitter friend of mine, I’ve never played a Pokémon game before. I decided to try the series by starting at the beginning with 1998’s Pokémon Blue for the original GameBoy. Obviously Pokémon is beloved around the world, so my expectations were pretty high. But ten hours in, I’d done nothing but walk around and easily defeat trainer after trainer after trainer (most in a single attack thanks to my Charizard). It’s so monotonous, and the rest of the game seemed to offer only more of the same. I couldn’t help thinking, “This is boring. This is really, freaking BORING!”

I tossed it aside and haven’t been able to summon the willpower to get back into it. I will eventually. Just… later.


Real Life Rage Quit #3:

“Once i was playing mortal kombat on my 360, years ago! I raged so hard on shao kahn that i threw my controller, and it bounced twice before coming back to my hands!” –

A cousin of the “This Game Is Too Boring” rage quit is the “This Game Is Not What I Expected” rage quit. I’ve had a few of these over the years. Sometimes you buy a game, and it’s not what you expected, but it turns out to be absolutely fantastic specifically because it spurned your every expectation. But this is not always the case.

If you know me at all, you know that Kingdom Hearts is one of my favorite games of all time. In 2007, Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories was ported from the GameBoy Advance to the PS2. I didn’t own a GB Advance then (Note: I still don’t. *cue sad music*), so I jumped at the chance to play it.

Imagine my shock when I popped in the disc only to find that Chain of Memories is not another enjoyable button masher; it’s actually a card combat game. You have to beat enemies with cards AND your Keyblade simultaneously. Really?? Are they serious??? If I wanted a Yu-Gi-Oh game, I’d have bought an actual Yu-Gi-Oh! game!

I played for a few hours, grew increasingly infuriated, and then traded the disc in at GameStop before the end of the day. I couldn’t even look at the game again until it was re-released as part of the Kingdom Hearts 1.5 Remix, and even then, I haven’t played it much. It’s not the game I expected, and it’s definitely not the game I wanted. Rage.


Real Life Rage Quit #4:

“Playing Mario Kart on the Wii one night my mate got so wound up by Rainbow Road he threw his Wiimote, unfortunately it was strapped to his wrist! It did a complete circle and whacked him in the nose. Nothing broken luckily but he looked like a Panda the next morning.” –@Myrtymoo

If you play with other people, you’re practically guaranteed to see an entirely new genus of rage quit. Party games like Mario Kart or Mario Party might seem like good, wholesome fun for the whole family, but they will bring out a ruthlessness in Aunt Agnes that you never knew existed. If you’ve ever gotten a blue shell in the face when you’re a mere three feet from the finish line (and meanwhile your no-talent cousin sails to victory with their signature smug smile), then you likely know the “This Game Is A Friendship Ruiner” rage quit.

But all that family fun seems like child’s play compared to going online and playing with strangers. Games like Overwatch, League of Legends, Call of Duty, and Fortnite can connect people from all over the globe in a shared interest. Sometimes you win. Sometimes you lose. Sometimes you lose a lot. But if you’ve ever been called a Noob, Camper, Try-Hard, Hanzo Main, or Rust Lord, you know that all this losing (and even sometimes the winning) brings out a lot of… emotions in people.

Things can be bad enough when everything is legit, but sometimes your opponents are truly cheating. Or sometimes you get dropped into a lobby where you have to go up against a coordinated clan that thinks every match is World War III. And when that happens, things feel very unfair indeed. Enough so that you might even see the “This Game Is Full Of Cheaters” rage quit.

Angry snarl

Real Life Rage Quit #5:

“I got a mad catz memory card for my GameCube and I was well into Wind Waker I saved went to school, got back home and memory card [wasn’t] formatted so I threw my GameCube down the stairs like a bowling ball. Still worked had to tape the lid shut though.” – @Jetjaguar67

Equipment failure can be a real issue for gamers. If your internet is slow, lag can make it almost impossible to compete. Do you even have enough memory to run this game? Perhaps the battery in your controller is low. Or the X-button is sticky or the joystick is twitchy. Whether you’re playing against other people or just working through a game that demands the utmost precision and timing, having equipment that doesn’t perform at 110% can be enough to turn the whole experience into a raging dumpster fire. These are prime instances for viewing the “This Equipment Sucks” rage quit.

But in reality, the “This Equipment Sucks” rage quit is most often just a scapegoat for the true culprit: the “I Suck At This Game” rage quit. This is the rarest rage quit of all, and you’ll likely have to view all other varieties of rage quit before seeing one of these specimens. They only appear in moments of honest self-realization, and they don’t stick around very long.


Real Life Rage Quit #6:

“I used to play the 1st Ninja Gaiden a lot. I got to the end of the snow level, the doorway before the boss. I was so close! Then the damn jaguar knocked me off the ledge as I jumped down! I spiked the controller off the floor and went out to smoke a cigarette.” –@crin_fernee484

I know you’re going to think I’m crazy, but I see rage quits as a good thing. I do! Rage quits are evidence that gamers are a passionate bunch, investing heavily in the things we love and putting our entire hearts and souls into succeeding. Now, like any other emotion, rage quits can go too far. But steered in the proper directions, they not only provide some good laughs and great stories (once things have cooled down, of course), but they also bring the fuel to keep on gaming.

Just not with THAT game. That Game Is Too Difficult. I’ll keep on gaming with this other game over here.


The Blue Moon Mage, aka Blue Williams, is a nerd of many layers: video games, film, anime, manga, and cars. You can find her on Twitter at @wrytersview or at her other writing locales: The Loot Gaming, The GamerHot Cars, and 799 Books.


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Categories: Opinion

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6 replies »

  1. Nothing else to add because you pretty much summed it up. So instead, here’s my favourite rage quit video. It came as the belated finale to a Let’s Play series, which was never completed because of a previous rage quit during the final level. Here, that final level is attempted again, a year later. I had watched the whole series already, so that might have boosted my opinion of it, but even then, it’s spectacular to watch. Especially because the ending comes after such a glimmer of hope. It’s 40 minutes long, so you could just skip to the end, but you’ll get more out of it if you watch the whole thing. Seriously, when you get the time, you really need to watch this:

    Liked by 2 people

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