The Angry Gamer

by Fargy

Angry gamers are fantastic! We play games for emotional reasons, so having emotional players means having involved players. Enjoy them!

We play games to have fun. Fun is a generic term which at first glance means being happy. And one can take a little snapshot of generic happy people in advertising land; smiling faces and white teeth, all beckoning you to join them.
However fun has a dark side.
It has a passionate side.
Come with me to that dark side.

My happy place.

I get involved in things and time flies by.

I'm in the moment, whether that moment is happy, scared, sad or angry doesn't really matter, I'm engaged.  I'm passionate.

Let's have a word about this word, passionate, we all know we have to include it in our job interviews...

"Why yes sir, I am extremely passionate about double entry book-keeping.  It is my life's passion."

Passionate is not a word for job interviews really, it's more personal, it's a bloody and fiery word.  Not professional at all.

We see that truer meaning when we read forums for online games.  It is here that people are freer to be their true selves.  To show their true passion.

Forums are my happy place, despite or perhaps because of, the high emotion.


Here is an angry gamer, and the crowd loves his passion.

I just work here.

Working with people is a real pain.

They are notoriously fickle, inconstant in every way.

This makes it difficult for 24/7 online operations like MMO games.  There is a constant flood of complaint and whining about the smallest and most irrelevant of things. 

Let's take a peek at why that is.

For a start let's look at the operation, say for example Runescape, their forums had 500,000 forum visitors per week, leaving some 250,000 posts per week.  That was a few years ago, and things have died down a little.  Was that because of steps put in place to curb emotional responses from angry players.

Someone had to deal with the anger, wishing it away won't work, and locking or banning posters won't.  The anger is still there.


You can imagine how it feels when constrained by professional courtesy and legal obligations that you have to reply to people who are in a moment of passion, but not in a good way.  We need to put more thought into this.  So far Penny Arcade has one theory on the origin of anger, but more can be done.

Penny Arcade put it this way...

GIFT Wad Theory


Here is a look from the other side of the fence.  It was posted by a World of Warcraft moderator before he left the building.

I think it is wonderfully poetic, and captures, shall we say, passion.

I include a picture because all this text we see, does come from real people, like us.


Tseric Blizzcon 2005" Can't help it.
Posting impassionately, they say you don't care.
Posting nothing, they say you ignore.
Posting with passion, you incite trolls.
Posting fluff, you say nonsense.
Post with what facts you have, they whittle down with rationale.
There is no win.
There is only slow degradation.
Take note. It is the first and only time you'll see someone in my position make that position.
You can be me when I'm gone." 

~Tseric May 13th 2007








So we start to see some opportunities, as problems are sometimes called.

Runescape takes the view that anything they don't like can be shovelled into a hidden Rants forum.

You have to log in to see the forum and it doesn't show up to Google searchers.  Too many bad stories were getting out, or that's how Jagex felt, they reacted defensively, rather than interact with the angry gamers.


Is this the best solution?

Of course not.

There is a tremendous energy in online gamers, they should be harnessed.

With the internet now we have an audience of basically everyone in the world.

They will be rich, poor, sad, angry.  Tired from work, or worried about homework.   And they bring that with them.

The first thing we should do is give them some time and comfort.

We want an online game to be a happy place.  And when people are stressed they experience physiological changes that take time to dissipate.  Some would argue that these physiological hits are addictive, even the angry ones from online arguments.

But the first thing to do is realise that players need wind down time.  So if a player is angry, identify that and find them something to do for about 20 minutes.  The online equivalent of breaking plates, or deep breathing for example.

Then talk to them.

Some voids can never be filled though.  For example some seek affection from the internet that can never be the equivalent of real affection.  And they can seek it from online games.  This is like filling a bottomless bucket.

See what we are doing here?

Identifying customer needs.

Once we do that it should be simpler in helping with those needs.


Anger is an energy


Online communities are disparaged, by online communities, for being notoriously difficult.

In a way that may be true, but I see that as another opportunity.

Runescape moderators and others, shake their heads at conferences, and console other game moderators, who console them in return.

"Well, you know, they're Runescape players." 

"It must be awful.  There, there.  You should see our Diablo players." 

It becomes Us versus Them.

And as mentioned before that's an easy trap to fall into.  Game developers have similar backgrounds, they speak the same jargon.

Customers come from a world of chaos.  Every one is like a box of chocolates.

Exploding chocolates.

But why do game developers not teach customers how they want feedback?

They say they want "constructive criticism" but I've never seen a concerted effort by an organisation to show customers what that means.

Sure, some moderators do it on the occasional personal level.  But more often the thread is locked or hidden and the poster possibly muted or banned.

That doesn't solve the problem at all.  That angry customer is still outside the door.

It's the internet, the door is always one click away.

That unresolved anger helps poison communities, the anger isn't used.

In effect Game Developers get the communities they want.  If they want different, they should do something differently.

They should reward behaviours they want.  

Not just punish.

Get active about anger!

Other online gaming articles.

A quick look at Massively Multiplayer Online games; their commonalities, their future.
Runescape has entered the Age of Bonds. Implementing a new system of microtransactions in a major way.
Anything is possible in virtual worlds. With a click of the keyboard we can summon dragons, ride whirlwinds, swing swords and hit the Quit button.
It's common for people to ask for constructive feedback. But what does that even mean?
Updated: 10/27/2013, Fargy
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Guest on 09/27/2013

Thank you. That is all.

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