The game rage nuke that is… Left For Dead

Now let’s be honest here, we all have those game rage moments we’re not proud of.

We can all think of that one bit in a game where all you want to do is throw your controller across the room and shout profanities at the screen – be it because of a difficult boss fight, an online opponent you don’t want to admit is better than you or at stupid friendly AI. However, in all my years of playing videogames no experience has come close to the game-rage induced by Left 4 Dead. For those not familiar with the game, Left 4 Dead is a co-op shooter game based in the aftermath of a zombie apocalypse where team work is essential.

If a survivor runs off on their own gung-ho it’s only a matter of time before they’re jumped by a nasty zombie waiting around the corner and are torn to shreds before any of their buddies can arrive to save the day. Equally if you are playing as one of the infected and you find yourself facing a group of survivors it’s a pretty safe bet that, even if you manage to grab one, it won’t be long before the others put a few bullets in your head and they’ll be on their merry way. Survivors must stick close together to ensure that nobody is left without a rescue buddy and infected have to work together to ensure that each survivor is either pinned down and unable to save their comrades. However, many players choose to casually ignore these basics…and this is where the rage began…. When I first started playing Left4Dead I quickly fell in with a crowd of fellow zombie enthusiasts and we immediately became a deadly squad. The communication was excellent, we would always plan our next moves and stick together in teams. Of course the system was never perfect and sometimes the plan would go awry or a mistake would be made which would either see us torn to shreds or let the survivors slip through our claws. We mostly put this down to bad luck or very good opponents and we would take it on the chin and congratulate them for a fun, challenging game. All too quickly however the team went their separate ways, moving on to other games or simply getting a bit fed up of the tactics. I wasn’t ready to quit just yet, I was having a blast, so I decided to carry on playing, throwing myself to the mercy of public games. This…was a mistake.

Being a lazy person who doesn’t like waiting around in lobbies I mostly joined games in progress.

I quickly learned that good games don’t have open slots. Time and time again I would find myself thrown into a disaster, with team mates clueless about the game I witnessed my infected brethren walking out into plain sight simply to get shot or launching futile attacks on well protected survivors. Similarly, my fellow survivors charged off alone unannounced, quickly being pounced and killed and then blaming the rest of the team for their suicidal tactics. I would shout and ball at my screen – profanities ranged from the classic “Wanker!” to more colourful or unusual language like; “Dipshit!” or “Fucking silly person!”. I think I even accused someone of being a ‘traitor’ once. Thankfully I didn’t have a headset on…but I could type, and the things that were said were not pretty, but then neither were the things said back. Looking back, I’m amazed at the effect this game had on me. When playing with my friends in an organized team I was always patient. When I encountered a new player I tried to helped them out with tips, tricks and sometimes a simple reminder of the objective… even if they were on the other team. I was also much more prepared to accept failure. If an ally arrived a little too late to help me or if someone tried to quickly grab an objective on their own and died I was generally forgiving and often would laugh it off. In public games, rather than laugh off a defeat I would grow bitter at my allies and I even stopped finding my own deaths funny (trust me as a survivor there are some pretty funny ways to meet your end). The game was no longer relaxing and a place for a few laughs, it was now a place of deadly seriousness where everything that went wrong was someone else’s fault. This went on for some time until one particular match with an outstandingly ‘noobish’ player. We were playing an objective based match where you had to collect fuel and the team that managed to collect the most while playing as the survivors won. My team were playing our round as the survivors and as soon as the match started this particular player charged up some stairs without the rest of us and it wasn’t long before he was ambushed by the whole infected team and brought down. Served him right, I was readily prepared to leave him to die to teach him a lesson but the others in the team rushed to help and it wasn’t long until the infected managed to kill us off.

At this point I lost my temper.

“Looks like we have a 13 year old fuckwit with us.” However this player was no child but a 30 year old man. After our dismal end he quickly corrected me and apologised for getting us all killed, rather than raging at me he said he said he would stick close and follow our lead. Such a mellow response fuelled my embarrassment for my outburst and I immediately changed my tone. I gave him hints and stuck with him, and in no time he became an effective member of the team – he even outperformed the rest of us as an infected at one point. Raging to other players is never helpful, it only causes you unnecessary stress and resentment with team mates who are likely trying their best. Playing with patience and offering help rather than abuse will always yield better results than swear words and trolling. I’m not saying I’m perfect, I still frequently have a shout and get upset when doing badly in a game, however I keep it to myself and quickly try to get over it now. Unfortunately it’s always going to be rife with online gaming, and I find Left 4 Dead in particular, I just hope that by the time Left 4 Dead 3 is released we’ve swallowed the chill pill. How about you? Is there a game out there, or a particular moment in a game which has you throwing your controller across the room? Fell free to share, and of course any coping methods are always welcome!

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