Earlier today, Eurogamer published the above “Rage Compilation” video, featuring some excerpts from the European Call of Duty Championship. The behaviour of the competitors is quite repugnant, with aggressive, foul-mouthed outbursts seemingly a routine part of some players’ strategies.
The above screencap isn’t from a European reboot of The Big Bang Theory, it is one of the many confrontational “celebrations” resulting from a victory. Moments later, the headset-wearing Andrew “aMaZe” McClure threw something (probably just a ball of paper) at the opposition, who are out of shot. After repeated displays of such aggressive and obscenity-riddled behaviour, Call of Duty player McClure explained:
“It’s mind games in a way, it pushes my team to do better. I’ve learned from experiences in the past that when we’re hyped up and talking a lot of crap, we play a lot better. I don’t know why. It’s pretty weird, we’ve just got to do what we’ve got to do to win the game.”
The Sympathetic Reaction
In an effort to assist the “potty-mouthed” Mr. McClure to better understand those weird impulses he is experiencing, here is a basic explanation:
The human brain, as sophisticated as it is, cannot differentiate between real threats and virtual ones at a basic level. Exciting and competitive gameplay triggers the instinctive fight-or-flight response, which floods the body with adrenaline which would normally enhance physical performance. This is fantastic news if you’re trying to outrun a sabre-toothed tiger or even take part in a physical sport as it will increase bloodflow, alertness and the overall likelihood of surviving/winning.
However, gamers such as those featured in the video are just sitting down in a physically restful state. All exertion is simulated, but the brain responds as if it were real. As a result these competitors’ bodies are primed for physical activity which isn’t coming and they have excess adrenaline flowing through their system with no means of burning it off. Misdirected aggression is the unsurprising result.
But as I said, this is not an excuse, just an explanation. I note that not all players behave in the same manner, so there is no reason why any should.
Tournament organisers, Electronic Sports League, stated, “The events are always conducted in a professional manner, and this film does not reflect the generally sportsmanslike behaviour we saw over the weekend.”
Although I can appreciate that players – especially those playing for high stakes – are very emotionally invested in their gaming, they need to find a way to exercise more self control. Video games are increasingly mainstream entertainment these days and competitive gamers are ambassadors for the video game generation.
They should behave as such.