The Summoner's Guidebook: Dealing with rage and bad players

League of Legends screenshot
Like any competitive multiplayer game, League of Legends induces its fair share of rage. People hate to lose. When your team is only three to five people, each contributor has a distinct identity, making it very easy to single out that feeding Ezreal. Compared to a game like Global Agenda, where teams are very large and individual contribution is harder to measure, League of Legends makes blame very easy to assign.

This week in the Summoner's Guidebook, we're going to talk about the effects of nerdrage on your team and how to deal with those violent emotions in a more productive manner.

Rage causes you to tilt

Emotions of any kind cause problems in multiplayer games. Even if we think that we are performing just fine, any emotional duress causes the decision-making parts of our brain to come to faulty conclusions. The exact effects will depend on the player; some players will become very foolhardy when under emotional stress, while others will become frozen with indecision. Regardless of how we behave when we're upset, these effects stem directly from our inability to properly orient ourselves to deal with new threats or information.

High-level Starcraft players call this state "playing on tilt." Some players can perform better when they are playing on tilt, as the extra adrenaline in their blood heightens their reflexes. However, tilting universally reduces your ability to adapt to new information. People with very solid game sense can overcome this to an extent by simply having a huge reservoir of game knowledge, allowing them to instictively react to a situation without having to think. For most of us, it just means that we do stupid things. It's crippling in any strategy-based game, and League is no different.

This is the one part of rage that can't be controlled. If you are raging, your performance is going to be worse. There's nothing you can do about it; even if you know that you play worse than you are raging, it doesn't actually help you when the time comes. It is possible to come out of a rage by realizing that you're upset and taking a deep breath, but the strong emotions still affect us even once we've calmed a little bit.

Raging demoralizes other people

There's really no reason to unload your rage on the people you're playing with. When you rage in chat, other people get upset too. If you're on the losing team, the majority of people who get upset will be your allies. Even if you are on the winning team, unloading profanity on someone rarely wins you any points.

It's very possible to demoralize someone in such a manner that it causes your team to lose. Although we think that the words of other people in a video game do not affect us, nothing could be further from the truth. The rage you direct at your feeding support will affect him, and in only a very small number of circumstances will it cause any improvement in his play. If you're too upset at his bad play, the best thing you can do is play better and make up for it.

"Helpful" advice does not help during a game. People do not like to be told how to play, and if you try to tell your jungler how to do her job, she's going to stop ganking your lane. Trying to explain to your teammate that it is now the midgame and your team should be grouping up to contest the dragon instead of pushing lanes solo rarely works. It has even less value if you're mad. We naturally express our violent emotions when we say or type things, even if we don't mean to. The best thing you can do is play the best you can and be an example for your team.

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What can we do with feeders?

The bad people on your team are probably just bad. They're not intentionally trying to make your game experience worse. The huge majority of bad players simply don't know what they should be doing, and a large number of the remainder know what they should be doing but have bad mechanics. Telling someone to last-hit better will not help, and explaining to Master Yi that the river is warded and he shouldn't be out on his own will just result in a reply of impudence.

As I mentioned above, the best thing you can possibly do is play well. If it's clear that you are pulling your weight (and possibly more), people have a tendency to follow you around and cover you when you're doing your business. I've turned around quite a few games simply by showing that I was capable and that my team can trust me to do my job. The best characters to do this with are bruisers or tanks. Winning 1v1s or impossible situations is the best way to show your superiority, and bruisers do this better than anyone else. Tanks are a little different; if you show that your team wins when you initiate, your team will wait for you to engage every time.

The next thing you can do is simply be positive even if you've got your head in your hands. Don't let your teammates know in chat that you're one step away from flinging your monitor out the window and quitting the game altogether. If you're hyper-capable, saying things like "don't worry; we've still got this" or "stick with me and we'll get them" works wonders. If you're not hyper-capable, don't say anything. Advice from the "plebs" doesn't impress most people, and you're just a random person to them. If you want to guide people, you need to be excellent first.

Really mean, unethical things to cause rage

Raging is a really nasty thing. It's so debilitating that it can swing games in our favor or prevent the enemy team from ever making a comeback. Inducing rage in your opponents can result in very brutal victories. However, it is pretty unethical to deliberately put someone on tilt. Although I'll detail some bad things you can do below, this is only so that you can recognize that your opponents are doing them. I do not condone the use of bad sportsmanship to get your opponent to play worse.

Taunting is the most basic way to upset someone. The best time to deliver a taunt is when your victim dies when it wasn't her fault. When you taunt someone after killing her, it provokes a natural defensive response. It is a hundred times worse if the enemy knows she wasn't to blame for her death, and it's the fastest way to get someone to hate you.

The flip side to taunting is that it is also a good way to make your team hate you. Don't ever taunt in a game; you don't want to be seen by your team as an arrogant jerk player.

A more insidious thing to do is to turn the enemy team against a particular person. If the enemy's Udyr is doing poorly in the laning phase, apologizing to the enemy team for "such a fail Udyr" is a good way to get him labeled as a feeder. Again, don't do this. If it happens to you, recognize that it's an attempt to provoke your team. Just play the best you can.

There are plenty of ways to win a game of League without resorting to psychological tactics. Rage is emotionally damaging, and you shouldn't try to inflict it on other people. If an enemy goads you on, don't respond to her taunts, or better yet, respond by simply playing well. The best way to prove that you're valuable is by being a team player, not by "proving" that this taunting Amumu is just a scrub.

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Patrick has rage as his passive ability

I rage a lot. I keep it mostly internal; I rarely type things in chat other than tactical information like "omw bot" or "care Singed." However, my roommates know when I'm playing League because a litany of cursing erupts from my room while I'm playing. Being quiet is a defense mechanism to keep me from bringing down the rest of my team.

However, I often play in voice chat with other people. When that happens, people inevitably have to listen to my rage, and in most cases, it's at them. This is pretty counter-productive to winning. However, there is a silver lining to my rage (it's still bad). When you play with a group of other people who respect you, making those people feel bad can push them to get better. In a social circle where League skill is something of value, making a teammate feel bad might hurt you in the short term, but it provides long-term motivations to improve skills he is bad at.

If you don't write a blog about improving skills in League of Legends, I don't recommend using this as an excuse to rage at your friends.

We understand what it's like to climb the skill ladder in League of Legends. The Summoner's Guidebook teaches you the tools you need to get a competitive edge. Whether you're climbing the ranked ladder, playing Draft Dominion, or getting crushed by intermediate bots, every enemy has a weakness. And every Thursday, Patrick Mackey shows how you can improve improve on yours.

This article was originally published on Massively.