The Situation

Almost every day I'm spending time with my group of friends, among them one I will call John. Together, we often play videogames. When playing, John gets very easily upset by things others would brush off, and he gets very vocal about it.

An example:

Due to bad ping, John gets hit by a shot when he was already around a corner. While others would let out a sigh or a disappointed "Oh crap", John begins to yell "What the?! I was already around the corner! This f***ing game is so broken! I was already safe, I shouldn't have died!".

Further, he almost always portrays any perceived injustice as specifically against him. It's not just bad net-code or wonky hitboxes - he acts as if the game specifically and exclusively treats him bad and nobody else.

As one might imagine, over the course of several hours, these outbursts begin to dampen the fun quite a lot, and sometimes lead him to "rage-quitting" and leaving the group for the day (which in turn might force us to abandon a game we all enjoyed because we are too few people).

What I tried so far

  1. I attempted to reason with him at first. For instance, I explained him that wonky hitboxes cause him to miss an enemy just as often as it causes the enemy to miss him. John was very resistant to such explanations and in turn claimed that others never miss him and that he is the only one affected negatively by it. Of course, this is just one example, but you get the idea.
  2. I attempted to just ignore him and hope he would calm down by himself. This usually doesn't work, as he just keeps on going and on about how he is the victim of everything, about how everyone else is supposedly cheating and so on and so forth. It is just so draining to hear him ranting and complaining all the time and it just drains the fun out of everything for me.
  3. I attempted to speak to him about how his outbursts and rants affect me, but he argued he can't help himself when he feels treaten unfairly. The rest of the conversation then ends up as shown in 1..
  4. I attempted to calm him down by saying things like "It's just a game, calm down", with varying degrees of intensity, ranging from a relaxed and friendly tone to something more akin to "Shut the f*** up! You've been ranting non-stop for one and a half hours now!" (which was not very calming in retrospective). As one might imagine, the results ranged from "No improvement" to "And then things got so much worse".

What I considered trying

  1. I considered directly telling him that his temper is a massive problem for me (and at least "very annoying" according to others in our group) and that he has to get a grip on himself if he wants to keep playing with us.

    I don't think that this is a good idea, because he might believe I don't want him in our group - which is not true. I do want to play together with him, just without all the temper tantrums. Further, I'm afraid John might think I am not allowing him to be upset at all. I don't mind him benuig upset once or twice, or saying "Oh f***!". But to me, there is a difference between being upset once for 2 seconds and a 90-minute rant about how the world treats you and only you unfairly.

  2. I considered asking him to play really hard and frustrating games with low down-time, such as "Hotline Miami" or "Super Meat Boy". The idea behind this is that when failing over and over and over, he would have to learn how to deal with his frustration and hopefully be more relaxed when playing with us - similar to how people say the best way to cure a fear of flying by flying a lot.
    I don't know if this idea has any merit. He might just quit the games when getting too frustrated instead of building higher tolerance against frustration, or they might not have any effect at all on him.

What should I do now? Is there even anything I can do now?

  • How does John react when inanimate objects are the cause of his woes? I mean, when he stubs his pinkie toe on the leg of the coffee table, does he go on a rant about how the whole world (coffee table included) is after him personally, or does he just yell to vent out the frustration and move on?
    – user2135
    Mar 1, 2018 at 11:06
  • @peufeu He reacts normally to that. When he drops something he says "Oh sh*t", picks it up and lives normally.
    – MechMK1
    Mar 1, 2018 at 11:08
  • OK, so he only blows up when he can find a way to blame it on others that sounds legit enough then?
    – user2135
    Mar 1, 2018 at 11:13
  • 1
    is this gaming sesion Online or everyone together in a room? Because I would video record the gaming session and then show it back to him. so he realize how annoying the behaviour is. Mar 1, 2018 at 13:56
  • 1
    You could include a Rage Counter, Like they do on the Everything Wrong With videos. youtube.com/watch?v=uuCo7mHUQJs ;) But I wouldn't post that one to the public. Only show to him. Mar 1, 2018 at 15:38

5 Answers 5


Sounds like you need to re-examine your friendship with John.

The worst you can do is tell him to calm down when he is angry. This will only make him more angry.

The time to talk to him about his anger issues is when he is calm, not when he is already angry. Generally speaking, you want to convey to him just how much his anger issues are impacting your enjoyment - it's not clear he has got that yet.

After you talked to him about this, your options are basically to put up with it or not invite him to games anymore - you can't change people's disposition to suit you if they don't want to themselves.

So talk with John, be serious, don't allow the seriousness of the matter to be made fun of. Have this talk when he is calm and not angry.

If things don't improve, you'll have to decide if you put up with it or end up finding a new friend elsewhere.

  • I assume that more talking in a calm state would probably be the best course. Ending the friendship is rather difficult, since John is the brother of my best friend.
    – MechMK1
    Mar 1, 2018 at 11:12
  • @DavidStockinger As you probably found out, telling an angry person to calm down backfires always.
    – Magisch
    Mar 1, 2018 at 11:33
  • Telling him to "shut the f*** up" was more of a way to vent my own frustration after sitting back quietly for 90 minutes and listening to him rant. But yes, it's not very helpful
    – MechMK1
    Mar 1, 2018 at 11:54

The funny thing is that we're not even playing anything competitive. His problem isn't losing, his problem is he feels treated unfairly.

My son has Tourette Syndrome, and this includes a symptom called rage. He also has OCD, which includes something Susan Conners describes as an "obsessive sense of justice." He sometimes has the sensation that he has been treated unfairly, even though objectively, that's not true.

The set of games he can tolerate and enjoy is more restricted than for an average person of his age and intelligence.

We can still enjoy playing games together, but because of his neurological differences, I have to be sensitive to which games might get him upset. It also helps to be sensitive to his physical state, for example:

  • Has he gotten some good exercise that day? Too much sitting for too long doesn't augur well for a positive game session

  • Is he hungry? If so, that might make him more likely to get "hangry."

I recommend that you experiment with the choice of game to see what he can handle. At a certain stage with my children the following approach was helpful:

  • Choose a fairly simple board game with at least 5 players, identified by color, let's call them Red, Blue, Yellow, Green, Black.

  • In this approach, it's not exactly a co-op game. Rather, we take turns; on each person's turn, the person manipulates the pieces for whichever color's turn it is to play.

  • The turn alternation would go like this:

    Me: Red

    Friend: Blue

    Me: Yellow

    Friend: Green

    Me: Black

    Friend: Red


This can give your friend some emotional distance while still enjoying the mechanics of the game with you. You can both speculate about which color is likely to win, and enjoy being surprised if things change. It helps if the game has a great deal of randomness built in. Many games can be played in this way, even if they weren't originally designed like this.

You have to be very, very patient about the negotiating of the fairness. Over time, the person who obsesses about injustices can often be brought to trust you and relax enough to gradually expand the set of games he can tolerate.

If not, then it's time for professional help. If this becomes necessary, I recommend that you find someone trained in "exposure therapy" or Exposure and Response Prevention.


From your comment:

I think he "blows up" when he believes to be treaten unfair by something. Stubbing one's toe or dropping something is no unfair treatment, but when he plays he believes that the game is treating him unfairly - hence the strong emotional reaction.

Games are supposed to be fair (unless you got a real cheater, these are the scourge of honest players).

You can record the game and replay it in slow motion, but that may not work. Netcodes are a weird thing, and the position of the player isn't always the same on the server and the client depending on ping, so the evidence may not be conclusive. It's just a thing one has to accept when playing online games. Since ping time is bounded by speed of light and other network issues, if someone shoots the spot you were 20 milliseconds ago it can register as a hit, it's part of the online gaming experience, can't change it unless everyone is on a LAN with <1ms ping...

Also this won't fix the main issue, which is that he seems unable to deal with random setbacks without finding someone to blame. Life is unfair.

Every time you waste time listening to his rants, give sympathy and attention to his tantrums, the more you validate his victim narrative! Giving him attention actually makes him more likely to do it again. Think about it this way: if you give a lollipop to your kid every time they cry, then they will cry every time they want a lollipop.

Therefore, I would personally resort to not giving a damn, plus good old ribbing and shaming:

"Who cares, it's the game! Score back!"

"You're such a victim John, come back in the game and take it out on them, we need the score!"

Season to taste. He's already ruining your games and you've been thinking about kicking him out, so don't feel too guilty about using flowery words like "grow a pair". Have fun!

  • I tried to reason with him with conclusive evidence, but his reaction is always akin to "I feel like it is that way, so it is that way, no matter what evidence says"
    – MechMK1
    Mar 2, 2018 at 8:46

In most game communities he would be called a toxic player. These kind of people are at their worst in competitive/ranked play (where each win matters) combined with a (perceived) losing streak. If you examine his mood you'll find that he probably starts pretty mellow and his behavior just escalates as frustrations pile up.

You have to break that losing streak, however a single win is often not enough for that because people tend to fixate more on the losses than the wins.

A simple option is to take a literal break from the game for a bit and let heads cool down a bit. You can pair that with a snack run/bathroom break or strategy session

You could also do a few low-stakes matches in a different game mode.

You'll have to enforce this break before his toxic mod has a chance to build up.

The more involved option is to act as a coach and complement him every time you see him do something impressive like a multi kill or a well executed flank.

  • As I mentioned in a comment on a different answer, the problem isn't that he is losing. The problem is a perceived injustice. The stakes don't matter, just the fact that he feels treaten unfairly.
    – MechMK1
    Mar 2, 2018 at 8:47

I have found in online gaming that certain games/modes bring out the worst in some people, often to the detriment of everyone.

Sometimes it can be worth only playing with some people in certain game modes, maybe strongly insisting on doing this.

e.g. I wont play the game "Left 4 Dead 2" on VS mode with some friends because they play it too much and take it too seriously for my liking, and they get angry with me when I make a mistake - however I will play co-op campaign mode as it gets a lot less heated.

So my advice would be if he's getting too angry to see if there are other, potentially less competitive games he would prefer to play - especially if he rage quits the game your currently playing.

  • The funny thing is that we're not even playing anything competitive. His problem isn't losing, his problem is he feels treaten unfairly.
    – MechMK1
    Mar 2, 2018 at 8:44

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