The Rage

The rage for having grown to fast
When adults have stolen your childhood ...
The rage to be lashed at by societies norms
The rage for having the rage since we were a child
- La Rage, Keny Arkana

Just this once, I wish for a real phone.

The conversation had not been pleasant. The source of my anger is unimportant. The source is rarely as important as that horrible, shaky, bile-fueled feeling. That rude sense that my kidneys will eject themselves and black coagulated blood will eject from my torso burning holes into the asphalt as they land.

I long to slam the phone into the cradle, to create the rattle and crack of breaking plastic. As it is, I can only reach vigorously with the cursor and press harder than necessary on the left mouse-button, banishing skype into a shaking demon's hell.

My computer, oblivious to my state of mind, responds with a lollipop-guild “boing.” A dialog pops up, asking me to rate the call quality. There is no button for "hydrochloric."

The rage deepens. I launch a game.

I’m not naturally an angry person - not any more. I’m not prone to fits of rage, mania, or depression. I’m even-tempered. I wasn’t always this way. In my teens I was introverted and emotional. In my twenties I was aggressive and assertive and angry. In my thirties I was stressed and anxious under the burden of finally being a grown up. But so far my forties have been characterized by a level of calm and centeredness that I feel very protective of.

In each phase of my life, I’ve been a gamer. In each phase of my life, the games have acted as my exorcist, helping burn out that which blocked me and restore balance to my life.

As teen Julesy, I longed to live in other worlds. On the surface, I found no place for myself. It was unclear to me how the topside world actually worked. But I discovered logic, grace and majesty in the books of Robert E. Howard and J.R.R. Tolkien. I tried my hand at godhood sitting across the table from the rare friend rolling 20 sided dice, navigating the Tomb of Horrors. But mostly, I explored worlds of words inside inside the Apple II, the TRS-80 and the Commodore 64.

I balanced those thoughtful, painstaking explorations in interactive fiction with a different kind of discovery – competition. Holding the black-rubber phallus of an Atari 2600 Joystick, I became a violent, vicious, conscienceless killer. I destroyed wave after wave of my companions’ 8-bit Combat tanks. I burned down the walls of their castles in Warlords.

By my 20s, I had cast aside my shyness and replaced it with hubris and peacock-tail. I fancied myself kicking ass and taking names, and I let the demon run in Doom. The dawn of the first person shooter was possibly the most important moment in my emotional life to that point. Trapped in a too-quick and stillborn marriage, I was able to purge the testosterone rage night after night without shedding real blood, without ending up face down in back alleys, without being mortified in the morning.

And in the still and quiet moments, I was able to engage the part of my brain that would prove more important – the intellectual parts not governed by crude chemical messengers but by firing synapses. I discovered the languorous pace of strategy in Dune 2 and Warcraft. They created a place for me to tell my own stories, where I was the hero, but a less bloody one. A leader of men, sitting in the dark at 2AM.

In my 30s, my capacity for rage had faded, and the weight of being an adult was heavy and often unwelcome. Sitting in the dark, I would often long to simply be something different – someone else. Ultima Online, Quake, and Age of Empires taught me I could go online and be anyone, any age, any place. Games become less pure escape, and more a true alternate life. On the other side of multi-player, I was no longer just pretending to be someone else, I was engaged in a collective therapeutic delusion of deep power and real significance.

For each person who I am and have been, the virtual worlds I inhabit have molded around me, being both what I wanted and what it turned out I needed.

It is this omniform nature of games that is most misunderstood. Gamers have come so far, and yet we are still facing a battle of perception. Somehow, the word “game” has a mock specificity beyond that of the word “book” or “film.” And yet games have had a much more pervasive effect on my day-to-day life then either paper or celluloid. Games haven't encouraged me to be a bad person. Frogger did not convince me to jump into oncoming traffic. Games have allowed me to both forget and explore myself.

Tonight, the rage from a bad day at the end of a bad week is a tumor. I could, if the weather was better, run it off, burning it through with lactic acid. I could, with just a touch more self-hate, bury it under soft sad pillows of gin. But I have another outlet – I can excoriate this scaly mass with a rake of fake bullets and a salve of ersatz blood. And when the rage has worn off, I can build back up from the exposed skin, not only with the wound dressed, but possibly even stronger.

Comments

"We didn't start the fire! It was always burning since the world was turning..."

I'm right there with you. I use games to escape, to relax and unwind.

I hope you have a better time next week.

You really do emanate calm throughout the steps from one gaming decade-mood to the next. I really like it. Thanks rabbit. It's given me some food for thought.

Duoae wrote:

"We didn't start the fire! It was always burning since the world was turning..."

I'm going to go out on a limb here and suggest this is the first time in history that Billy Joel has been summoned on the same page as Keny Arkana.

Heh.

rabbit wrote:
Duoae wrote:

"We didn't start the fire! It was always burning since the world was turning..."

I'm going to go out on a limb here and suggest this is the first time in history that Billy Joel has been summoned on the same page as Keny Arkana.

Heh.

It helps that i'm so ignorant It was either that or something along the lines of the repeated cycle of lives....

There is nothing I enjoy after work then to decompress with at least 30 minutes of gaming. Gets my mind back to a more peaceful, laid back state that I enjoy. Regardless of whether it is an FPS or MMO, mindless fragging helps get my mind away from financial reports and balance sheets.

I've explained this to many of my non-gaming co-workers and roommates and many seem to react with a slightly judgemental edge at the mention of gaming, but then seem to understand the point behind the sort of gaming meditation.

"Even tempered" in paragraph 6 should be hyphenated.

The rage for having grown to fast

Interesting lyric. I suppose I'd be angry too if I'd grown solely for the purpose of fasting.

I had to google Keny Arkana and frankly I'm stupefied that you'd even know who the little wanker is and saddened that now I know. Jerk. I think a retaliatory Buttroll is in order.

nsmike wrote:

"Even tempered" in paragraph 6 should be hyphenated.

He likes it better if you PM his typos. It saves him face. And he told me that every time I PM him a typo, I get another entry into a drawing for a free Xbox 360.

Alien13z wrote:
nsmike wrote:

"Even tempered" in paragraph 6 should be hyphenated.

He likes it better if you PM his typos. It saves him face. And he told me that every time I PM him a typo, I get another entry into a drawing for a free Xbox 360.

I was trying to induce more rage

NS Mike: Success you have had. Stop it you must. (grin)

As for Keny Arkana - the best part about her is you can't understand 99% of what she's saying even if you do speak French. I may not agree with all her politics, but then I don't agree with pretty much anyones politics. If I stopped listening to music because I didn't like the musicians political affiliations, I'd have a shallow pool to fish in. If you like rap, listen to it for the technique and then judge, I'd say.

nsmike wrote:

I was trying to induce more rage :)

Same here!

I think I was too subtle with my dig, either that or the lyrics really are ... odd.

Nice article, and timely. It seems Rabbit isn't the only one looking at the soothing effects of simulated violence. http://www.next-gen.biz/index.php?op...

As for that phallic joystick of yours, it seems that as technology has evolved, so have our metaphors for control mechanisms: http://www.heroine-sheik.com/2008/04...

I remember when videogames were blamed for Columbine.

Me? The only thing that kept me from shooting up a school is videogames.

Though frankly, I'd prefer a society where we were allowed to actually be honest in our opinions. I think "tact" is overrated.

Bad translation on my part most likely. Here's the one that rings most true (from Style Libre):

Laisse moi écrire avant de mourir de l'intérieur
Le stylo mon arme pour que ma douleur interne meurt

(Roughly: Let me write before I die inside. The pen is the weapon that kills my pain.)

Games are competition for me.
Other than academics, they are the competition where I win, a lot.

Tonight, the rage from a bad day at the end of a bad week is a tumor. I could, if the weather was better, run it off, burning it through with lactic acid. I could, with just a touch more self-hate, bury it under soft sad pillows of gin. But I have another outlet – I can excoriate this scaly mass with a rake of fake bullets and a salve of ersatz blood.

I look forward to Team Fortress 2 tonight.

I run Quake Wars as a rage outlet. Then either one of the following happens:

a) my team loses, I quit it and get even more enraged.
b) my team wins, I laugh out loud and play more Quake Wars until a) happens.

I think there's a flaw in my gaming therapy but I can't quite put a finger on it.

I'm 100% in agreement rabbit. Video games are an outlet for all the frustration in my life and a way to get my mind right. Great article.

Tkyl wrote:
Tonight, the rage from a bad day at the end of a bad week is a tumor. I could, if the weather was better, run it off, burning it through with lactic acid. I could, with just a touch more self-hate, bury it under soft sad pillows of gin. But I have another outlet – I can excoriate this scaly mass with a rake of fake bullets and a salve of ersatz blood.

I look forward to Team Fortress 2 tonight.

Tkyl, please backstab rabbit before he can use my beautiful Team Fortress 2 as some kind of spiritual exfoliant for his weird, reptilian soul-skin. Rabbit, I'll heal you, but only if you promise not to slough off dead skin cells while I'm doing it. And share that gin.

Oh, is it Gang Up On Rabbit night already?

If i could i'd buy Elysium and you a drink. With your articles for the week it sounds like your state of minds could use one.

Hah! I fool you all! My house is currently being painted (the inside) so I am far away from my gaming rig, living in an apartment. For some reason there are FIVE pre-teen girls having a sleepover in said apartment. Regardless, there will be no TF2, just catchup on Battlestar Galactica and PSP-Haxor goodness.

rabbit wrote:

For some reason there are FIVE pre-teen girls having a sleepover in said apartment.

If only there were five nubile college girls with an undying adoration for writers having a sleepover in said apartment. Your next article would be more...mellow.

rabbit wrote:

Hah! I fool you all! My house is currently being painted (the inside) so I am far away from my gaming rig, living in an apartment. For some reason there are FIVE pre-teen girls having a sleepover in said apartment. Regardless, there will be no TF2, just catchup on Battlestar Galactica and PSP-Haxor goodness.

Aw, I kept waiting for Quintin to make a Steam event called Gang Up On Rabbit Night. Now it sounds like your anger level is decreasing. Rob was there tonight, but he was pretty relaxed.

Nyles wrote:

Aw, I kept waiting for Quintin to make a Steam event called Gang Up On Rabbit Night. Now it sounds like your anger level is decreasing. Rob was there tonight, but he was pretty relaxed.

I was too preoccupied, trying not to get killed by Tkyl for the 500th time.

Rabbit wrote:

But so far my forties have been characterized by a level of calm and centeredness that I feel very protective of.

Just wait until the kid(s) hit puberty. The lurking demon of rage will reappear until vanquished by the paladin of reason (and a nice long night of WOW). My basement is my sanctuary with a locking door and a bookshelf full of distraction. I have spend many a dinnertime engaged in virtual mayhem to prevent becoming yet another statistic and morning news headline.

I feel your pain and revel in the solution....

"Greetings Dr. Falken. Would you like to play a game?"

party time at pcman's house!

I can only imagine.

Great article.

I have 2 ways of going in to games. And I created the second one because I had the same problem as shihonage.

1: Is going into gaming to be competative. As boogle, I win a lot in gaming, but outside of that, there is not so much winning to be done. So being the one on top in a competative environment is great. The drawback is when losing for some or other reason, then I try to enter stage 2.

2: Is going into gaming, or coming from state one, to let off steam. This is where I do not care about competition, do not look at the leader board, and do not compute your kill/death ratio. This is where I go in to a game to do damage, no matter how insignificant. It's about breaking stuff and heads. About that weird rush action you do, kill that one guy and then fall off some cliff by mistake and laugh about it.

Rabbit wrote:

That rude sense that my kidneys will eject themselves and black coagulated blood will eject from my torso burning holes into the asphalt as they land.

Rabbit, I must say that was very visceral, and kind of scary. I hope it never happens to me.

ColdStream wrote:

If only there were five nubile college girls with an undying adoration for writers having a sleepover in said apartment. Your next article would be more...mellow.

If only Rabbit's wife would allow the nubile college nymphs in. Actually she might let them in but deny Rabbit the opportunity to play with them, thereby claiming victory for herself.