Tips for Playing with Raging Players

You’ve seen this type of player…constantly yelling at the game, cussing, slamming the machine around, rage tilting after a drain, angrily stomping away after their turn is over. Then while waiting for their next turn they bitch and moan to anyone nearby about how the game screwed them and everything was just bullshit.

Lately when this type of player is in my group for tournament or league play, I find myself going down the same negativity path as games progress and by the end of the night I find myself in a shit mood that I wasn’t in before play started. Even if I played decent, I don’t feel like I did and the evening was generally not fun.

When I play with nice, calm players, I too am more calm and bad balls/bad games don’t bother me that much even when I play poorly…pinball can be fun after all.

Apparently I don’t have the ability (yet) to not let the rage players affect me when I have to play with them. How do you successfully handle this type of player when they are in your group?


Ask the TD to refer to Section III, Items 1 and 8.

It’s really not something anyone should have to deal with or adapt to. These people should be made aware that what they’re doing is unacceptable and hurting the experience for others, and if they can’t tone it down they need to leave.

Also, not an actual suggestion, but I’ve thought it could be useful to show these players video of themselves raging out so they can see how stupid it looks.


Call them out. See something say something. I know it’s hard, I know it’s difficult. I do my best to call out anyone I see acting like this. It’s only by everyone being able to speak up against something like this can we end it or take note to it.

Don’t feel comfortable? Talk to the TD put the burden on them. Just speak up, say something anything. It’s most likely not just you that feels this way and I agree it’s off putting to a lot of new people too.

I’m more than happy to speak up or say something especially if I notice someone else looks uncomfortable. That goes for anything and everything not just someone’s rage. I have no problem running my mouth :wink:


As my wife is fond of saying: “Unhappy people behave badly”.

I would submit to you it’s not the game they’re mad about, but something else. In that case, calling them out for their behavior in front of others is, in my opinion, not going to work. It will just increase their angst, because it’s not really the pinball game they’re upset about.

I have seen this type of behavior in my league play very rarely with one particular player and I generally let it go, or tell the TD/league director. I just take a deep breath and remind myself that, at the end of the day, this is a child’s game that I play for fun. Personally, I can think of nothing less fun than the thought of getting into a confrontation with another player over a pinball game. So my advice is to inform your TD about the behavior and let them deal with it.

As mentioned above, there are rules to deal with this type of behavior. Also, as an aside, not every pinball experience will be the best pinball experience. It’s like driving to work. Sometimes there’s no traffic and you sail right there and sometimes there’s an ugly crash that ruins your commute. Thankfully that’s rare…

I do understand it comes from something else, but making people aware of their bad habits and how it effects others I do believe will help it. Humans learn by experience and by experiencing or seeing what it causes others I think will help curb their decisions.


It can also be a local culture thing. I know guys who behave differently depending on which location and other players they’re with. They’ll rage tilt at one place because it’s common for others to do it, but not at another because no else does.

1 Like

In a wider context, one of the things I’ve found that really turns off new players are ill-behaved experienced players. This can be exacerbated when there is a gender imbalance in the event, as often happens.

As others mentioned, I’d recommend discussing with the Tournament Director. They are in charge of monitoring and correcting player behavior so that everyone enjoys the event.


Totes agree. I had a hand in beefing up the Personal Conduct language, and we specifically wanted to deter behaviors like this that make tournaments feel less welcoming to all. As a TD, my conversations with rage-y players are typically brief, casual, and (semi) private, but I make it clear that X thing they did was not cool and that they should refrain from that behavior in the future. If the rage expressed is egregious, a yellow/red card is typically an appropriate sanction, but most of the time giving people a heads up to tone it down is sufficient. When I’m TDing, I try to keep an eye on all matches that are happening and say something regardless of whether it’s my group, but I always encourage players to let me know if something is not getting dealt with.


From a competition standpoint, it’s important to realize more often than not, when your opponent is tilting you’re gaining an advantage.

From a “hey, we’re having casual fun play” standpoint, I honestly just turn into a smart ass and it pretty much diffuses it.

It doesn’t bother me if someone yells, cusses, etc. It’s happened at pretty much every event I’ve been to, people show passion and/or frustration in different ways. The reality is, the majority of people that are raging aren’t in their right frame of mind in the middle of the match, so I’m not going to get in their way of that. That being said, if they’re being abusive to another player, that’s a whole other issue that I think should be immediately dealt with.


This is a repeat, but it is worth repeating to say tell the TD. As a Tournament Director, I’m often pulled in a lot of directions, answering questions, freeing stuck balls, trying to concentrate on my own games, making rulings. I don’t see everything and I want to know when someone is behaving badly so I can keep an eye on it and have a conversation with the person when I see the behavior. I completely see it as my role and I appreciate when people tell me about something I may have missed. I also care a lot about my players, and sometimes when that behavior occurs, it’s because of something bigger in the player’s world that is going on and we just have a chat and I can say “I hear you, this is a rough time, let’s work on taking some deep breaths and not taking it out on the machines”.

Additionally, if you told the TD and it keeps happening, tell the TD again. Don’t make an assumption that nothing happened and it’s not worth telling the TD. You may be totally unaware that your TD had a private conversation with the person and being made aware of continued behavior allows us to escalate that conversation to the next level. Like Zoe, sometimes I’ll do a verbal warning/discussion before yellow card, at which point if I see it again, you get a DQ.


I don’t know how over the top the actions we are talking about here, so I don’t know if what I am saying relates or is completely inappropriate.

I often put a lot of personal pressure on myself, and have high hopes / expectations for my play. In some situations, I have been known to rage a bit, flip off the machine or cuss at the machine. This is generally very dependent of the environment.

There are things that effectively change my behaviour. When I am in an environment where I am cheering on my opponents, fist bumping on awesome balls and having a fun supportive time, I am far less likely to get upset. Being in a positive celebratory environment makes it weird to get upset. When those around me look more disappointed about my drain then I feel, I switch more into a mode of reassuring them that it is fine.

I personally would respond well to people just directly pointing out that I am approaching or crossing the line of what they consider appropriate. Again not everyone take it the same way, but I would like the feedback.

The other thing is tighten your tilts if you can. If I am at a machine I can put on 2 legs and get only 1 warning, I am going to be more forceful with the machine in general. On that drain, I am going to try to shimmy it back, even if it doesn’t seem possible. I will also often do the action I thought would have saved the ball, in a hope that it will help get into my muscle memory. But these actions can look ragey, and maybe are. Tight tilts reduce this.

I understand putting pressure on yourself and high expectations, but when I see players start to yell, cuss, etc. I feel they disrespect their opponents, as if they expected to do better than the other players or it was a given they should win. From your perspective you may just be mad at yourself or the randomness of the machine, but it doesn’t come across that way.

As an alternative to wasting your energy raging, why not channel that energy into thinking about how you can play better on the next ball, next game, or in the next tournament? Congratulate your opponents if they beat you, but then try to beat them next time. Remember the old saying, “Don’t get mad, get even.”?

I’m not directing this comment specifically at you, gammagoat. Just at anyone who rages.


Or maybe they are just disappointed in their own performance, or maybe they are just highly competitive people. I understand not liking how someone else shows emotion, but I’m never going to tell someone they’re wrong for how they express themselves.

1 Like

Thats not expressing themselves. That’s not being able to control ones own emotions to handle a situation like that. Which in itself is a skill and a real part of the game. There are very few “rage tilters” that are the true top percent of players. It’s not by coincidence that happens.


It absolutely is expressing themselves. It can be cathartic to release like that and some personality types depend on it for a sort of emotional reset. You don’t like that sort of expression, and that’s your right. If a given tournament doesn’t like that sort of expression, that is the TD’s right to curb it. Nothing wrong on either side of it.

I would much rather see emotion than a robotic bottling of heat-of-the-moment feelings; that isn’t healthy. I have been on both sides of it, as both the rager and the one watching the rager, so I’d like to think I have an understanding of what’s going on in that person’s mind. Of course, one can take it too far, but I don’t have a problem with a little bit of competitive fire.


Tell them to knock it off, privately. If they still can’t control themselves, give them a yellow card.

If “expressing yourself” is interfering with other people enjoying the tournament, you should re-examine your behavior. No one wants to see a temper tantrum.


I’m going to let this go because I’m aware of where I am and the type of discussions this place tolerates. If I’ve made at least one person think about what the “rager” might be going through and have a little compassion and understanding, I’ll be happy with that.

1 Like

All events should have a participant roll call, review of the rules(format), known game issues and the TD can highlight specific conduct that will and wont be accepted. As a TD and in trying to create a fun atmosphere ill often say things like “There is no yelling/swearing at the machine nor your fellow participant” “There is no kicking or hitting the machine nor your fellow participant” etc… i try to be playful in communicating but it is enforced by players communicating to me or my own observation.

1 Like

I do find it interesting that some people have this train of thought. I’ve had to reprogram my brain when I started playing pinball competitively last year because after playing baseball over 20 years, it was the exact opposite. People who got mad, raged, etc, weren’t given a second thought, but people that showboated, celebrated to the point of showing up an opponent, etc was the taboo thing to do. I’ve seen this happen several times at various events, yet no one seems to think twice of this. It’s actually quite bizarre to me.


Some people seem to have no problem if a player yells out “Yeah!!!” or “Boom Baby!!” or whatever when they make a key shot or win a game… but find it horrible if a player yells out “Sh-t!!” or “F-ck!” when they catch a bad break. We’re all humans, the positive and negative emotions can be equally powerful.