Hi. My name is Allen, and I’m a ragequitter. I’ve allowed myself to get so angry that I’ve broken games, thrown controllers, and made sounds that would have an exorcist shaking in their boots. I’m not proud of some of these moments, but I’ve learned how to avoid getting angry in the first place. There are many ways to get frustrated with a video game, but I’ve learned five helpful strategies to overcome gamer rage.
Tip 1: Change Your Attitude
No one wants to admit when they’re beat, especially gamers. When we finally meet our match, either online or in local multiplayer, we start throwing out excuses like they’re going out of style. Bad spawns, campers, bad teammates, bad controllers, bad maps...the list goes on and on. When you’re an average gamer (which I consider myself to be), it can be frustrating to realize that you’re simply never going to be the best.
I remember an especially tramautic Modern Warfare 2 match. I had been playing the game for far too many hours in college, and my friend (who had never played it) challenged me to a 1v1 splitscreen match. I accepted, confident that I could obliterate him. The match started in my favor, but slowly he caught up with me. With three seconds left, he got the final kill to win the match. I was mad. Hell, I was furious. I took the closest thing to me (a gyro sandwich) and threw it against the wall where it exploded upon impact. Of course, my friend found the whole thing hilarious which just made me even more angry.
When I finally calmed down, I felt more than a little stupid and even a bit ashamed. Why had I gotten so worked up over a game? The answer was simple. My pride had been wounded, as stupid as that sounds. My friend had defeated me despite having never played the game. Sometimes, we need to remember that our abilities as a gamer don’t necessarily define us. We need to remove our egos and accept that loss is an inevitable part of gaming.
Tip 2: Change Your Playstyle
When I was younger, I used to be a button masher. I vividly remember beating my cousin in Tekken 3 by spamming Kuma’s low punches. I didn’t care that I was being cheap or that he wouldn’t play me anymore. I had beaten him and that was all that mattered.
This was my strategy for all fighting games until a little game called Soulcalibur 2 came out. My main was Nightmare because he was big, he hit hard, and I could use the same attacks over and over. At first, I was able to take down my friends easily, but eventually Kilik became the bane of my existence. His speed and range were a powerful combination that thwarted me time and again. I went through the five stages of gaming grief: blaming the game, ragequitting, changing characters, giving up, and acceptance. After I realized that button mashing had failed me, I started training and learned how to counter his moves. Little by little, I improved until I was finally able to beat Kilik consistently, and it felt all the better knowing that I was winning because of skill and not dumb luck (or cheap mechanics).
The lesson here is simple. If you’re finding that your favorite strategies aren’t working, stop using them. Be open to trying new methods and new playstyles.
Tip 3: Change the Difficulty
If you’ve ever had to stop playing a game because it was too difficult, you’re not alone. Picking the right difficulty for a game can sometimes be a real challenge. There’s no universal metric for measuring a game’s difficulty, but most of us completely ignore the easiest difficulty level by default, and perhaps, that’s a mistake.
When God of War 3 released, I decided to play it on easy after being unable to complete God of War 1 and 2 on normal difficulty. I sat down one glorious Friday evening, excited to slay some Greek gods and slay Greek gods I did. As the credits rolled some eight hours later, my heart was pounding and my mind was racing. I had never played a game like that before, and I doubt I would have had the same experience if I had chosen a harder difficulty.
Conversely, I had the opposite experience while playing Uncharted 4. Since I had played all the earlier titles (except for the Vita games), I decided to play on Hard difficulty. At first, it was a welcome challenge, but halfway through the game, I started having trouble with enemies. I began to notice that they had become bullet sponges. By the end of the game, I just wanted it to be over. What had started out as a fun adventure had turned into a slog of hiding behind cover, getting flanked, running out of ammo, and dying. The difficulty didn’t completely ruin the game, but it definitely affected my enjoyment of it.
It may seem like I’m giving conflicting advice, but the lesson is this. Find whatever difficulty allows you to enjoy the game to its fullest. If you’re a gamer that loves a good challenge, don’t settle for a lower difficulty and vice versa. Additionally, most games allow you to change your difficulty at any time and at the very least, you can always replay a game on a higher difficulty. Don’t be afraid to experiment.
Tip 4: Change the Game
Life is hard. Sometimes, you’ve had a bad day or a bad week or even a bad month. You go to play a game that you normally love, but instead of finding enjoyment, you find anguish and frustration.
In my case, Rocket League is my go-to game for a bit of competitive multiplayer fun. Most of the time, I can hop on and have a blast, but sometimes, the fun is nowhere to be found. A few matches don’t go my way, but it’s no big deal. Suddenly, I’m cursing under my breath. A few matches later, I’m screaming at the screen (and probably frightening my neighbors). Finally, my rage reaches its crescendo, and I ragequit. How did I end up here?
There are a lot of things in life that can cause us stress, but video games should not be one of them. Sometimes stress from real life can start to affect virtual reality as well. A bad job, a recent breakup,and even financial troubles can affect what games I want to play. At times like this, I’ve learned that it’s good to have games that can relieve stress, chicken soup for the gamer’s soul. For me, I find that Minecraft, Yoshi’s Wooly World, or Stardew Valley often raise my spirits.
Tip 5: Change the Activity
Dare I say it? If you find yourself frustrated no matter what game you’re playing or who you’re playing with, maybe it’s time to put the controller down. We all hate to hear the phrase, “It’s just a game,” especially in the heat of the moment, but there’s a certain truth to those simple words.
I’ve noticed that games can become increasingly difficult the more frustrated I become. I remember spending hours trying to beat a swoop bike race in Knights of the Republic. After trying for more than an hour, I gave up and turned the game off. I returned the next day and beat it in one try. Had I suddenly developed into a better gamer? No, I wasn’t playing my best because I was frustrated. Sometimes, a little time apart is all that you need, but other times, the problem may be more severe.
I remember years ago I was helping a friend with his gaming channel. We would play video games together three to four times a week for hours and hours and post the best footage online. During this time, gaming felt less like a hobby and more like a job. Over time, the smallest things would frustrate me because I wasn’t enjoying myself anymore. Of course, the more frustrated I grew, the more footage he had to use since everyone loves an angry gamer. Eventually, I stopped helping him and took a sabbatical from gaming. It wasn’t until I balanced my free time that I felt the desire to play video games again. I think balancing our passion for gaming with other passions helps to prevent us from falling into a gaming rut.
For most of us, gaming is just a hobby. Our livelihoods don’t depend on whether we beat a particular level or win a particular match or beat a particular high score. So the next time you find yourself shouting at your TV, ask yourself this simple question. Am I having fun? If you’re not, try one of these strategies, and if all else fails, put the controller down (before it’s too late)!
Written by Allen Brasch - Hailing from Baltimore, Maryland, Allen Brasch is an aspiring writer who loves good science fiction, fantasy, and horror. When Allen's not writing or gaming, he's talking about all things geeky on his podcast, Devil May Play (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCWQT0pAD2Ke1Fd8RcMmPRbA). For more of his work, check out the following sites: