Series: MC Byte Blogs
This blog is one half of a blog series in celebration of our newest partnership with Mastery Coding. Our goal is to cultivate overall health and wellbeing while gaming. Read the MC Byte’s blog: Internet Safety to learn more about taking care of yourself while navigating the online world!
Anger, stress, and irritability are emotions we’ve all felt while gaming. Whether it is an online multiplayer FPS where you’ve been getting camped all game, or a single player open-world game that crashed and lost you hours of progress, it’s easy to get wrapped up in spur-of-the-moment reactions that may not be the healthiest. The most unfortunate scenario is when you play video games to relax, but walk away from the session feeling dissatisfied and more upset than before. How do we learn to take a step back, evaluate our emotions, and respond accordingly in a way that benefits us and those around us?
Recognizing the source of frustration or outrage is a good first step to tempering the beast of angry gaming. Are teammates being frustrating, and you’re having a bad game? Or maybe there’s a level you can’t beat, or you keep dying to the same boss. All of these are valid reasons to be frustrated, and knowing why you’re upset can help to carve a path for negating less favorable outcomes.
Here are some helpful ways to flip these negative feelings around:
1. Look inward, and start with “I” statements
Admittedly, when your heart is beating fast and your hands feel shaky due to anger, it’s hard to look inward and think about what you could have done differently. We have all had those experiences where we blame our teammates or friends in a game for something they did wrong, but understanding that no one is perfect is a necessary reminder. In many situations, there is always something that you as the individual could have done to change the outcome. Take a quick breath and think about the scenario in “I” terms - “What could ‘I’ have done differently?”, or “Where did I make a small error that I know not to do?”. Pointing blame at something you cannot control only makes things worse. Taking responsibility can help make sure you feel in control of your situation.
2. Take a quick break and come back later
Have you ever been stuck on a level or trying to master a mechanic for hours and can’t seem to get it, but you take a break and come back later to execute it perfectly the first time? There’s a reason for that - it’s called the Incubation Effect. “Unconscious Work” comes into play during that downtime when you aren’t actively participating in something. Instead, you have the ability for your brain to unconsciously consider the scenario during other activities. It is actually scientifically proven that taking a break, doing another task, and coming back to something that causes frustration can result in a breakthrough!
3. Find a “reset” that works for you
One of the stories we have at the AEA is from a staff member who has his own personal “reset button”. Whenever he’s having a hard time or feeling upset, he pokes his own belly button, takes deep breaths, and relaxes his body. It sounds super silly, but it works amazingly - and it doesn’t have to be the same action. You could tug on your ears or blow hard out your nose a few times, but any physical action that grounds you and “resets” your mental and physical space is fantastic for becoming tilt-proof!
Or if a reset button isn’t your style, psychology has come up with “grounding”. Grounding is a technique where you utilize all of your senses to pick out distinct sounds, smells, feelings, tastes, or sights to bring you back to feeling better. Find one thing you can see, two things you can smell, and so on until you feel present in the moment to ground yourself.
4. Understand when to mute
Are you playing an online game, and someone in chat is being inflammatory? You probably want to quip back and say something rude, but it’s almost never worth it to engage with trolls in chat. Knowing that there is another person behind the screen intending on making your day worse by disrupting your gameplay, harassing you verbally, or even simply being too critical of your plays creates a toxic environment where all you can do is think about their words and actions. Almost every game has a way to mute someone so you don’t have to listen — utilizing that function makes it easier to focus on yourself and what you can do.
5. Talk about it to a friend
With a friend’s permission, rant to them about how poorly a game went. Share your experiences with them, see if they’ve had similar ones, and try to rest easy knowing that others feel your pain.
6. Identify when things are out of your control
Sometimes, even when you’ve done everything you can to ensure things happen the way you want, there comes a wrench in your plans that throws everything off. Maybe someone disconnects or accidentally destroys something that you worked hard on. Neither of these are your fault, but your reaction to these scenarios is how you pick yourself and your teammates up. There might be nothing you could have changed to make the outcome different, so recognize when you’re upset about something you can’t change and clear your head knowing that you did what you could.
Remember these tips next time a game upsets you. You can always reach the next rank, beat the level you’ve been stuck on for ages, or make up lost progress, but you can’t always take back spoken words, or delete messages — even in today’s online age.
Playing a different game or participating in a different hobby that you feel confident in can bring back those positive feelings and reassure you that these emotions are always passing emotions, and do not have to define you or stick around forever.
Social and Emotional wellbeing are extremely important in the world of gaming, one of the most accessible hobbies on the planet. But taking care of your physical health is also extremely important. The AEA Article “How to Stay Healthy While Gaming” details many ways to keep your body healthy as well as your mind with tips for hand strain, posture, and eye strain, as well as many more!
Riot Games has developed an online quiz to help you determine what your “Tilt Type” is. It’s a great resource for recognizing and taking steps toward doing what’s best for you whenever you get tilted by a game. Are you the Barbarian, who is ambitious and driven, but maybe too impulsive? Or are you the Paladin, who wants to lead teammates to victory, but can become condescending or unable to let go when things don’t go your way? Take the quiz to find out which type you are, and read about your type’s strengths and weaknesses to understand what to do when you get tilted!