Gaming, for all the joy and happiness it brings, can also be incredibly frustrating. It can range from “shutting off the game in anger” to “my day is ruined and my disappointment is immeasurable.” Whatever the case may be, being frustrated by a video game is extremely commonplace: just look at all the documented smashed controllers and broken walls on the internet.
That’s why I’ve compiled a list of things to do – for your health and mine, truthfully – that you can turn to when the gaming gets tough.
Listen to music
This is probably the easiest way to calm yourself down when games get particularly irritating. Having a few tough games in Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War (BOCW), Valorant, Apex Legends or Fortnite? Pop in some of your favorite tunes to get your mind to a calm state.
Whether you like the 1980s or not, some great tunes came out that can help lower the blood pressure a little bit. “Never Gonna Give You Up” by Rick Astley is an internet classic, “Take On Me” by A-ha is a certified banger and the list goes on and on. If pop isn’t your thing, there’s bound to be something for you, like hip-hop or metal.
Ultimately, music can help us express ourselves in ways we normally can’t. More often than not, it helps us become more calm and collected as well. So give it a shot — it might help more than expected.
Now, before you immediately look away from this article, I just want you to hear me out. Yeah exercise isn’t fun – believe me, I know – but when something is bothering you, there’s nothing more calming than going for a quick run or walk, pandemic-willing of course.
For me personally, there’s nothing like the feeling of going for a run or lifting weights while blasting a heavy song like “Pledge of Demon” from Yakuza 0 to clear my head. For a time, any song from the “Rocky” franchise pumped me up for a workout.
Nevertheless, the point still stands: if a particular game has ticked you off, perhaps a quick 30-minute circuit might help. As long as you’re blasting tunes that speak to you, who knows: it might actually be fun.
Play a different game
This is relatively straightforward, but when it comes to gamer anger, playing a different game in a completely different genre might help. For instance, if a particular boss in Dark Souls is beating you to a pulp, maybe a quick – or not so quick – exploration of the world in Animal Crossing: New Horizons might be helpful.
Whenever I feel defeated by a game like BOCW and its horrific skill-based matchmaking, I take out my frustration on “menacing men” in Yakuza 0. Other times, I hop on Forza Horizon 4 and race through the English countryside in my custom BMW or Nissan Skyline R34 GT-R.
Just playing something different can help get your mind off things, so it’s important to have a few “distraction” games handy just in case a certain game gets you angry.
Play with no goal in mind
Admittedly, this is a relatively counterintuitive way to approach video games. Like most things, the objective of playing a video game is to succeed and win. However, if you played a game with no concrete objective in mind, that could help relieve any anger a game may cause.
Whenever I get frustrated with a game, sometimes I just shift my mindset to playing for fun instead of ultra-competitively. By shifting my mindset, I’m able to play more freely because I’m not overthinking everything I do — I’m just in the moment and if something happens, I cater my response accordingly. In some ways, this line of thinking is similar to how professional athletes think.
Whenever they’re playing poorly and become frustrated with themselves, one of the first things coaches and other players tell them is to let the game come to them. By letting the game come to them, they’re more relaxed and not worried about the minutia. Adopting this mindset could prove to be fruitful whenever you feel angry.
Watch a movie or TV show
Sometimes, playing video games can be stressful to the point of wanting to do something completely different, which is why I suggest watching a fun movie or your favorite TV show.
Currently, my go-to’s are Gossip Girl and The Mandalorian if I’m looking for a quick fix of calmness. If I’m willing to sit through a few hours, Spider-Man 2 or the first four Fast and Furious movies are at the ready.
I’m not promoting an extremely sedentary lifestyle; rather, I’m promoting a lifestyle of moderation. Maybe watching a movie while exercising can be beneficial to you (if you’re able to swing it.) If not, there’s nothing wrong with watching Avengers: Endgame or Spider-Man: Homecoming for the 12th time to cool off.
Meditating is perhaps the most difficult way to manage gamer anger, but it’s one of the most beneficial as well. Sitting with your own thoughts and letting them run wild in your head while you focus on your breathing for a few minutes is never easy, but being able to be mindful of your mental state is incredibly helpful.
I’ve been practicing meditation for the past five, almost six years and it has been supremely helpful in helping me manage my gaming anger. If none of the aforementioned ways can calm me down, I take a few minutes to essentially reset my brain and whatever’s going on inside me by focusing solely on breathing and the rise and fall of my diaphragm. By focusing on those specific things, all thoughts and feelings soon fall by the wayside and I instantly feel refreshed.
There are a variety of apps available on the Google Play Store or Apple App Store which can get you started on meditation. Again, it will take some getting used to, but if you’re consistent, it can be beneficial in other parts of your life, too, not just with anger.
Obviously, these are just a few ways to manage your gamer anger. Keeping track of your own mental situation is always important, and if you find yourself becoming more and more angry and irritable because of gaming, doing one of these could prove to be helpful.
Remember: it’s just a game. Life goes on, whether you win or lose, so there’s no point in letting it get to you. Have fun and enjoy yourself — your mental health will thank you.