Image courtesy of Jinx.com (Nerd Rage Women’s Tee)
Something I’ve been asked a lot is how I stay calm when playing video games. Considering I live with the world’s angriest gamer, I thought it’d be a good idea to talk about it! First of all, a disclaimer: I generally am very good, naturally, at playing games for fun even in a competitive environment, and am probably calmer than your average gamer because of it. I can laugh at mistakes I make, or those of my teammates, and still have a good time when I lose, so this will colour my post a little.
However, that said, even though I work in the games industry and often stream these days, I am not some paragon of calm and happy. I am not at all immune to raging, shouting, gritting my teeth at my screen or even having the urge to throw things around because of something that went wrong. The difference is I generally don’t voice my rage to other people, particularly not in the game, because one simple fact has stuck with me throughout my gaming “career”: flaming a person on your team does not improve their performance, nor does it make you more likely to win, and it does nothing to calm you down. In fact, if anything it makes that person play worse because they’re upset, it irritates your teammates thus making them perform poorly, and it’ll stoke the fire you’re holding in your chest making you more angry.
I am no stranger to competitive games. I have been playing FPS games since I was 12 or 13, and even played in local and national tournaments in Quake III and CPMA in particular. I was pretty good at Q3, but I often got psyched out and over time got frustrated when I didn’t win. It was not uncommon for me to stop after a 1v1 and close the game down, walk away from my PC and grumble to myself. I have even shouted in exasperation. Over the years, as my skill level has admittedly fallen, I’ve found myself getting more annoyed when things don’t go how I expected, particularly in FPS games where I feel like I can do better. They’re high energy and fast paced, so it’s a lot easier to feel explosive anger building up.
So what do I do? Well, first of all, I try to talk about it (or rant about it) to my fiancé. I tell him the stupid thing I just did, or the poor performance my team are putting on, or the ridiculous things the enemy seems to be capable of. I growl and I grumble. And if all else fails, I quit the game as soon as I can. If it’s a game where players can’t fill in for me, or there’s a punishment for leaving, I wait til the end of the match and then stop. After that? Get up and walk away from the PC. A change of environment can really encourage a change in mood.
One thing a coworker recommended to me was alt-tabbing out of the game. If you die, instantly alt-tab out. This way, you’re not tempted to type anything aggressive into chat that you may regret later. If you feel the need to say those things, type them into Notepad. You can delete it later. This is also a great way of breaking the cycle; alt-tabbing changes the environment a little, and allows you to calm down. Wait out your respawn timer if you have to and try to breathe. Four seconds in, six seconds out. Repeat. Then alt-tab back in and try again, refreshed.
Ultimately, I don’t think there’s a magical way to stop you from getting angry at games. Most passionate gamers do! But these were some tips to prevent it from impacting other people, and also to stop it from ruining your whole day.