Have you ever caught yourself yelling obscene phrases into your gaming headset? Or perhaps, your child has asked you on at least one occasion to replace their controller after throwing it in outrage. In both scenarios, the gamer experienced video game rage.
Video game rage refers to negative behavior in response to an undesirable gaming outcome. Although a level of frustration is normal in a competitive video game setting, yelling foul, aggressive language and violent behavioral outbursts are signs of video game rage.
Aside from protecting your gaming equipment, understanding video game rage can improve the gaming community and the individual gamer. Today, the social aspect of gaming is beneficial for all. Being aware of abnormal is the first step that we are going to examine in this article.
Is Video Game Rage Normal?
Video games, like sports, are competitive in nature requiring both time and effort for success. Poor sportsmanship, such as throwing equipment and angrily yelling on the field, is understood to be a result of an unwelcomed event such as losing or an unfair referee call. Even though spectators can sympathize with the emotions of the player, often, this behavior is viewed as disrespectful and rude.
In video gaming, most gamers will agree that experiencing some level of disappointment and frustration is normal. Gamers work diligently to reach certain milestones within their video game. As a result, there is a shared sense of understanding when a game does not go as planned. However, as supported by numerous related Reddit forums, the majority of gamers also agree to throw equipment and aggressive swearing are unacceptable behaviors requiring some level of control.
Aside from being frowned upon in the gaming community, psychiatrists warn video game rage can indicate an imbalanced relationship with gaming. Dr. John Kupfner explains rage can result from video game addiction. Which often occurs when players are not achieving the level of success desired.
Being aware of abnormal video game rage is an effective method to check whether you or someone you know is having difficulty controlling their emotions while playing video games. In addition, it can save money by preventing broken video game controllers and consoles. Finally, controlling video game rage can make gaming a more enjoyable experience for the individual gamer and those he or she plays against.
Why Do I Rage at Video Games?
In order to understand and overcome video game rage, the first step is to determine what factors result in this behavior. By identifying these factors, you can begin to unravel the complexity of video game rage and recognize it easier.
Losing a Video Game Can Result in Classic Video Game Rage
Video gamers can be extremely passionate and invested in a game. In fact, just as in sports, gaming has individual gamer statistics and rankings on both a national and global scale. Today, the video game community even has its own celebrities such as teenager Kyle Giersdorf who won three million dollars earning first place in an online Fortnight tournament.
As in other sports and competitions, gamers take pride in their individual rankings and overall success. Losing can jeopardize their pride and gaming stats. Therefore, failing at a game can result in extreme emotions including outbursts of anger, disappointment, and defeat. In short, losing results in behavior attributed to video game rage.
Video Games Increase Stress Leading to More Aggressive Behavior
Video games create a stressful environment for players as they compete to win and advance in a game. According to Dr. Victoria Dunckley’s article Screens and the Stress Response, gaming induces physiological effects of stress including an increased heart rate, blood pressure, and cortisol levels.
One behavioral response to stress is anger, a primary factor in video game rage. Stress is directly linked to the nervous system. When triggered, stress can result in a fight or flight response. Unfortunately for gamers, the fight response is generally activated which in turn is associated with aggressive, angry behavior. Again, this leads to video game rage and broken gaming controllers.
Video Games Can Become a Part of an Individual’s Identity
Dedicated gamers spend a significant amount of time online connected to the gaming community and their gaming avatar. Often, video games become an integral part of an individual’s identity providing them with a sense of purpose and online community.
Often, when playing, it can be challenging for gamers to separate their gaming identity from reality. Further, gaming can become integrated with other areas of an individual’s life such as their work, school, or friend group. As a result, gamers can become embarrassed when they make mistakes during a game. They may put more pressure on themselves to succeed because they feel their peers are judging them based on their abilities. In turn, players may experience stronger emotions of failure and embarrassment leading to moments of rage.
Individuals Use Video Gaming as an Outlet for External Life Stressors
For some, gaming provides an outlet for the frustrations of life. In turn, a bad day at work or school can manifest into a release of anger and emotion while playing video games. Although everyone needs an outlet, video game rage may not be the best form of accomplishing stress release.
Video Game Addiction Can Result in Frustration and Anger
When an individual is addicted to video games, they place gaming before everything else. When a video game is taken away or the gamer experiences moments of failure, this addiction can result in extreme rage and emotional outbursts.
Video Games Have the Ability to Alter the Brain’s Response to Emotions
Playing video games can impact the brain, changing its response to emotional situations. Within the brain, there is a section known as the amygdala which controls the flight or fight response of the nervous system.
MRIs of video game players indicate the amygdala section of the brain becomes less responsive to both fearful and stressful situations. As a result, the brain suppresses negative emotions such as anger and fear.
Although counterintuitive, these suppressed emotions can result in moments of extreme anger and emotion when experienced all at once. The saying, do not bottle up your emotions comes to mind. When a gamer encounters an extreme failure, these emotions can be expressed in video game rage.
A side effect of changes to the amygdala consists of learning material at a slower rate. As video games decrease the response of the amygdala, it prevents it from connecting to the hippocampus of the brain. The hippocampus section of the brain controls memory and learning, but this decreased connection also decreases the speed of learning.
If players are learning at a slower rate, then advancing in the game may become slower. This too can lead to frustration and anger.
For more information on the effects video games have on the brain and emotions, the article Why do Video Games Make You Angry? published on the Healthy Gamer website is a great resource for additional information.
How Do I Overcome Video Game Rage?
With an understanding of the characteristics of video game rage and its potential causes, you may find yourself asking the steps to overcome it. Playing video games in moderation, according to psychologists and medical professionals, is the solution to video game rage.
In order to combat and decrease emotional response to the game, it is important to limit excessive playing time, especially in youth. The article Video Game Rage, written by Dr. Victoria Dunckley, illustrates the positive effects limiting playing time has on children.
According to the American Psychological Association, video games can positively increase social and cognitive skills including reasoning, memory, and perception. As a result of the level of thinking required to master a game. When played in moderation, video games help students achieve in areas of science, mathematics, and engineering-related technology
It is important to ensure video games continue to be positive and gratifying for players. This is achieved by being aware of video game rage and taking necessary action, in the form of reduced playing time, when it becomes problematic.