Rage against the machine

October 29, 2009

Xbox 360 - ControllerStraight--screenshot copy

Recently I’ve noticed an upturn in the explosive rage I experience during particularly taxing sections of the games I’ve been playing. My girlfriend asserts that my smashing of the controller into the sofa is as comical a sight as it is disturbing, but I confess that it made me question my motives for gaming. What is it that’s actually causing so much anger? Constant death, instant failures and a general feeling that I know I can do better drive me into fits of fury, but cast into doubt whether I can still consider these particularly stressful experiences as entertainment. No other medium elicits such a range of emotions in me – I view TV with listless apathy, perhaps even contempt, and whilst I enjoy movies – and experience both laughter and sadness whilst watching them – a film has never moved me to slam the remote down repeatedly as I scream profanities that would make even Gordon Ramsey blush; over , and over, and over again.

Perhaps such emotional investment can be apportioned to the inextricable link between videogames and my life. I’ve grown up with a controller in my hand; all the way from a bulky black joystick connected to my brick of a C64, to the smooth ergonomic contours of the Xbox 360 gamepad – over two decades of digital entertainment. As such, perhaps I’m more susceptible to a feeling of being hard done by, of being scorned by poor game design, cheap difficulty, or shoddy controls? Or perhaps increasing time constraints, imposed by a life of work and other commitments, has eroded my tolerance of being forced to replay a challenging section over and over again?

The other, more unpalatable, explanation is that I’ve grown addicted to videogames, and cannot accept that they are simply another entertainment channel, to be given no more emotional investment than a night down the pub, a movie in with the girlfriend or a game of poker with friends.I’d like to think that I’m not suffering addiction, but find it hard to so easily explain away my rage against my favourite hobby. Perhaps I’m not alone in being quick to anger over videogames. Perhaps, as the typical gamer demographic grows up, along with the games industry, it’s time to produce experiences that can be enjoyed as part of a larger entertainment tapestry that factors in the increasing time constraints of a 21st century lifestyle. As attention spans grow shorter, so too do fuses.

Am I the only person to get so angry at videogaming failures?

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3 Responses to “Rage against the machine”

  1. Zeph Says:

    I think the reason you, me, and so many others get angry at video games is that we invest time and money into them and yet our will is continuously blocked by them. Movies, books, and TV shows simply progress and do not cause us anger unless they don’t function properly.

    I know when I play video games, I want a challenge, but I prefer a challenge that scales based on how well I play, as I care about the story and the gameplay a lot more than the challenge.


    • Yeh I agree Zeph. I find myself in a bit of a bind recently when presented with the Difficulty select screen. My natural inclination is to choose the lowest difficulty setting, to save me from getting angry with the game and in order to see it through to the end. However, my inner completionist/perfectionist wants the trophies/achievements that go with completion on the harder difficulty settings!

      Ces’t la vie, eh? đŸ˜‰

  2. Tony Goff Says:

    I normally play on medium as it’s a fine balance between making progress and discovering the story line. If I play Modern Warfare on Veteran I die so much it takes me forever to get anywhere and I start to forget why I’m shooting people in the middle east in the first place. Plus with time constraints with work/life/girlfriend I simply can’t justify taking forever to get anywhere just for more of a challenge.

    The only games I play on hard are those that I know I’m good at (for example Halo is always played on Legendary) and those that were so much fun the first time around that I want to replay them for more of a challenge, but with less emphasis on the story line as I already know it, like Gears of War.


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