Rage against the machine
October 29, 2009
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?