Rant: Is It Ever OK To Throw A Controller?

Rant: Is It Ever OK To Throw A Controller?

Two weeks ago, a million-dollar contest supplied an interesting prism through which to view the reactions to different people’s failure to accomplish the same thing in a video game.
In one, a gamer stretched a remarkable achievement into an inhuman streak of perfection, ultimately snapped as much by bad luck as his own physical limitations. In others, their attempts were thwarted much earlier, before they could even be considered any kind of an achievement.

The failure to throw a perfect game in MLB 2K12 and the gamer’s decision either to not throw a controller into the wall, or to shatter it upon the floor, was likewise either entirely sympathetic, or entirely contemptible.

“People who smash $US50 controllers are childish douche bags,” said one commenter, reacting to this anthology of disappointed gamers’ disproportionate reactions. And that’s certainly a reasonable opinion.

“I would have thrown that tv and system out the window,” said another commenter, after seeing TJ Brida’s very sedate response to losing a perfectly pitched baseball game in the 14th inning. And likewise, many of us would empathise.

Is controller-throwing ever justified? Is it never justified? What does it say about a video game that inspires such behavior? What does it say about a gamer who lacks that kind of self-control?

I’ve gone to some very dark places in my video gaming career. Remember the Flightstick Pro? That thing was probably $US80 in 1996. And I wrecked one playing X-Wing on the Mac. Picked it up by the stick and slammed the base into the desk on the game’s penultimate mission, above the Death Star’s surface.

In 2005, playing The Warriors on Xbox, the game’s missions had the habit of switching to a forced perspective — either a platform elevation or an isometric view — and putting you into a minigame that didn’t correspond to the controls you had been playing with for so long. On one level I repeatedly failed, I gouged a chunk out of my apartment wall with the controller, which I would go over with a toothpaste-and-water mixture before moving. My downstairs neighbour — extremely concerned — confronted me the next day. In a “don’t ask” tone of voice designed to get me out of the conversation, I told her that I was dealing with some “personal issues”.

Yeah, if you’re willing to throw an embarrassing temper tantrum and physically destroy console hardware, you probably do have personal issues.

Why is it that controller-throwing is OK? I think it’s because it’s a symbol of the console. A twin analogue controller or a gamepad has no purpose other than to play a video game, whereas a mouse and a keyboard has other applications, and therefore destroying it would be even more pointlessly self destructive. It’s why the Flightstick got slammed on my desk. But when I played Dark Forces with a keyboard and mouse, I took out my frustrations kicking the rubbish bin.

I don’t think it is ever OK to throw a controller. If the game is that disappointing, take it to the store where you bought it and demand a refund. (I realise we’re talking about physical media sold at retail. This phenomenon, to my mind, seems to be symptomatic of console gaming. If you’re hurling keyboards and mice because of a PC game, then you really have issues.)

Do we want to see destroyed controllers? Sure! The post about MLB 2K12 players trashing theirs is the most-viewed post in the short three-month history of Sportaku. No. 2? The narrative about TJ Brida. Readers, even if they weren’t sports video gamers, deeply sympathised with his disappointment — even as he made no physical demonstration of that.

It also raises up a truth that has been very hard for me to accept as a writer and, to be honest, a basically immature person: Never confuse a natural interest in the spectacle of anger for an actual interest in what is making you angry.


  • Yes it is ok to throw a controller. its called Halo Reach, Solo Legendary facing 2 fucking hunters near the end of the game.

  • After knocking over my TV which crushed three of my PS2 controllers playing Tekken, I realised anger was a really bad habit of mine with video games, and since then I’ve never thrown a controller again. The fact that I was 14 at the time makes me lean towards what the first commentator dude said – “People who smash $US50 controllers are childish douche bags”

  • I have never smashed a controller but have had the urge to, multiple times. I think it’s okay if you bought it’s yours. If you’re smashing someone else’s then you’re a douche. Personally, I think the urge comes from disappointment, when I fail in a level repeatedly I feel like I should be doing better. If I was taking a test over and over, I would learn and I would no longer make mistakes, so when the same mistakes keep happening and I’m not fixing anything, disappointment turns to rage. I think it would be the same if the situations were really happening. Take a racing game for instance, if we were to have access to unlimited of the same car on a single course and kept crashing at the same corner, we would be just as angry, surely.
    You do get the odd moron who gets angry because of something small, like that flower should be red, and they have issues, but video games are a medium where you are putting yourself in the shoes of the character, therefore when they fail, you fail. The more immersed you are, the more emotionally invested you are and you are much more likely to become enraged enough to destroy property.

  • i throw my ps3 controller into the couch if i give an easy goal to a mate when playing fifa. I almost did the same when playing it on the vita and had t o pull back mid swing!

    • I used to stand up and throw the controller at the couch, usually deep amount the cushions. I stopped after it bounced back and hit me in the lip.

      • Haha my mate threw his controller into the couch but he forgot that his brother was lying there! Straight to the face! Ahhh good times…

  • Yeah I’m pretty bad regarding this, though ONLY with multiplayer games, and after I’ve had a few drinks. Even very drunk (I’m making myself out to be a huge alcoholic.. anyway) I’m always really genial, but when I’m playing Battlefield 3 and losing because of my terrible coordination, I lose it. Terrrriiiibbbbblle. I have decided to only play when I’m with others.

    • wait wait wait…..You’re saying you get drunk (losing co-ordination) and then get angry because of a lack of co-ordination….I know a group you could attend, they might be able to fix your problem ;P

      • Hahah, yes. Basically. It’s a terrible terrible cycle of shame and broken controllers. And headaches the next day.

  • The only controller i have ever broken was a PS2 controller trying to get past the test for the Pilots license in Grand Theft Auto San Andreas.

  • I have a PS3 controller that has a damaged shoulder button because I got annoyed at a game, although I can’t remember which one. I am bad with getting angry at having to do something over and over with no success, but I’ve managed to stop myself destroying property over it.

  • I broke several N64 controllers playing mario party

    ..but that was from wearing out the joystick, not throwing them. It just seems stupid. If the game is badly designed, stop playing it. If you’re frustrated at yourself, don’t destroy a controller for no reason. If it’s something like dark souls, accept that you’ll be re-loading saves extremely often.

  • I’ve never even come close to throwing a controller. Some things get you riled up yeah, but that has never translated into violence. Mostly just frustrated grunts or swearing. And that’s only if there are people to listen. If i’m on my own, the most dramatic reaction i can have is just quitting the game.

  • I have only done something like this once though it was not to a controller, i turned off my N64 and remove my copy of Cruisin USA and threw the game at the wall.

    later i pick it up, check it over and found one of the sides had come unclipped and i push ed it back together heard a click – check that it work and sold it to a friend

  • My Xbox is plugged into my PC monitor so I usually just drop the controller onto the desk if I’m ever feeling ragey. Haven’t actually thrown a controller since I was 8 or 9.

  • Kind of related: I threw a 360 out of a window once in a non-gaming related argument with an ex, and he was like “What are you doing you crazy bitch, that’s yours, remember??!”Lesson learned – never get so angry you destroy your own property by mistake, always make sure it belongs to someone else first.
    I am worse than any guy I know, I flipped the table, for real over a Magic the gathering game once, and almost punched a guy, there were like 3 people holding me back. Yeah, I need help. :p

  • If you have ever smashed a controller, it would have been because either you haven’t been good enough at the game, or the game has some major faults. If it’s the later it would make more sense to throw the disk against the wall, and if it’s the first…. throw yourself against the wall.

  • If I ever get close to throwing or smashing my controller then I turn my PS3 off immediately and go do something else, that isn’t so rage inducing.

  • If that game glitches on you and sends you back 1/2 an hour, i reserve the right to punish something so it might as well be myself and the nearest thing to me that which being the controller in my hands.

  • Only ever abused a controller once and that was in GT5. If you hit an AI car you’d spin out and they’d keep going. If the AI car hit you, you’d spin out an they’d keep going. After attempting one of the extreme events repeatedly and having this happen over and over I lost it and kicked over the stand I had the wheel mounted on. Didn’t break anything but regretted it immediately.

    • i can’t remember if this was GT5 or 4, but if you rammed a car you’d be speed capped to 50kph. if they rammed you, youd be speed capped to 50kph. i bit the rubber cap off one of my analogue sticks

  • I have never thrown a controller, although I had accidentally dropped one of my Halo Reach 360 controllers onto tiles, from about 1m high, no dents, nothing, but it fell on the right bumper and now it doesn’t work right since…. might have to open it up and fix it soon (could just be a bumped sensor…. hopefully!)

  • Funny this article appears now.

    I’ve done a few phenomenal feats in my time. Mile High Club in COD4, Well Done in Super Meat Boy, and never felt the urge to utterly destroy a controller… until about 30 minutes ago. My 4 year old was having trouble with de Blob 2 on the Zoo level. Just wanted it finished so that the hour she’d spent on it wasn’t wasted. Took me nearly an hour if repeating the final section as there were so many ‘instant death’ objects that would appear as the awful locked camera would spun around, and the only checkpoint the game had was about 10 mins play time prior. It took a GREAT deal of restraint, not just to smash the controller into the game disc until they were both shattered remains, but also showing a 4 year old that kind of frustration is unacceptable. I didn’t smash the controller, but the game went in the bin.

  • Nah. Geting angry and smashing stuff does not make you play better. Accepting your failure and focusing properly, increases your skill and concentration. Playing better is the only way. On a lighter note, me and me mates usually turn our epic failures into stupid body movements and noises – + lotsa swearing and laughing when we make fools out of ourselves.

  • This is really a topic of conversation? This isn’t even videogame related. It’s a minor reaction to a minor event that EVERY SINGLE PERSON ON THIS PLANET has engaged in at least once in damn near every area of life. I know KotakuUS struggle to release articles that aren’t two sentence reposts about something they found on youtube or reddit (or in bashcraft’s case, the latest thing he’s jerking off to) but this is just as bad if not worse because it’s pretending to be gaming related.

    Minor violent reaction to minor annoyance. How many situations in life can that be applied to? What’s next? A few paragraphs on how happy you get finishing a level in a game as opposed to getting a Uni assignment done early or cooking a good meal? This is a huge stretch to be gaming relevant. And you guys responding to the proposed question aren’t helping matters.

    I know it’s listed as “Rant”. But are we really going to get involved in promoting KotakuUS’s attempts at taking a liveblogger approach to a NEWS site so they can appear to be working when not reposting the work of others? Editorial/opinion pieces on proper gaming matters are one thing but this kind of crap getting the responses it did? It’s sad. Really sad.

    In the last two years, KotakuAU’s quality has dropped dramatically. I don’t mean the KotakuAU staff pieces (those are as great as they ever were by being well written and actually gaming related). I mean the quality has dropped because of those who comment and defend or aid KotakuUS tripe, and the KotakuUS stuff that gets reposted. It’s increasing. Horribly so.

    What was once the last haven for real and interesting gaming news and information has transformed into a Seth Brundle amalgamation of nonsense; it’s Reddit meets 9gag meets youtube with only a sprinkle of anything relevant or original. At this rate, KotakuAU and the quality works of ACTUAL games journalists will be lost or so buried amidst the rubble that they might as well not be posted in the first place. IGN 2.0 here we come.

    Inb4 rage hate comments about me.

    • There are worse articles for you to get angry at. This is fine, throwing a controller in videogames, or treating it violently, is a thing people do.

      Although it does go without saying that, unless you are in a controller throwing competition or you need to throw the controller for the greater good(at a murderer), control your emotions and stop getting mad at videogames.

      • There are worse articles, yes but either way, it all contributes to turning KotakuAU (the last site for actual games journalism) into crap and again, the amount of people who seem okay with that is astonishing.

        • Either way, it seems pointless trying to rally people against it happening. The comments section shows two groups are all that really remain. The apathetic are one. The other lot I’ve dubbed the Jersey Shore brigade; the kind who suck down anything given to them. Basically, the post-Bad Boys Michael Bay fan brigade. If it’s bright and shiny (or has tits) it’s acceptable. God forbid they have thousands of sites to cater to their needs. They feel it to be their duty to defend such shit appearing here instead.

          IGN 2.0 is inevitable.

          • Chazz, where’s your daily blog with fresh gaming info / hard hitting game industry news?

          • So you’re an AFL player? You do everything that’s required to be a top notch military consultant for shows? You scan sprint better than Usain Bolt whilst writing scripts that put Tarantino to shame???

            Last I checked one does not need to be a marksman to know when someone misses the target. Your simple and shallow response is EXACTLY what is plaguing KotakuAU.

            So this goes out to you “Charlie”. Thanks for bringing the Jersey Shore mentality to the last bastion of real gaming news. You and The Situation can chest bump about it before you go screw some beehive haired std infested slag. Keep up the great work.

          • You’re an angry man. I’m guessing you must have thrown a controller or two in your time? :p

          • You don’t need to be a marksman to know when a target is missed, but you DO need to be one if you’re gonna berate the shooter for missing, or you come off as a massive arsehole.

            Clearly you should ask for a refund of all money you spent on this article. What’s that? Free website? Oh, then quit whining.

          • You don’t need to be a marksman to know when a target is missed, but you DO need to be one if you’re gonna berate the shooter for missing, or you come off as a massive arsehole.

            Clearly you should ask for a refund of all money you spent on this article. What’s that? Free website? Oh, then quit whining.

      • What can I say McGarnical? I’m a pain in the arse and I troll…far too often for anyone’s good. I admit that. But despite my antics, KotakuAU has been a wonderful place to be but unfortunately it’s been heading downhill for a long time and no one, not even you can deny that because it’d be a bold-faced lie.

        The balance between AU awesome and US tripe has changed drastically in favour of the US tripe. No two ways about it. People like yourself are cool, I will always remember your awesome responses and the times even I, as a pain in the arse, have shared with you folk but the apathy towards this shift has made me sad. Either way until I get permabanned via IP or some such I can’t help but point out the downward spiral KotakuAU is on, it’s the only worthwhile site on the Allure spectrum since the rest are head first in payed for articles or pure pointlessness.

        • I’m just surprised you chose this one to point out. Didn’t Mark have a similar story the other day? I think rage and gaming is a legitimate topic for discussion here. It’s not like one of those stories about murder and mayhem and a mention of a game. Mark has said he is limiting the posting of those here.

          Anyways, do you have to read every article? For example I don’t read the cosplay articles because that doesn’t interest me.

        • You sir are the sole Wanker plaguing kotaku.. I feel this is relevant to games, I even linked it to my housemate cause he’s a ‘chucker

        • You sir are the sole Wanker plaguing kotaku… I feel this article is relevant, evel linked it to my housemate for laughs as he is a ‘chucker’. If you don’t like an article skip it or better yet just don’t comment on it.. But it seems you are in-between seasons of jersey shore and have nothing to do but feed us with your dribble. Save that for your mum when she gets home from work.

  • It’s your controller, smash it if you want to. Who are you to say if it is “OK” or not to do so? FFS why are people these days obsessed with asking if every little thing is “OK” to do or not?

  • You’ve got to think about it in a broader context. There are people who absolutely lose their shi*t when playing golf- think snapping clubs and etc – when they’re having an off day. Personally, a few times I came of the cricket ground after getting a duck and threw my bat and helmet down as hard as I could in disgust. We get frustrated and we try to find a way to quickly release it – and then regret doing so immediately after. I’ve thrown down the odd controller but never broken one, but I’ve since learned to just step a step back, gather myself, and try again (just turn it off altogether).

    So is it OK? Well within reason it’s not the worst thing. In front of others you’ll look childish, if you’re damaging things you’re being reckless. We probably shouldn’t do it, but as we grow up we learn for ourselves how to deal with frustration – and games certainly know how to throw them at you when you’re young.

    • They can’t think that broad. That would mean they’d have to drop this article and actually try to put out some work that was actually relevant. We can’t have that. The KotakuUS staff can’t actually be expected to do the jobs they’re paid to do. That’s just silly!

    • I should note my controller throwing is always onto a nice soft couch. and Chazz, the artictle is about opening up conversation. we get it, you don’t like KotakuUS.

  • When I was 16, I kicked a hole in the wall when I lost a race on the last turn in Burnout 2. Bloody Airport 51, last race of the tournament and It was my fifth attempt (you had to redo the other 3 races to try again) and I crashed on the last bend when a car ran into me.

    Nothing has happened since though, but I do sometimes scream at the TV like those really far apart checkpoints in Jak 2 HD.

  • I used to be rather hostile towards my controller at times. I’ve learnt the best way to deal with it (and cheapest!) is to simply turn it off and go for a walk. Not just for games, but for any sort of frustrating or anger-generating issue- at work, with family, etc… just drop it completely and go for a walk.

  • Fortunately, the only controller I ever tried to throw out of frustration was my Wii remote (failed Super Monkey Ball a few too many times). It bounced onto my sofa and the strap caused it to jerk back and hit me in the face. I got what I deserved.

  • Never thrown or broken a controller. I have however snapped a keyboard over my knee when having computer troubles.

    Computer would reset after 20-30mins into a game. Later discovered that the little fan on the Northbridge had failed.

    Also it hurt, a lot.

  • I toss my controllers in frustration/disgust when a game pisses me off, but this is usually done dismissively after I have rage quit and turned off the console.

    I have smashed controllers in the past. It was not the right thing to do.

  • Back in the day when I was a child, 8 or 9 I think, I slammed my fist down onto my PSone, breaking the console and game. I also threw numerous N64 controllers as I was a bit spoilt and had both consoles.

    A few PS3 and 360 controllers were broken a few years ago, but now I’m older and have anger issues under control. This is now my thinking process….Games are supposed to be fun, if I get angry to the point where I want to yell and throw something, I just turn it off and do something else. If the game ceases to be fun there’s no point in playing it.

    Controllers are expensive and it’s not worth it. That being said, I had countless rage quits when playing through Dark Souls. I just say FUCK THIS and turn off the console.

  • I remember the day after Super Mario 64 came out, I was up to Rainbow Ride and was offended by how poor the reaction time from my N64 controller that I ripped the analogue stick out of it’s place. Like a real-life Cartman I yelled to Mum and we ran up to Toys R Us that afternoon claiming they sold us a broken N64. I made Mum buy me another controller then also. I didn’t break another N64 controller but since then I’ve snapped PS3 controllers open and ripped analogue sticks out of 360 controllers. Once you have money and it’s your own fault for breaking them, you really don’t care, I go buy another one and laugh.

  • New ssx just got snapped after 5 or so hours, could have beeb a good game if you didn’t fall to your death for not playing the level 50 times to memorize the track

  • Never okay to throw a controller.
    That said, I don’t discourage it. Where else are we going to get entertaining youtube videos of the world’s morons?

  • I’ve never thrown a controller, but have certainly come close. Game culprits that come to mind, Dark souls (S+O boss), God of war 2 (that f#^king gauntlet downhill section) and Trials Evolution is getting mighty close at the moment!

  • Yup and now they go and release another version of trials so I can get raging again… My house mate throws controls around the house playing FIFA it’s bloody hilarious! Just annoying when we got people around and have to try sort out the broken ones from the good controllers haha. If you own it go hard and rage I say. Just don’t go whining when you have to go spend more money on another controller. Simple.

  • I personally would never throw my controller or system because I worked my ass off to earn the money to buy these things. I believe in general the people who throw and break their controllers didn’t have to work very hard to get them (ie. parent’s bought it for them)

  • It is strange to me when people make an argument for the sedate, well-mannered behavior that makes our societies so dull. Some people throw controllers, and I’d rather they throw them than throw punches.

  • I was playing Super Smash on the Wii with a friend of around equal skill level, anyway I was Squirtle, he was Bowser and I repeatedly just kept juggling him in the air for all 3 of his lives. He smashed the Gamecube controller in to the glass table then repeatedly smashed the broken table with his fist. It was under a sheet so no one was cut, the table was destroyed though. This was about 3 months ago, he’s 21.

  • End of Halo 2 on Legendary; worked for days fighting those goddamn Brutes then bam! “There’s a cliffhanger!”

    I threw it out of second story window and had to retrieve it from a tree a couple of hours later.
    Also, slamming your head into a keyboard in frustration is acceptable. I’ve had keyboard imprints in my face enough times for that.

  • my two cents:

    I think it’s ABSOLUTELY OK to throw a controller. I have smashed a few in my time (i think 3 at most) and it felt damn good. The problem is they are just the perfect weight and shape and are full of delicate little pieces that break and shatter in such a satisfying way when you throw them at the ground after getting your ass handed to you by shin akuma in capcom vs snk 2 right when you are just about to win. It’s my direct link with the game, i’m not about to take the disc out and fling it out a window, i just want something in the heat of the moment i can use as a scapegoat for my furious anger. It’s just a way I let out my frustrations, i never throw it at anyone else, my girlfriend, my cat, i just let that controller know that I’m the boss around here, even if i can’t beat god rugal on the 52nd try. I chuck little tantrums every now and then, and then i laugh about it 5 seconds later, that’s how i deal with my frustration. It isn’t limited to video games though, when I stub my toe or cut my finger chopping veges I get the shits, maybe kick a cupboard (and then stub my toe, like a dumbass) then I chuckle to myself about getting so worked up and get on with my life.

    I DON’T think it’s ok to throw someone else’s controller, i’m fine with breaking my own stuff, I know i can just go buy another controller, but wrecking up someone else’s property is just wrong.

  • People who throw controllers, or anything really, are called ’12 year olds’. If you are over 12 and behave like this then I’d be embarrassed to share a building with you and will likely remedy that situation post-haste.

  • I’ve had many incidents with controller throwing over the past years, starting from the days of Super Mario Kart and leading up as late as Halo 3. I couldn’t tell you the PS1/2 controllers I’ve gone through those were easy targets, though I must say my original X-Box controller was quite the trooper, standing through several blows to the walls and television and even once directed at my own dog… On a lighter note, the TV made it out without brain damage.

  • Playing head to head seasons on fifa 12 I have launched my controller at my tv and cracking and I also just broke a controller by jamming it in the door and slamming

    Also in fifa (fifa really fuckin grinds my gears at times) I have broke another one of my controller, bruised my cheek bone and legs by punching them repeatedly and snapped a door with my ferocious headbutt

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