Have You Ever Broken A Controller In Anger? I Have.

It's OK to get frustrated by a video game. They're often designed to do just that. But there's a line you cross once you get past frustration, and once you get to the other side, you're in angytown. That's usually not OK. It's a sign you should maybe put the controller down, take a step outside and take a deep breath.

I don't get angry at video games anymore. A combination of good checkpointing, "casual" difficulty settings and a wiser, older head on my shoulders has seen to that. But sometimes, just sometimes, I remember the time I let a video game get the better of me. And it cost a controller its life.

Let's go back to 1993. I was in eighth grade, 13 years old. And every second I did not spend sleeping, eating or being at school, I was slumped over my PC playing Lucasarts' classic space combat game X-Wing.

It's absurd looking back on it, but I probably played that game 3-5 hours a day, every day, for almost a year. I loved Star Wars (remember, this is pre-new trilogy), I loved PC games, and most of all I loved this game because it was a damn fine video game.

It had an amazing core mechanic (juggling your ship's power usage between shields and weapons), snappy controls and a sense of atmosphere and place within the Star Wars universe that even more canonical works can't match.

It was not, however, perfect. As easy as it is to get all misty-eyed about the classics, let's not forget that X-Wing was, at time, absolutely brutal. There were no saves, no checkpoints, no abundance of friendly pop-up messages or finely-tuned acts of scripting. The game killed you easily and frequently, sometimes within minutes of beginning a mission, other times over half an hour into one. After which you'd just have to go back, clench your teeth and do it all again.

One such mission - I remember it being "Mission 18", but can't remember which campaign - involved me and a wingman trying to bring down a Nebulon B Frigate. In a pair of A-Wings. A-Wing fighters have their strengths, but those strengths are speed and manoeuvrability against other fighters. Their weak armament and, more importantly, weak armour made them entirely unsuited to taking on heavily-armed capital ships.

But this mission made you do it anyway, so hey, I had to do it. Or try and do it. No matter what approach I took, no matter how deftly I positioned my ship, there'd always be something that would go wrong, something that would kill me and send me right back to the beginning. After over a week of trying to beat this one mission, this one frustrating, seemingly impossible mission, I was nearing the end of my tether.

Then, one night, my tether ran out.

After over 20 minutes of ducking, weaving and scrambling to stay alive, I died. Again. And that was it. Before I knew it my muscles had tensed up, I grunted something angry between my teeth and snap. I looked down and saw I had literally smashed my joystick into three pieces. The handle was split right up the middle, and the base had cracked open as well.

(Note: hardly a feat of superhuman strength, it was a cheap $US20 thing).

My parents saw what had happened and that was it. No X-Wing for a week, no PC for a week, which at the time infuriated me even more, but as a parent now I see was the right (and only) move available for a kid about to go nuclear.

A week later, I returned, having spent my savings on a good Thrustmaster stick. And what do you know, as is often the case, the very next time I attempted the mission, I breezed right through it. Over the rest of X-Wing, and then its sequel Tie Fighter, and then its sequel X-Wing Alliance, I'd never get stuck in such a way again.

Nor, more importantly, would I ever get so damn worked up about a video game again. Maybe it was the age - 13 is awkward - maybe it was the cruel design, maybe it was just a "stars aligning" combination of the two, but aside from the odd toss-the-controller-on-the-next-cushion moment in FIFA (come on, the AI cheats sometimes!), once I'd hit rock bottom the only way was up. These days, me and games are like a zen garden.

All it took was a week away and the death of an innocent controller.


    You just took a shit over my childhood.

    Ever wonder where Ace came from in acex1138?....

    I loved that game. I thought the Nebulon B Frigate had a blind spot if you sat right behind it's engines. It couldnt shoot you at all if i remember correctly. I broke a 360 controller playing halo 3 multiplayer. Threw it at the couch and missed. Snapped off both thumbsticks. Very dumb.

      Lol I forgot about that, in X-Wing Alliance the devs fixed that by placing a laser turret on top of the engines but it was small and easy to kill so you'd be able to create the blind spot again

        Also later games had engine wash I think?

    X-Wing was brutally difficult. I remember raging hard over the Redemption level. Also clearing mine fields. Using a keyboard and mouse because I didn't have a joystick. :(

      I took off the little rubber nub that was my mouse on my laptop and put a pen over it - used that as a joystick - was awesome except when it fell off.

      Joystick was where it was at for all the flight sims of that era... up until Descent: Freespace. That puppy was the first flight sim I found to use a mouse+keyboard combo and do it well.

    Don't think I have ever broken a controller, I may have inflicted some superficial damage to a SNES controller once during my teenage years but I'm pretty sure that was about it.

    I punched my last laptop and shattered its screen, but that wasn't gaming related. Was cool, though.

    The only time I ever broke a controller is when I was playing my NES as a kid and spilt orange juice on a honeybird turbo controller, needless to say the second port somehow suffered the same fate in doing so.
    Boooy did I get it that day ==;

      Ha I had one of those turbo controllers for my sega msii ! long live sonic pinball!

    It's a shame there are no longer any developers capable of making such a great space combat sim or really any who want to do so...

    i once smashed open an xbox controller by throwing it on the ground when someone returned a punk kick for a 99 yard touch down in madden 10

    I once lost it while plaing Gran Turismo 3. Id invested in a bad car and was struggling to pick up the necessary 1st place in a race. After about the 20th failed attempt I jumped up, threw the controller to the ground - only to have it bounce back up and hit me square in the mouth.

    rofl you never played the Tie fighter addons then, advanced missles were like purely designed to cause you to die. Fun times!

    I have thrown controllers but never broken any, I normally aim for a chair or something to cushion the blow. I don't think I'll take the risk with the WiiU gamepad though!

    The old days of throwing the controller across the room and flicking the console power off before storming out are gone, now you have to shut down your console from the menus which kind of takes the passion out of it.

    Why is this a dead theme??? Wing commander, xwing, star lancer and freespace are all awesome. Bring it back. Now

    Broke the left trigger on a Dualshock 3 trying to complete challenges in Burnout Paradise.
    I've done them all now (BTW, I'm late 30's)

    One ps3 controller over dark souls one xbox 360 controller over mortal kombat and god knows how many ps2 controllers

    Never thrown or broken anything gaming-related. Sacrilege. I do, however, have a mate who bit a Master System controller in a fit of rage.

      My NES controllers had bite marks all over them thanks to my brother, and the SNES controllers had their soft rubbery start and select buttons mutilated...along with more teeth marks.

        Was he an angry child, or just teething ? ;-P

    Ah yes, X-Wing. I remember when I finally learnt how to enable expanded memory and got voice for the first time ever! It was amazing!

    Protip: don't have a tablet device beside you on the couch when playing a frustrating video game. Those downward slams onto the couch can really do some damage.

    Broke the square, or more accurately 'pounded into oblivion' playing the metal slug collection on PSP, turns out buttons these days aren't built to withstand the sustained mashing of a classic sidecrolling shooter. Oh and I threw my N64. the whole damned thing, out of my 1st floor window when I was about 10, can't even remeber what it was I was playing at the time, but I was PISSED.

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