Getting Upset At Video Games Is Probably Terrible For Your Health

Getting Upset At Video Games Is Probably Terrible For Your Health

I tend to get angry at little things in video games. A lot. Sometimes really, really, really angry. I'm starting to think I should stop. Why? A recent study explained just how bad for us small yet frequent day-to-day stresses really are. The short version? Life-threatening.

I know I'm not the only one (shit, I roomed with a guy in college who was waaaaay worse about it than me), so this is definitely worth keeping in mind. In short, according to a study from journal Experimental Gerontology, everyday hassles that get us especially bent out of shape add up to be just as bad as truly monumental events like divorce or job loss. Evidence suggests they lead to a much higher mortality risk as you age.

Psychologist Jeremy Dean broke down the study on Psy Blog:

"Just under half of [the 1,293 older men] followed went on to die during the period of the study, but their chances of dying depended on the hassles and stressful life events they'd experienced."

"Only 29% of those who'd experienced few everyday hassles had died, while that proportion jumped to 64% for those who'd experienced high levels of everyday hassles."

"For major, stressful life events, the figures were around one-third dying for those who'd experienced few events, increasing to around 50% for those who'd experienced a high number of stressful events."

For me, this means things like missing my exit on the highway, misplacing my keys when I really need to get out the door, getting irrationally angry at comments on the Internet, and — of course — frustrating, tedious, or repetitive moments in video games. Trial-and-error especially drives me nuts on just, like, a primal level. Sometimes I emit guttural yells, blood-curdling cries, things embedded in my genes to frighten off wolves at, you know, games.

On one hand, it's like, ok, this is silly. There are far worse, more violently upsetting things in this world than annoying moments in video games. I should be grateful that I live in a place where I have the privilege of even considering this type of thing a concern. But on the other hand, in those moments, it's hard not to see red. It's just upsetting, you know? Why did they make the game that way? Why did they waste my time? Why did I fuck that part up? Ugh, did I really die again? What's wrong with me?

At the end of the day, though, it's not a matter of how many stressful events — be they in games or elsewhere — we experience. It's how we react to them that ultimately does or does not take a toll on us, physical or otherwise. It's not always possible to completely mitigate the effects of something going horribly/stupidly wrong, but for the smaller things we can pause for a moment and try to take it all in stride. The more you do that, the less stress you'll have simmering away, threatening to blow your lid clean off.

If I sound like I'm lecturing, believe me: I need to hear this stuff just as much as anybody. I get irrationally upset at a lot of things. And anyway, games — at least, the ones that aren't purposefully created to evoke powerful, not necessarily positive feelings — are fun. We play them to unwind, not add even more stress to our teetering anxiety plate stacks.

So try not to get caught up in the little irritants (even if redoing this entire Fire Emblem battle because I lost a character is TOTAL BULLSHIT RIGHT NOW) when the game you're playing is largely pretty great. It's like snagging a hangnail on your sleeve while reaching for a slice of pie. Yeah, it stings for a second, but pie!

Games and life are really great. Be happy and stuff.

Thanks, Science of Us.


    Nowadays I don't get as angry and upset as hard as I did when I was a kid. I think the turning point for me was when I was over Donkey Kong 64, there was a part where you had to pass like a hard version of classic Donkey Kong for some reason, which I couldnt do, up to the point where I *literally* passed out from the rage.

      Some people have anger problems, but I also think a great deal is maturity and real-life responsibilities. Kids and Man-Children don't have real shit to deal with, so they invest more emotionally into the outcome of a video game.

      I, have anger problems, so I will occasionally rage if I'm like 5-11 in Battlefield haha

        I don't rage in Battlefield for doing poorly but when the game is being crap.

        If someone is camping a lift with C4 that is lame but not infuriating. Dying because I got stuck on the umpteenth tiny invisible rock or because the leaping animation wont go off properly is infuriating.

        Why do they put so much ground clutter in a game where the engine has a seizure when you walk over it?

      I don't mean to poke fun, but the idea of someone passing out from rage just cracks me up :-)

    It's also terrible for the controller. They don't like to be thrown at walls.

      its also worse when you have a master system controller in your hand, throw it at the TV cause you died on stage 4 in double dragon, and the controller comes flying back at you and leaves an egg on your forehead.

      True story.

      I knew a guy whose rage problems were so bad he actually had a wardrobe full of replacement keyboards and mice.

    Getting angry at games is the only exercise many of us get to partake in, ffs.
    Psychologists, pfffft.

    Welp time to stop getting 100% sync in Assassins Creed games.

    Time to stop playing Mario Kart altogether!

      I hated it when they introduced challanges to assassins creed. My friends kept telling me I didn't have to do them, but I felt like I had to make sure everything was 100%. It wad frustrating. Then I just gave up and now have way less interest in assassin's creed games.

        I really like the challenges, because otherwise I think the missions are just too easy. It'll be interesting to see how the adaptive missions in Unity pan out.

    Haha, of course it is. Same goes for getting mad at sport or stupid characters in goddamn television shows (goddammit, Don Draper, get your act together, you idiot.)

      I love the show, one minute he's the perfect Father tucking his kids in and making breakfast in bed for his wife.

      Nek minit
      In the office with his boss after hours who's trying to solicit a threesome with identical twins, get your act together, Don.

        good god, i had a horrifying dyslexia moment there where i misread the "t" in tucking.

      Thats a solid point. This article worried me when I first thought about it, but if I cut out games, I'll just vent elsewhere. (damn you, Rick! just go to the coast and steal a boat... im sure there are less walkers in aruba)

    I've found that I don't get angry at games when I'm streaming, I just laugh.

    When I was a kid though I used to bite the controller when I got angry.

    I stopped playing Quake III, and competitive multiplayer in general, because I would get waaay too mad about it. Now I just play easy single player things like Super Meat Boy, Dark Souls and Spelunky.

    god you should hear me when im playing competitive multiplayer. everyone is a &^%$ i get so mad haha...

      FIFA? I've raged hard at that game more times then I care to remember, it's been about 2 years since I've been genuinely enraged at a game though lol

        lol nah i dont play videogames to play sports :) think more wow battlegrounds haha

    UPDATE: "Getting Upset ... Is Probably Terrible For Your Health".

    I threw a coffee mug through a cupboard once after a bad couple of matches of street fighter. That's about when I knew I had a problem.

    But going deeper, I realised that my life was a bit sub-par in other ways. When I started working on the other things, my frustration and anger dissipated. Nowadays, unless I'm tired or having a bad day, I don't get anywhere near as ticked off.

    Games arn't the problem it's the people who walk in front of the tv!

    I've stomped a few controllers in my time, but i think the last time i really lost it was playing Lego Star Wars

    So no more taking the 'kill 2 at once with a fusion rifle 20 times' bounty in Destiny, then... got it.
    Or PVP. Like... ever.

    My 6 year old daughter was raging at Johann Sebastien Joust because she thought the Move controller was too sensitive to being knocked off balance. Lol, she just needs to get good. She did convince my 4 year old daughter to gang up on me though, which almost gave them a fighting chance, except that I'm about a metre taller than them and have the arm reach of both combined :-)

    I don't know the correct language used but being angry opens up "neural pathways" in the brain making it easier to access anger and then becoming more habitual. I read that all emotions are said to be this way. This being the case I avoid games which anger me or if I enjoy the game to much I try not to act on my anger.

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