A horrible phenomenon I’m sure almost anybody that has spent too much time on one game has experienced is game rage. You know the sensation: yelling obscenities, stopping the game to physically release you anger, maybe even damaging your mouse or controller in a spurious act of fury. It shames me to say that this has plagued me throughout my entire lifetime of playing video games.
There is a lesson I learned from my more “metaphysical” days in the past that has proven to be invaluable in combating game rage. By “metaphysical days,” I mean my time spent with psychedelics. No need beating around the bush. You don’t seem like a rube, and I’m sure you can handle some knowledge from the gonzo side of life. Psychedelics have been a source of immense joy for me when utilized in the proper setting, and more importantly, with the right mindset. The very same can be said about video games.
Where you play may not seem too important, but try to imagine playing the narrative and dialogue heavy Metal Gear Solid games around a loud bunch of drunks or trying any of the Mario Party games by yourself in a dark, empty house. Sure, games can still turn out to be blast under averse environmental conditions, but their themes and styles would not be inhibited when played in a more appropriate settings.
Setting is just as important when it comes to psychedelics, though the important parallel condition between the two subjects is the mindset–at least when it comes to dealing with game rage. From what I can gather from my own experiences, this rage stems from an expectation placed on your performance, not the game itself. This idea of how the game is going to play out can either lift your spirits (should it prove true) or possibly leave you spitting bile if things don’t pan out the way you expected. Mere disappointment can come from a video game as a whole not turning out the way you imagined; rage, though, is a strong passion that more likely comes from a game that is ordinarily and habitually enjoyed rather than from a game that never met your approval.
This rigid expectation has a similar effect in the wavy world of psychedelics. Sure, if everything comes together as you planned, it can be a great experience. However, there is a duplicitous edge; if something goes awry, it can cause the sort of existential nightmare commonly known as a bad trip. The bright and shiny world you had were sensing and all the groovy feelings that come with it can come crashing down around you, leaving your evening in shambles, at the very least. All that can be a result of expecting an awesome experience rather than just sitting back to see where it takes you.
This type of expectation is what needs to be ignored in order to avoid the dreaded game rage. The late, great Hunter S. Thompson once said, “Buy the ticket. Take the ride.” This could be applied to many different subjects. I use it as a mantra for both video games and psychedelics, especially when things start to get a little weird.
Both of these pastimes are supposed to be enjoyable. If either fails to reach that point, some introspection is needed. When I take time to reflect on my game rage, I find that I’m having a bad time because my ride isn’t going where I wanted it to, not because of the quality of the actual ride itself.
Battlefield and Starcraft are the two games I currently spend the majority of my gaming time with. In my opinion, both require more than just a casual level of commitment to get past the learning curve and enjoy. The intricacies and nuances of these games aren’t what drew me in, though; in both cases, it was the more spectacular elements that appeal to my more childish nature of sensory pleasure rather than intellect. It was that very nature that started me on this ride called video games.
These are also games that leave me prone to my most acrid fits of rage. They happen in Battlefield when I can’t seem to put enough bullets in the enemy to kill them, and they happen in Starcraft when my opponent somehow out maneuvers my well-rehearsed tactics.
What I do to extinguish this rage is to remember what Hunter S. Thompson said and take the ride. After all, I paid for it. I remember how awesome it is to just witness the eerily realistic depictions of modern Middle-Eastern battlefields, with dogfights overhead and infantry firefights all around. I force myself to pause in the middle of an impending online defeat to enjoy the sight of hundreds of surly, cigar smoking marines futilely attempt to fight back waves of grimy space bugs. When you feel a about of game rage, stop to enjoy whatever it is about the game your love so much that it could provoke you to get so angry. Remember why you played video games in the first place. Whatever it is you enjoy so passionately is a beautiful ride no matter the outcome.
Editor’s Note: The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of D Pad D Bags.