I very rarely get angry in everyday life. Well to be more exact I very rarely do anything about getting angry in everyday life. I have always been very conscious of hurting other people (physically or otherwise) so when I do get angry I keep it to myself, don’t act on it and otherwise just get on with stuff. I discovered some time ago that this is certainly not true of my temper in or at video games; indeed it appears that quite the reverse is the case!
The very first instance I can remember of game related rage was a result of ‘Shin Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Saga’. The game itself is fantastic; along with much of the rest of the titles bearing ‘Shin Megami Tensei’ but there was a breaking point I reached in this particular one. I’d been grinding for a while and was on the way back to save my progress as you do. In sight of the save point I encounter a random battle which goes less than well. It turns out that there is an enemy in this particular area that when it back attacks you and uses a certain combination of moves then you are helpless to watch as your characters slowly lose all their health due to being stunned over and over again. I didn’t get to make one attack; I lost a lot of experience because of the game over and at this point hurled the PS2 controller with all my strength at the nearest wall. This was a costly action of course as I had to then buy a new controller but I was totally overtaken by rage.
In recent memory nothing has incensed me more than StarCraft 2 multiplayer matches that I’ve lost. Fair enough if I deserved to lose, but if I should have won (or feel I should have won) then all hell breaks loose. Fist slams on desk, strings of intelligible swearing pour from my lips as I attempt to find some combination that rightly sums up my opinions of either my opponent or myself. I remember when I first started playing and thought to myself ‘I’ll always be mannered and never leave a game without saying GG first’ oh how naïve of me that was. I never went so far as to openly abuse the other player but I had definitely rage quit a good number of games before I stopped playing about a year ago (partly due to a string of such incidents but primarily because I had stuff to deal with I wasn’t doing).
Up to this point I agree that this all seems pretty negative and in support of the media’s ‘video games make people violent’ bullshit but hear me out. For those of you out there similarly adverse to conflict as myself these interactions can offer a great way of releasing everything held in from the everyday frustrations you otherwise bottle up and put away. Yes there are occasionally some consequences, such as a new controller perhaps, but they are only ever to you. This is hugely appealing to me since it gives me a medium to have violent outbursts that don’t hurt anybody and free me up of pent up stress and anger or whatever else.
That games can cause such reactions in me just helps to cement in my mind just how powerful a force they can be. It’s not just anger of course that they tap into. I have never cried and almost never been even remotely sad at a TV show or movie, Aerith’s death in Final Fantasy VII will cause sadness every time I see it. The point I’m rambling somewhat towards is that games can generate emotional responses beyond what a lot of people expect. So yes games can make you angry but that is no reason to damn them or regard them as dangerous or damaging. In fact what they should be is praised for along with anger they can also produce happiness, sadness and any other emotions you care to mention as well if not better than any other entertainment form. Everyone needs an escape or a release occasionally and I can think of no better way of acquiring either.