by Taylor Miller
In high school, I had $150 worth of broken Xbox controllers. It’s absurd to me now that I could react foolishly enough to throw my controller because I didn’t shoot a bad guy or land a skateboard trick. One of my friends in college had a nasty habit of slamming his fist into his thigh as hard as he could when he didn’t meet his video game expectations. Consequently, long game sessions always resulted in a limp for a day or two. Why does frustration at an albeit fun, but inconsequential hobby, result in such aggressive behavior? Is the “Gamer Rage” stereotype justified?
My friend’s aggressive reflex check aside, destroying controllers was a common enough practice for them to make Nerf controllers for the original Xbox. Think about that, a product line meant to make sports activities safer for children is utilized because teenagers are furious when they get fragged in Halo. This activity isn’t reserved to just consoles, of course. There are numerous YouTube videos of people freaking out at PC games. There was even a recent tournament for a PC game where they held a ‘rage-quit’ competition for fans to show just how destructive they could be. Resulting in smashing hundreds, if not thousands of dollars worth of computer parts in the process. The concept of adolescent/adult tantrums being a point of pride bewilders me. I hate having that vitriolic a reaction to something that will never affect my real life in any lasting way, I’ll never be proud to yell “Fuck that guy!” at my friends.
These days, I’ve given up physically reacting to video game frustration. Instead, I limit myself to loud cursing, to the displeasure of whatever friends are in a voice chat party with me. Did maturity change me? I doubt it. I believe the culprits are having to fund my hobby myself as an adult and the soaring cost of accessories. Microsoft released a special ‘pro’ controller for the Xbox One in 2015 that priced a staggering $150 dollars at launch, same as the total price of my three ruined controllers from high school. I don’t take myself seriously enough to own one of these, but I can promise no amount of gamer rage could convince me to throw half a paycheck on the floor in anger.
So is it cathartic to gamer rage, like how cursing helps your body feel better after stubbing your toe on a particularly vicious coffee table? Considering rage, stress, and high blood pressure are frequent bedfellows, I highly doubt it. However, there are definitely people out there trashing those pricey pro controllers despite the massive money sunk into the product, and there are plenty of gamers older than me that still rage with the best of the teenage rabble. All I know is I still can’t land that DAMNED skateboard trick.