How To Deal With Stress While Playing A Game
For the most part I believe that games are capable of reducing our stress, but every so often we get stuck on a challenge that has the opposite affect on us. A game shouldn’t be ruined by stress and I’ve found a number of different ways for dealing with it.
- Change the difficulty setting – If we’re feeling stressed it could be a sign that the difficulty setting is too high for our current expertise. A game feels best when it’s at the right level, not so easy that it gets boring but not so hard that it’s stressful. Adjust the difficulty to work for you (see ‘Enjoy The Experience The Way You Want To.‘) If the game doesn’t allow you to do that then consider going back to an easier area to improve.
- Look for other things to do – Sometimes a game is too hard because we’re not yet meant to be there. Consider if you have done everything you could have before this point and head back to complete them first.
- Remember that games are made to be completed – Most developers want you to be able to complete their games. They’ve made lots of wonderful content after that part you’re stuck on and want you to see it. I trust a lot of developers to have made the game fair and possible to complete in some way.
- Remind yourself of previous achievements – Can you remember a time when you felt like you were never going to make it through a game just to prove yourself wrong? If you’ve made it through a tough part before you can do it again.
- Get Stronger – If you’re playing a game in which the character can be made stronger than you can always head back to grind a few levels first as another way to adjust the difficulty for yourself. If not then think of yourself as improving. Make sure you fully understand how to play the game and practice. During each attempt you’ll be moving a little bit closer towards succeeding.
- Put it into perspective – If a game carries a harsh death penalty, like having to repeat a section over, I treat this as a further opportunity to practice and get better. I also remind myself that if I could get so far in the first place I can probably do it again. It’s worth putting a loss into perspective – is it really so bad? My worse moment was in Tibia, where dying can destroy hours of experience. If we keep playing we eventually earn that back and then some, at which point what we lost feels like a small drop in the ocean compared to what we currently have. These types of wounds heal with time.
- Consider all options – Some games allow for multiple strategies to get through something. So long as I haven’t yet tried everything there is still hope that I’ll find something that’ll work. It might also be the case that I haven’t set my character up correctly for what works for me. If all else fails look up tips for how others have gotten through.
- Too much stress will make it harder – While a little bit of stress can improve our performance, too much can result in clumsy mistakes. I’ve had gaming sessions where I’ve gotten worse on each attempt as a result of stress and fatigue. It’s worth remembering that staying calm will help and we can achieve this in a number of ways, like taking deep breaths for example. It might also be a sign that we’re ready to take a break and will do much better next time.
- Make jokes – I get through a lot of gaming experiences by making jokes and taunting my foes. It can also be a release to yell at the screen and far better than taking it out on your gaming equipment.
- Learn to laugh at yourself – Some of my most memorable gaming moments are the times when it went wrong. I’ve made my fair share of silly mistakes that resulted in heavy losses (like rolling off a cliff in Dark Souls), but I can turn it into a funny story and laugh it off. I think a lot of stress caused by competitive gaming can come from bruised egos, but try not to take it personally.
- Pause for a moment – Pause the game and give yourself a moment to breathe and calm down. I use loading screens as a way to regain my composure too.
- Play with others – I sometimes find that playing with another in the room can help. For starters they can offer advice and moral support. I can also share my woes or talk to them, taking some of the focus away from what’s happening in the game. I guess I also prefer to keep my cool when I’m around others. Oddly enough though, whenever I try to show another person what I’m trying to overcome I seem to succeed at it, making it seem as if there wasn’t a problem afterall.
- Without the challenge it wouldn’t be fun – Some games are more fun without the difficulty, but others are the exact opposite. For example, in Don’t Starve you can modify the world to generate with more resources, but it’s far less interesting to play it that way. A part of the enjoyment of that game is learning how to do it well. Unfortunately the stress of managing dropping hunger and sanity levels is just something we have to deal with, but it’s worth the satisfaction once we’ve mastered it. Remind yourself how worthwhile it’ll feel to achieve success against much lower odds. Besides, we don’t want to complete the game too quickly because then we’ll have nothing left to play.
- Punch the air or jump around – Sometimes I get a build up of adrenaline while playing and it has nowhere to go. Getting up from your seat to move around a little can be a release – or sometimes I actually dance in front of my computer.
- Perseverance is a good thing to have – Life is tough and throws curveballs at all of us from time to time. We can either choose to give up or fight back. Like Rocky (Sylvester Stallone) says, “it ain’t about how hard you hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. It’s how much you can take, and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done.” At the card game shop they told me that if all we ever do is play with the same friends we can never truly tell how good we are. They recommended attending the tournaments, but warned us that we’d probably fail really badly, but that it would be the only way to get better. We can be proud of ourselves not for succeeding instantly at everything, but for giving things a go, trying out best and sticking it through until achieving mastery. You can learn more from failure anyway.