It is not just a game. You probably heard that argument before. “Why are you angry? It’s just a game.” And it sounds reasonable.

Indeed, rational creatures would not become aggravated over what happens in some digital world. However, humans are not rational, not 100%. There are many complicated reasons why games are capable of making you angry. For example, did you know that our brains treat or digital avatars like they are part of us?

Why are you so angry?

Anyone who has played online games is familiar with the feelings of anger and frustration such games can elicit. Before we can delve into how to manage such emotions, it’s important to understand their cause.

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The brain treats tools like they are part of our bodies. Once you use a tool, even for just a few minutes, it becomes part of what psychologists call our “body schema”. In simple terms, the brain maps those tools as part of our internal representation of our own bodies. As a result, we’re able to not only use it as part of ourselves and to adjust the way we move in order to avoid collisions and accidents. If the brain didn’t do this, you might try to scratch and eye and poke your eye out because you forgot you were holding a screwdriver.

This body schema modification has different benefits. It allows us to extrapolate what touch would feel like through the tool, for example. That’s why you can reach into a tight place with a screwdriver and “feel around” there, despite your nervous system not extending down the thin piece of metal. The same happens when you are driving a car; the entire vehicle becomes an extension of your mind map. This is one of the reasons why you get so angry when someone slaps the hood of your car, despite it being just a piece of metal.

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In a video game, your avatar also becomes part of you. It is a tool that you are manipulating directly through your mouse and keyboard, and seeing your avatar be obliterated — alongside your goals and plans for that play session — can be quite aggravating. Especially if it feels like the setback wasn’t fair. This leads us into how you can begin managing those feelings of aggravation.

How to stay calm

1 – Tweak your chat options. Being killed is annoying enough without having the enemy team humiliate you for it. Considering blocking the enemy team’s chatter, and muting your team’s microphones if they either become too toxic or too aggravating.

2 – Understand the game better. Remember, failing is more aggravating when it feels unfair or unwarranted. If instead, you can understand what made you fail and know what you can do to prevent it from happening again, then it’s much easier to take failure in stride.

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3 – Manage your overall stress. Some games are so engaging that it is hard to stop playing even as they aggravate you, especially if you are playing match after match with a group of friends. If you are in that situation, considering taking a short break and doing some breathing exercises to calm yourself down to baseline. Remember, being stressed isn’t just bad for your health — it also hurts your in-game performance.

4 – Use natural calming remedies. Working out can do wonders to help you manage your stress levels. You can also take some natural calming substances before you start gaming, such as chamomile tea, or one of Cibdol CBD products.

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