My name's Paul, and I get angry when I play video games.
It is not uncommon for a man to experience an exorbitant amount of anger when faced with a seemingly unassailable end-of-level boss, or when he finds himself in the middle of an unenviable losing streak online. However, it is perhaps not as common for a man to vent his frustrations by, say, punching a hole in a wooden door, or by headbutting an Xbox 360 controller. Unfortunately, this is the beast inside of me I must attempt to tame whenever I sit on the sofa in order to enjoy my hobby.
It all started with the Super Nintendo. Back then video games didn't hold a child's hand to the finish line like they do these days. They would grab the child's arm and twist it, tormenting him, bullying him: "Oh, you can't complete me?" Super Ghouls 'n' Ghosts would say, "this is why your parent's divorced, you incompetent little shit."
But after weeks of trying I did complete Super Ghouls 'n' Ghosts, because I had grown used to the unforgiving nature of video games. Despite my preadolescent need to succeed at everything, losing at video games had become commonplace. I knew that when I began playing the latest release that I would inevitably end up replaying the same levels over and over again in the hopes that I would one day reach the last level, and I was okay with that, because that was just the way that things were.
However, there were signs of the monster lurking deep within me. Once when playing Super Mario Kart, I became so enraged by the CPU's cheating ways that I walked right up to the television screen and flipped it the bird. As the television is an inanimate object it remained largely unoffended, but the same could not be said for my devout Catholic grandparents, who my Mom and Dad had invited over for a pleasant dinner but who were now spending their evening staring mouths agape at their grandson whilst he goaded an electrical appliance.
The good thing about those days was that the TV's could take a beating. If you were to take your frustrations out on one of the slim HDTV's we have today they'd likely fall to the floor and quiver like an androgynous male model being told that his hair isn't platinum enough. But when you squared up to one of those big 90's TV's you were worried that it would suddenly develop consciousness and knock your teeth out. Fortunately they never did, so I spent a large portion of my youth frantically slapping at the glass screen of one of those big bastards because I deemed it partially responsible for not allowing me to defeat the video game I'd just spent a month's worth of my allowance on.
As previously mentioned, I beat Super Ghouls 'n' Ghosts when I was younger. Those of you who have played it will understand how great an achievement that is, and those of you who have never played it, trust me; it's tough as shit. Y'see, back in the early 90's I was an unstoppable gaming force, capable of overcoming any obstacle set before me in the 2D realm armed with nothing but my SNES controller and an unfaltering desire to succeed. But then gaming made the jump into 3D, and I found myself unable to adapt to this added dimension.
Fast-forward several years and I am now a mediocre gamer. The memory of completing Super Ghouls 'n' Ghosts is but a blip of brilliance in my past, and now whenever a game becomes too tough for me I simply rage quit before throwing it onto the pile of other selfishly difficult games; I no longer enjoy the challenge, I just want to WIN.
Unfortunately, this overwhelming desire to succeed and remain unopposed whilst doing so has made me become something of a monster. Or rather, a monstrous nuisance.
I was forced to face my anger problem when my girlfriend witnessed one of my frequent rages during a game of Ghost Recon: Future Soldier. As I happily marched my character into enemy territory only for him to have his vulnerable body penetrated with bullets, I sprang from out of my seat: "YOU DOPEY PRICK", I yelled at his lifeless corpse. He was not to blame, of course – his movements were just an extension of my thumbs, which had moved him to his inevitable demise. His blood was on my hands, yet here I was, spitting at my TV screen whilst my girlfriend sat behind me, her head hanging in shame, remembering the times I used to take her out for expensive meals and buy her fancy gifts. Now I just shouted at army men who lived inside my television.
A short while later, I became embroiled in a heated exchange with a fellow gamer during a session of FIFA 12. He was Manchester United, I was Real Madrid, yet somehow he managed to defeat me. 6-1. As he scored his sixth and final goal, he plugged in his headset and began laughing at me through the microphone.
It was a maniacal cackle, one belonging to a man who had spent too much time on the winning side of life. Enraged, I decided that it was up to me to bring him down a few pegs, and put on my headset in order to concisely explain my displeasure in a manner that would hopefully make him realise his wrongdoing. "FUCKING C*NT", I bellowed down the microphone, "REMATCH." And rematch we did, with this time him beating me by a score of 4-0. Again, he laughed. And laughed. And laughed…
The venomous bile spilling from my mouth as he continued to guffaw were no longer my words. I was no longer in control of my mouth; the monster was in control, this merciless beast had consumed me and it was unstoppable. Before I knew it, it had thrown my 360 controller to the wall. The X, Y and A buttons scattered along the floor, the left thumbstick hung lifelessly and broken. What had I become?
I'm writing this so that you, the reader, may face up to your gaming anger problem and confront it before it consumes you like it has done with me. Take your girlfriend out, meet new people, experiment with drugs, even play Flower if you absolutely have to – just don't let your raging define who you are.
Follow the author on the Twittorz: @PaulTamburro