Every gamer knows that sensation of repetitive failure when trying to overcome a steep challenge. Maybe the game is poorly designed, and you're mad at the developers for failing to make it clear what you're supposed to do. Maybe the controls are clunky, and you can't execute the moves you need to. Maybe a particular enemy has a cheap one-hit kill. Or maybe you just suck. Whatever the reason, you're dying constantly, you're not very happy about it, and there's profanity (and possibly controllers) flying through the air.
You might turn down the difficulty or consult an online guide. But in many games, there's another option for dealing with your rage: Play the game in co-op mode instead. We all know that co-op can be a lot of fun, but it's underappreciated as a way to mitigate your anger.
The most obvious way that co-op relieves rage is by making the game a little easier. After all, two players can do a lot more damage than one. And if your co-op partner replaces a friendly A.I., you'll definitely benefit from the intelligence advantages that human beings have over computers. You'll have a full-fledged partner ready to kill enemies without getting killed himself. That kind of partner is invaluable.
But there are lots of smaller ways that co-op helps as well. If you're on the couch next to your partner, or if you can communicate via chat software, you can work together to formulate strategies and solve puzzles. The old cliché goes that two heads are better than one, and co-op proves that it's absolutely correct. Working together, you can figure out tricky passages that neither of you could have handled alone, and you can also work out complex maneuvers that one person would not be able to execute. And if you would never in a million years come up with the idea of using a specific type of ammo on a new enemy, maybe your partner will.
You can probably think of a game where co-op has helped you, but my own is the Gears of War franchise. No, these aren't terribly difficult games by themselves, but they can be tricky at times on the higher difficulties. Working through them with my younger brother has always been more fun to me than going it alone. The lame jokes and terrible dialogue are a lot less annoying with a friend, too.
Another fine example is Dark Souls. Because the developers hate you, they make you jump through some hoops before you can summon a helper—but co-op is indispensable for some of the game's many, many tough parts. And Dark Souls even lets you leave messages for other players with tips, tricks, and taunts. Co-Op won't eliminate the core of rage that Dark Souls instills in every player, but it will tone it down a bit.
Let's not forget about the social aspect of co-op gaming, either. Yes, it can relieve stress to chitchat with a friend or relative (or even a stranger) while you play, but more importantly, we tend to behave better when someone else is watching. You might overreact to every death when you're in a room by yourself, but with a friend next to you—or a stranger on the other side of a headset microphone—you'll definitely feel the need to control your temper. No one likes to play with someone who screams and swears all the time. And I've found that I'm not merely bottling up my rage when I play with someone else—the social pressure actually helps me to control it. It seems to be a basic aspect of human nature.
We all love video games—how could you not?—but easily one of their worst features is their tendency to provoke uncontrollable anger in the people who play them. We should always look for ways to help control our tempers without destroying the challenge that makes games fun. And co-op is one useful tool for this purpose.
Date: October 5, 2012
*The views expressed within this article are solely the opinion of the author and do not express the views held by Cheat Code Central.*