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Are competitive games ruining your mental health?

Have you ever heard of the term rage queuing? It’s a popular term in competitive gaming, and in particular the League of Legends scene. If you’re not familiar, rage queuing refers to the act of repeatedly queuing into or entering a game after having lost multiple times. This often results in hours of consecutive losses, stress, and heartache.

Impatient gamer

When I first learned of the term, I suddenly remembered all the times me and my friends also “rage-queued” into more games of competitive first-person-shooter, Valorant. We were playing ranked and as our losses piled up, we still had that urge to keep queuing to redeem our defeats.

Did we succeed? I don’t quite remember. What I do remember is that we were all much more tense and short-tempered during these games, which definitely didn’t help team morale or our overall mental state.

Gamer that lost

This got me wondering then: Are competitive games ruining our mental health?

Competitive games such as League of Legends, DOTA 2, Counter-Strike, PUBG, and Valorant, among others, have become as popular as they are because of the competition they provide. But, they may also be negatively affecting our mood and overall mental well-being.

In this article, I want to explore how competitive games can affect our mental health and take a look at a few things we can keep an eye on when the rage queuing has gotten a bit out of hand.

Are competitive games ruining your mental health?

Frustrated boy
Before we start, however, I do want to make it clear that I am in no way a licensed doctor, a psychiatrist, or a mental health professional. I’m just a gamer who’s curious about the topic and is interested in bringing the conversation to the table.

With that, let’s take a look.

Why competitive games?

Competitive game

We first have to understand why I chose to talk about competitive games in relation to mental health. Personally, I chose competitive games because it was the genre of gaming where I first “rage-queued.” So, I wanted to dive in deeper, and here are some of my observations:

First, competitive games are generally more intense and stressful. It’s in the name — “competitive” — meaning there are winners and losers and thus, the outcome of these games is much more likely to affect gamers’ emotions.

Second, competitive games usually employ a ranking system that’s primarily based on wins and losses. The more you win, the higher you rank; the more you lose, the more you…rage quit. So, there are stakes, and that in itself is a much more stressful affair than your casual game. You don’t really see anyone raging out from playing Candy Crush, do we?

Lastly, it seems like competitive games are where you’ll find the most “rage queuing,” which we will now get into in a bit.

Why do gamers rage queue?

Rage queue

It seems illogical at first glance, players continue to enter into matches even after consecutive losses. However, the concept is not actually new.

If you’ve ever heard of the term “sunk-cost fallacy,” rage queuing fits it perfectly. According to Oxford Languages, the sunk-cost fallacy refers to “the phenomenon whereby a person is reluctant to abandon a strategy or course of action because they have invested heavily in it.”

This is almost exactly what rage queuing is — gamers refusing to stop playing because they have already allotted a ton of time and effort into trying to win a game. Unfortunately, rage queuing can result in two things: the more hopeful outcome of coming out on top and winning; or, the unlucky end that is another loss.

Team-based competitive games

Frustrated Teammate
Moving past rage queueing, we can also observe that most competitive games are team-based. This means that in these games, you play with 3 or 4 people and go against another team of 5 and more. With that, most modern games usually allow both teammates and opponents to interact with one another (through voice or text chat).

And of course, friendly banter and back and forth amongst the players is one of the reasons why competitive games are so fun.

But, this setup also enables a tendency for teammates and opponents to vent out frustration with one another, eventually leading to a poorer emotional state for our gamer.

Stoic gamer

Below-the-belt comments and harmful insults are unfortunately widespread in the competitive gaming scene, and this may be one reason why competitive games can expose gamers to a decline in their mental wellbeing

Attacking ourselves

Sad gamer

In tandem with insults and attacks on others is attacks on ourselves. Maybe we’re having a rough game or our stats are lower than usual, or you’re being insulted by the other team (or even your teammates) for your poor play — competitive gaming can be an avenue of self-hate.

I think getting frustrated during a bad game is completely fine. It’s part of it. But, the minute you start to hate yourself because of a video game, that’s probably the time to start catching yourself and remembering that your self-worth should never be tied to how well or how badly you play any video game.

In defense of competitive gaming

It might not seem like it, but I do enjoy and appreciate competitive games. As mentioned earlier, I play a healthy amount of Valorant and a bit of Mobile Legends here and there. And while competitive games are the subject of our mental health analysis, I feel it is just as important to give credit to competitive gaming for its well-earned place in the gaming world.

Mobile Legends Competition

Through competitive gaming, gamers have been given the chance to hone their skills in a game they love and match up or play with other players from all over the world. Competitive games have also been the main driving force of e-sports, a novel sports and entertainment industry that has taken gaming to new heights.

Competitive games in e-sports have also given us some of the most memorable moments, not just in the history of gaming but in entertainment and sports as a whole.

Competitive Gaming community

And there is also nothing like grinding a competitive game with your friends to escape the lowest rank and eventually achieving your team’s shared goal (speaking from personal experience).

The important thing is to have fun

Gamers enjoying

By no means do I wish to villainize competitive gaming and persuade you to quit the genre altogether. Competitive games are fun and are an essential part of the gaming industry. And as mentioned earlier, I’m a fan of them too!

I just think it is equally as important to check in on ourselves once in a while and ask if we’re pushing our competitiveness in these games a bit too much.

Competitive video games are arguably one of the best genres of gaming out there. They allow us to compete with friends and family, put ourselves in the shoes of otherworldly characters, and grant us an escape from the stresses of everyday life.

Gamers having fun

It is just my hope that the next time you and your friends are about to rage queue, you’re able to catch yourself and maybe talk about taking a break before starting another game. Or maybe, the next time you start to feel a sense of hate towards yourself after a bad game or after a heated encounter with a toxic teammate or opponent, you’re able to take a step back and remind yourself that your well-being is and will never be connected to how well you play in any competitive game.

After all, competitive games, and video games as a whole, were made for us to have fun!

What do you think about gaming and mental health? Do you agree or disagree with our thoughts? Let us know by commenting down below!

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Avatar for Luis Miguel Millares

Luis Millares is a Political Science graduate of the Ateneo de Manila University and a former journalist for its official student publication, The GUIDON. He also worked as a writer for the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) before pursuing his passion for tech with the YugaTech team.

1 Response

  1. Avatar for Alison Alison says:

    Competitive games ruin mental health if we’re so focused on winning and ranking up. I used to play a lot of Valorant before switching to Overwatch 2. I’m not complaining here, but I just realized that quit Valorant not because of the intensiveness and toxicity, but the bullet sounds are too loud when I get shot at. I get jumpscares every time when someone shoots me from behind. It’s weird! I don’t know if it’s just me or everyone just ignore the sounds.

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