Video games offer an outlet for our frustrations and allow us to temporarily escape from the real world. Games have become a safety blanket and provided entertainment during lockdown, but the stressors inside video games can build a counterproductive experience and create unhealthy habits. Understanding your triggers and embracing your digital strengths can help combat tilt and anxiety.

According to a survey by ComfySacks, the most stressful video games are Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, and Fortnite. All titles are highly competitive and have a significant influence in esports, particularly Call of Duty: Warzone. While shooting enemies online can be a satisfying and cathartic experience, for many, the competition fuels frustration and anger. That anger can leak into real life.

The survey revealed that over 50% of players admitted to yelling at others. While competition can influence heated conversations, many gamers have succumbed to their anger. Over 40% admitted to yelling at a friend, and over 30% have broken a controller. When gaming transforms into a stressful situation, everyone suffers.

Five Games to Help Battle Stress

Stress and anxiety often push gamers to dive deeply into familiar video games, but what titles truly help extinguish feelings of anger and frustration?

1. Animal Crossing: New Horizons
Animal Crossing is a no brainer when it comes to fun and relaxation. Even hearing the title music has a calming effect as you hop back into your island and interact with the other quirky villagers. There’s something relaxing about building your own tropical paradise while combating Tom Nook’s obsession with bells.

2. Stardew Valley
Stardew Valley has the same lazy, soothing mechanics that makes Animal Crossing a timeless gem. The goal of the game? Whatever you want it to be. There’s an endless rewarding sensation just by going through the motions. You can become a master farmer, a wealthy miner, a skilled fisherman, or a blend of everything as you wander around town and strengthen relationships with the other residents. With constant short-term goals and a calendar filled with events, each season creates wholesome anticipation.

3. Minecraft
Minecraft is a classic that has truly become a staple in the video game industry. While Survival may interject a dose of anxious competition, Creative is truly where the magic exists for those desperate to battle anxiety. There’s something gratifying in building your own island, and the possibilities are endless. My first island became a massive suburb filled with pixel art and a rollercoaster that would launch players through the living room of my house on the street. Creative mode became something really magical when I invited friends over to build.

4. Skyrim
Skyrim is one of my favorite games of all time. It’s the first title I pull out when winter approaches. While it’s not like the other games in the list, Skyrim has a lot of soothing qualities… y’know, when you’re not suddenly ambushed by a dragon. The music is the first quality that washes over you, and jumping back into the snowy mountains, which should feel harsh and dangerous, has a soothing effect.

5. Genshin Impact
Genshin Impact is my newest obsession and offers hours of stress-free entertainment. The free-to-play RPG provides a massive open-world filled with gliding, swimming, cooking, looting, and gathering. Sure, there are dungeons and monsters to face, but exploring on your own is highly rewarding. The only possible downside? Genshin Impact is 100% a Gacha game. It’s one of the fairest I’ve played in recent times, and the game is extremely generous when it comes to giving you free currency to gamble with, but it could help encourage you to spend money, which in my experience is often stressful.

Whatever type of video game you prefer, being self-aware and conscious of unhealthy habits can enhance your experience and help you avoid negative feelings. Make yourself comfortable, take breaks, and have fun!