Gaming Gripes: What stresses gamers out the most in 2023?
Video games can be an immense source of entertainment, but are also known for challenging players and increasing their stress levels to the point of ‘rage quit’ or ‘go on tilt’. It’s a common frustration to see players abandon a game halfway through because they’re too angry to carry on, but we wanted to dive deeper into exactly what grinds gamers’ gears the most.
At Replay Poker, we analysed tweets with mentions of dozens of the world’s most popular video and mobile games to find out which titles, genres and platforms were shown to stress players out the most. Read on to see what we discovered.
What we did
Our team identified 160 of the most played, iconic and popular video games from the past five years. This included a variety of genres, playing options and platforms, from first-person shooter PC games to mobile puzzles.
We analysed more than 340,000 US and UK tweets, using the AI tool TensiStrength, based on mentions of each official game hashtag. The tool detects levels of negative sentiment, which we used to determine which games rallied the most stress from gamers.
The results of our research reveal which games, genres, and platforms cause the most stress, as well as which gaming gripes are most common for different player bases. We’ve also provided commentary on ways to help reduce stress during any particularly intense gaming sessions.
Which video games stress fans out the most?
The hard-hitting, action-packed combat in the God of War series has been challenging gamers since 2005. But while its latest instalment has broken records by being the fastest-selling PlayStation game at launch, it has also topped our own rankings as the most stress inducing game released in the last five years.
According to our research, God of War: Ragnarök is the game most likely to provoke players with 60.8% of tweets about it registering as stressed. Outlast, the gut-wrenching survival horror, came in as a close second scoring just 0.5% less.
But it seems no one is safe from frustrating gaming experiences as the global, mobile gaming phenomenon of Candy Crush Saga also squeezed into the top ten. Tweets about the dopamine-dispensing puzzle game were identified as stressed more than half of the time, coming in at a rate of 52.4%.
Footnotes: Replay Poker analysed more than 340,000 tweets to rank the top 10 most stressful video games, based on the proportion of tweets about each title identified as ‘stressed’ by TensiStrength.
Which video games stress fans out the least?
Players looking to enjoy a more relaxed gaming experience might find Pokémon: Let’s Go Eevee! to be their best option according to our AI research. This 2018 remake tops the ranking with just 18.1% of tweets about the game expressing stress. Pokémon Quest, another popular title from the franchise, follows closely with a proportion of 19.8%.
With a winning combination of nostalgia-factor, engaging storylines, and the freedom to play at your own pace, players should find themselves significantly less likely to rage quit from these popular Nintendo titles!
Footnotes: Replay Poker analysed more than 340,000 tweets to rank the top 10 least stressful video games, based on the proportion of tweets about each title identified as ‘stressed’ by TensiStrength.
Which types of video games stress fans out the most?
Horror game developers use all kinds of tricks to create tension and induce players’ fight-or-flight response, but how effective are they really? The results of our research suggest their scare tactics seem to be doing a frighteningly good job, with survival horror games being identified as the most likely to stress players out.
More than half of tweets (54.4%) about games like Resident Evil and Amnesia: Rebirth were identified as stressed by our AI tool. But strategy and puzzle games were not far behind, scoring 52.4% and 51.3% respectively to put them in second and third place.
Footnotes: Replay Poker analysed more than 340,000 tweets to rank the top 10 most stressful game genres, based on the proportion of tweets about games in each category that were identified as ‘stressed’ by TensiStrength.
Which types of video games stress fans out the least?
Despite the inherently competitive nature of games like FIFA and the NBA 2K series, our analysis revealed that it’s actually sports games that trigger the least stressed responses from players. Just 17.3% of tweets associated with games in the genre were found to show stress.
Racing games just missed out on pole position, coming in at a respectable second place with 25.9% of tweets about games like Forza Horizon 5 registering as stressed. Fans of the genre won’t be surprised by this as the open-world game mode is a popular choice amongst players to help them unwind.
Footnotes: Replay Poker analysed more than 340,000 tweets to rank the top 10 least stressful game genres, based on the proportion of tweets about games in each category that were identified as ‘stressed’ by TensiStrength.
Which platform stresses fans out the most?
There have been disputes over which device is best for gaming ever since gaming entered the mainstream. From the original console war between Sega and Nintendo in the 90s, to PC gamers touting superiority over PlayStation and Xbox players throughout the 2010s. Today? Mobile gaming holds as much market share as PC and console combined.
But if you ignore all that discourse, which platform is best if you’re simply looking to enjoy your game time?
We ranked gaming platforms from most to least stressful and found PC games were responsible for stressing players out the most, with 42.1% of tweets expressing stress when mentioning games played on the platform.
Console players shouldn’t feel too smug, however. A mere 1% separates PC from PlayStation 5 in second place, and Xbox Series S + Series X fourth place. Whether you’re team PC or team console, perhaps it’s time to finally admit that neither can claim superiority after all…
Occupying the third spot was macOS; not an unexpected result given their long-standing reputation as poor gaming devices, even in 2023.
But it’s the Nintendo Switch that’s the real winner, ranking as the least stressful out of all the consoles we investigated. Just 29.9% of tweets mentioning Switch games registered as being stressed.
Footnotes: Replay Poker analysed more than 340,000 tweets to rank the top 10 most stressful gaming platforms, based on the proportion of tweets about them that were identified as ‘stressed’ by TensiStrength.
What do gamers complain about the most?
The gaming community isn’t shy about voicing their opinions online, and so we analysed the most common words and phrases used in player complaints on Twitter to find out exactly what grinds gamers’ gears in 2023.
Looking at all the tweets identified as stressed, it was ‘remake’ that got mentioned most by players. It’s well-known that video game remakes can be a contentious issue within the community, with frustration usually due to them being a lazy copy of the original with better graphics, or a clear attempt to capitalise on players’ nostalgia.
We weren’t surprised to see ‘maps’ make the top 10 either, with even casual players of most FPS and Battle Royale games having one or two maps they dread loading into. And, to offer one final consideration for the PC vs Console debate, you won’t find mentions of ‘PC’ even in the top 100, but ‘Console’ did manage to squeeze into the top 10…
Footnotes: Replay Poker analysed more than 140,000 tweets to rank the most common gamer complaints based on the number of mentions per 1,000 tweets. This ranking only considered tweets that were identified as ‘stressed’ by TensiStrength.
Commentary: Stress relief while gaming
For most people, playing video games is a way to relax, have fun, and connect with friends. Nevertheless, gaming can present several challenges, including staying safe online and the level of stress and frustration that can lead to anxiety.
No matter how tricky a multiplayer game is, or how hard a level in your favourite game can be, it’s important to remember the reason you picked up the controller in the first place.
Whenever you play a game, remember that it should provide you with relief and escapism, not make your existing stress levels worse. Games such as competitive, multiplayer shooters can be quite stressful, but remember that having fun and progressing is more important than winning.
Occasionally, you might not feel like you’re playing as well as you usually would but remember that everyone has off days. If you need help with a single-player game, check out online walkthroughs, or try playing cooperatively with friends or other gamers.
When stress levels start to rise, take some deep breaths and use the 3/3/3 technique which helps regulate your body. Breathe inward for a 3-second count, hold for a 3-second count, and then exhale for 3 seconds to perform this exercise.
If the stress becomes overwhelming, it’s best to take a break — whether that’s changing games or putting down your controller and coming back another time.
For those looking for a low-stress, free-to-play gaming alternative, Replay Poker offers a great range of low and medium stake tables with games like Texas Hold’em, Omaha Hi/Lo and more. It’s perfect whether you’re card-curious or already a poker pro, and it’s completely risk free with no real money required.
Using a seed list of 160 games, we gathered 340,000 tweets across the UK and US, broken down by genres including: sandbox; real-time strategy (RTS); shooters (FPS and TPS); multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA); role-playing (RPG, ARPG, and more); simulation and sports; puzzlers and party games; action-adventure; survival and horror; platformer; and battle royales.
Games in our seed list were considered to be the most popular or most played, and any games from a series were only included if they were released after 2018.
After identifying the official hashtags for each game, our next step was to analyse all the tweets mentioning them using TensiStrength. This academic AI tool measures the sentiment of short pieces of text (like tweets) using a scale from -1 to -5, with scores between -2 and -5 classified as being ‘stressed’.
After our analysis was complete, we then ranked the most and least stressful games, genres, consoles and devices, as well as the most common complaints among gamers according to the percentage of stressful tweets linked to each.
All data is accurate as of 18th January 2023.