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If you play any kind of competitive video game, you probably know all about tilt and how much it sucks.

But what is tilt?

Essentially, tilt is when, for whatever reason, a player is in a negative state of mind. This negativity directly results in poor performance and/or upsetting that player’s teammates.

Tilting is a vicious cycle. You get frustrated and that makes you play poorly. Then your poor in-game performance then makes you even more frustrated, which in turn makes you play even worse. We’ve all experienced this, even in single-player games. I’m certainly no exception. Just take a look at this:

Tilting is no fun. It can ruin what was supposed to be a relaxing and fun gaming session. It can make playing video games feel like a chore. It can even put you in a bad mood for the rest of the day. But it can be overcome.

The Causes:

It’s pretty much impossible to combat tilt if you don’t know why it happens. Here are some of the most common causes of tilt:

Poor Performance

Let’s be honest. Sometimes you just don’t play well. It happens to the best of us. Unfortunately, playing poorly can feel really frustrating, which will only lead to even worse performance in the future. This is especially true for players who hold themselves to a high standard and are very self-critical.

Losing Streaks

Whether you’re playing well or not, sometimes a loss is inevitable. Losing several games in a row is very demoralizing and it can be very hard to break a losing streak once it starts to feel hopeless. Though losing streaks are often a symptom of tilt rather than a cause, they almost always serve to make a player even more tilted.

Toxicity

Sometimes you’re playing with or against a total jerk. They seem to berate your every mistake and call you names that would make a sailor blush. Oftentimes, this does nothing but make you upset and hurt your performance.

Bad Luck

Even when you’re playing well, sometimes you just have a run of bad luck. You might be having the best game of your life, but if luck is not on your side, there may be nothing you can do to win. When bad luck ends up being more influential than good performance, it can be incredibly frustrating.

Bad Teammates

Sometimes bad luck comes in the form of bad teammates. There will be games where you do your job incredibly but your teammates do so poorly that you simply cannot carry them to victory. This is what is most likely to cause me to tilt because in that scenario, you know you deserved a victory because you did well, but your teammates cost you that victory.

There is an “Insurmountable” Obstacle

While no video game challenge or opponent is truly insurmountable, it can certainly feel like it sometimes. Maybe it’s that one boss that you just can’t beat. Maybe it’s that luck-based achievement you’ve been trying to get for hours. Maybe you’re playing against a player who’s a far higher rank than you. If you’re up against something that feels unbeatable, it can be demoralizing to the point where you simply don’t try your hardest because it feels like it’s pointless to do so, which only seals your fate.

Fear

This cause is a lot more abstract than the other ones I’ve listed. If you get intimidated by an in-game challenge, you may end up playing much more cautiously than usual. This can result in you being indecisive or afraid to take calculated risks. Naturally, this will end with poorer performance, which only serves to validate your fear and start the process of tilting.

Fixing Tilt

Ok, so we know what can cause tilt. Once you recognize that you are tilting and can isolate the causes, you can work on fixing it. Here are some tricks you can use to de-tilt:

Take a Break

Seriously. Sometimes a time-out is all you need to get out of your funk. Five minutes away from the source of your stress can act as a reset button for your emotions so you can get back in the game better than ever.

Remove Physical Discomfort

While being uncomfortable will not cause tilt, it can certainly make it worse. So get up and stretch a bit. Eat a snack. Take a shower. Go to the bathroom. You’ll feel better and it will be easier to get back into a positive state of mind once you’re comfortable again.

Force Yourself to Think

One of the things that happens when you’re tilting is you tend to act based on emotion rather than logic. This is the primary cause of poor performance from tilt. Sometimes mind over matter is the answer. Force yourself to analyze your decisions. Consider each possibility carefully. While this will not bring you back to 100% immediately, you will certainly play better than you were. Once you realize you’re improving, the tilt will slowly go down until you’re back to a healthy state of mind.

Focus on the Little Things

Ok, so you’re losing your game and starting to go on tilt. I know it’s hard, but try to ignore the fact that you’re losing. Ignore the teammate that’s feeding enough to solve world hunger. Focus on yourself. What are you doing right now and how can you do that thing better? Instead of looking at the score in despair, try to focus on not missing any shots or abilities. You’ll feel better if you think about yourself and don’t worry about anyone else. It may not save your game, but the loss will feel less devastating for sure.

Play Something Less Stressful

Games can be stressful, and that’s not always a bad thing. After all, stress encourages us to try our best and to improve. However, when you’re tilting, stress is not what you need, so you should be playing something less stressful. Are you playing a ranked game? Go play a normal match or two. Are you playing a single-player game on the hardest difficulty? Play on easy for a level or two. Sometimes it can be as simple as playing a character or playstyle that you’re comfortable with. As long as you are eliminating stress, you will feel better.

Do a Comfort Activity

It’s hard to be tilted if you feel really good. How many times have you been able to stay frustrated while eating a bowl of ice cream? Just do something that you always enjoy. You can listen to some relaxing music. Or perhaps you might want to watch your favorite movie. If you put yourself in a comfortable/happy setting, chances are you’ll de-tilt pretty quickly.

Don’t Play Upset

Sometimes you just have a bad day. I get it. It happens, but that is not the time to play stressful games. You won’t play well and not only is that prime fodder for tilt, since you’re already upset, it will be much easier to go on tilt. If you’re upset, don’t play ranked modes and don’t play a ridiculously difficult game. Save it for when you’re feeling better.

Don’t Play Tired/Inebriated

Just like a bad day, a sub-par body will cause sub-par performance. If you’re drunk, high, or exhausted, you will not play your best. It’s probably best to either take a nap or just do something else and wait for your body to process the substances you’ve ingested.

Take Some “Personal Time”

It may not be appropriate to mention in polite conversation, but giving yourself some attention is one of the most immediately effective tools to relieve stress. By all means, lock your door, grab a tissue, and “relax” a bit. Just keep it to yourself.

Mute/Block Toxic Players

Sometimes a jerk can make you go on tilt. They might be angrily criticizing and mocking your every move. Fortunately, practically every game in existence has a way to shut them up. Games like League of Legends have options to mute specific players for the duration of the game. Most games also allow you to block users, permanently preventing communications from them. It doesn’t mater how toxic someone is if you’re blind and deaf to them.

Stop Tilt Before It Starts

Try to recognize when you’re getting frustrated before it gets out of hand. Maybe you just lost three games in a row and you’re starting to play worse. It’s best to stop now before that three-loss streak turns into a ten-loss streak. It’s much easier to fix mild tilt than major tilt. Continuing to play while tilted will just make it worse.

Accept Personal Responsibility

It’s very easy to feel like a victim. Sometimes a game goes really poorly and your first instinct might be to blame your teammates or bad luck. However, oftentimes you’re the one to blame. If you continue blaming everyone besides yourself, you just might convince yourself that your frustration is actually righteous anger, which will not make you play any better.

Don’t Be Toxic

This should be obvious. If you’re having a bad time, there’s no reason to make your teammates have a bad time too. If you can keep your rage to yourself, you won’t be dragging your team down with you. Maybe they’ll even be able to carry you to victory.

Abusing Tilt For Personal Gain

Oh, did you think this was just going to be a positive article designed to make the world a happier place? THINK AGAIN! Don’t forget that I am a gamer and I understand doing whatever it takes to win. Tilt something that affects not only you and your teammates, but your opponents as well, and it can be abused in order to tip the odds in your favor. Here are some ways of causing and exploiting tilt in your opponents:

Be Toxic

Disclaimer: I do not support this method of tilting enemy players. However, I cannot deny its effectiveness. You can turn a small lead into a large one by insulting and mocking your opponents. The demoralizing effect can make them play much worse and cement your lead. Be aware that this is very likely to backfire if they are the ones with the lead, as they will have a renewed desire to prove your mockery wrong. Also, be aware that toxicity is against the terms of service for most multiplayer games, and being toxic can result in a mute or a ban. I wholeheartedly advise against toxicity.

Reverse Snowball

In gaming, the term “snowballing” refers to when a player gets an early lead and is able to compound that lead to become unstoppable. By that same metric, a player who gets behind early can become essentially useless if you don’t let up on them. If you focus on making sure a player gets and stays behind, you can cause them to go on tilt.

Tease Your Opponent

While I don’t endorse toxicity, a little lighthearted teasing is okay. Consider using a dance emote when you kill your opponent. If your opponent makes a really stupid mistake, make a little joke about it in the chat. While you’re not being excessively antagonizing, this teasing can make your opponent become more self-critical and potentially start tilting.

Capitalize on Losing Streaks

If you’re playing a game where you can search other players’ match histories, this strategy is excellent. If you find someone who has several recent losses in a row, you can target that player for the reverse snowball process. They are more likely to be on tilt from the start. Shutting them down early has a high chance of making them useless. I was speaking to a League of Legends player who managed to make it to the Platinum division (approximately top 5% of players) solely by targeting players on losing streaks.

Create An “Insurmountable Obstacle”

Remember how I mentioned that a perceived insurmountable obstacle is a cause of tilting? Well, you can exploit that if you can create an insurmountable obstacle. This is usually done by getting yourself or a teammate to snowball. If you can get a force on your side massively ahead of everyone else, your opponents will feel as if there is no proper response and are more likely to go on tilt, allowing you to more effectively capitalize on that advantage. Take a look at the results of a recent League of Legends game of mine. My opponents could not kill me and instead kept dying. They tilted pretty hard and surrendered early on.

So What’s the Takeaway?

Tilt is a natural part of being human. When faced with any obstacle in life, it’s to be expected that you’ll get frustrated now and then. The trick is to be able to manage that frustration and not let it control you. Mastering tilt is a vital step on the path of becoming a better gamer and a better person.

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