When you think of video games, it’s easy to envision a relaxing hobby spent chilling out and letting off some steam with the likes of Animal Crossing or Skyrim. That said, on the other side of the same coin, there’s a whole other world out there crammed with stress-inducing, controller-breaking frustration.
Indeed, while many gaming experiences are designed around the concept of pleasure and relaxation, there’re tons of titles that attempt to do the exact opposite to their playerbase. From the survival horror of Alien: Isolation to the brutally unforgiving RPG action of Dark Souls, it’s fair to say that there’s a burgeoning market for all those hardcore, masochistic enthusiasts out there. In other words, in the realm of gaming, stress can sometimes be, well, fun.
Interestingly, a recent study by website BonusFinder – in collaboration with a bunch of real-life sports scientists – has revealed some of the most stressful games on the market right now. More specifically, they tasked 14 competitive gamers to play 16 of the most popular titles at the moment, which included games like Fortnite and Among Us, and measured their heart rates over the course of a 30-minute play session. And the results were pretty interesting.
Firstly, of all the included titles, the one considered to be the most stressful to play was Mario Kart (the study doesn’t specify which version, but it’s likely to be the latest mainline entry, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe on Nintendo Switch). The average heart rate throughout a session of the popular game was 85 BPM (a 32.81% increase over resting rate), narrowly beating FIFA 20 and even Call of Duty: Modern Warfare.
Next, the study tracked peak heart rates to see which titles produced the most heart-pounding moments. Unsurprisingly, Dark Souls 3 took the number one spot in this experiment. As you probably already know, the popular Japanese action-RPG series is infamous for its brutal difficulty, so it’s not exactly surprising for it to be scientifically proven to be one of the most stressful games in the world. In fact, players’ heart rates spiked as high as 127 BPM during the Darkeater Midir boss fight.
Finally, Mediatonic’s colourful battle royale Fall Guys managed to take second place in the same aforementioned category. Pretty nuts, right? Who’d have thought that stress could be so much fun?