ABSTRACT: Digital games have long been investigated for links to negative influences, but they exert a range of impacts on players. A variety of factors can contribute to stressful experiences in play, including game content, player interactions, and gender. This project uses qualitative methods to better understand how players experience and perceive these stressors and why they persist despite them. There are a surprising number of ways that players’ experiences align in spite of gender. Players encounter stress with both design and social experiences, are inclined to “rage quit” if stressors are substantial enough, and are increasingly averse to toxic communities. However, there are also gender-specific experiences. Men are much more concerned with the skillsets of other players, while women worry about their own performance. Further, these experiences of stress complicate our understandings of distress and eustress, with players less motivated by stressors than they are by the anticipated future relief from distress.

KEY WORDS: digital games, gender, persistence, qualitative, stress.

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