Getting tilted: Competitive motives, emotion dysregulation, and tilt frequency among videogame players


Competition is often a profoundly motivated and emotional experience. Failures in highly motivated performance situations can lead to unpleasant, undesirable emotions. These emotions, if left unregulated, can differently impact individuals' abilities to perform (e.g., Lane et al., 2011). Videogames provide a unique performance context for examining relationships between motives for competing, performance outcomes, and emotional experiences. In videogame settings, the term 'tilt' describes a cyclical phenomenon whereby negative emotions stemming from failures lead people to adopt poorer performance strategies resulting in more failures. The purpose of the current study was to examine the relationships between motives for playing videogames, emotion dysregulation, and tilt frequency amongst gamers. Participants (n = 451) were recruited from online gaming communities and completed online surveys. Respondents experienced tilt approximately 23% of the time they play (M = 23.26, SD = 16.69). A multiple regression analysis revealed that playing videogames for mood repair motives (b = .64; p = 0.001, 95% CI = [0.28, 1.04]) and for competitive gratification motives (b = .80, p = 0.01; 95% CI = [0.15, 1.37]) independently predicted tilt frequency in gamers, though the model itself only accounted for a small proportion of the total variance (R2 = 0.05). A subsequent moderation analysis revealed that emotion dysregulation marginally, but significantly moderated the relationship between gratification motives and tilt frequency (b = .03, p = .03, CI = [0.004, .053]). These findings shed light on how the interaction between competitive motives and emotion dysregulation relates to propensities for tilting.