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These Are The Most Stressful Video Games

Video games can either be a relaxing or stress-filled endeavor, with everything in-between. To understand how video games rank in stress, BonusFinder ran a study examining which games were the most stressful for gamers.

BonusFinder's experiment included a sample of 14 gamers whose heart rates were measured using heart rate monitors while playing a selection of games "for at least 15 hours per week" at a maximum of 30 minutes each.

The games played during the experiment included an unspecified iteration of Doom, Fortnite, Skyrim, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, and Minecraft. However, the most stressful game within the selection was Dark Souls 3, where "participant heart rates peaked as high as 127 BPM – a 98.44% increase on the group baseline resting rate of 64 BPM." This increase occurred during the Darkeater Midir boss fight, which is considered one of the toughest boss fights of the Ringed City DLC for Dark Souls 3.

There were few surprises

Fall Guys reached second place on the list's most stressful games, with heart rates increasing by as much as 93.11%. Although the game has faltered in popularity against Among Us, which was also within the selection of tested games, it evidently remains an intense experience.

Mario Kart was named the third most stressful video game. Although BonusFinder didn't specify the Mario Kart iteration it used for the experiment, there was a peak heart rate increase of 73.44%. While this may turn some heads at first, this comes as little surprise considering Mario Kart's gameplay involves peril around every corner and that maintaining first place can be very intense with the devastating existence of the hated blue Spiny Shells.

Street Fighter and FIFA Football came in at fourth and fifth place, respectively, with unspecified iterations of both series. Within BonusFinder's experiment, Street Fighter caused gamers' heart rates to spike as much as 71.88%, while FIFA raised gamers' heart rates by as high as 67.19%. These spikes make sense due to the competitive nature of both series

The stress-free side of gaming

BonusFinder also named the most stress-free games within the experiment, with those being Animal Crossing: New Horizons, Skyrim, and an unspecified iteration of The Sims. All three titles decreased "participant average heart rates throughout the course of a 30-minute session, by as much as 5%."

The Sims and Animal Crossing: New Horizons, as many players can attest to, are stress-free life simulators that are conducive to de-stressing through their low levels of intensity and design that allows gamers to play at their own pace. Animal Crossing: New Horizons' ability to de-stress was particularly significant for the game's success upon release during the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused Nintendo's sales to increase exponentially.

In Skyrim, this makes sense given there is a degree of calming exploration and cathartic moments of downtime. However, the game is never short on action and still provides players with moments of sheer intensity, so its inclusion among de-stressing games will likely raise some eyebrows.