There may be a stigma with gaming. At times, the greater culture associates gaming with addiction, anger outbursts, and interpersonal problems. As a person from the gaming community, I acknowledge how real these concerns are. Our culture is drenched in technology, and it’s very difficult to separate from video games. Gaming and technology will most likely stay with us for a long time, so there are some ways to maneuver these waters. I’ve asked hundreds of gamers, and thought about some reasons why I enjoyed gaming in the past. Here are some things that might help you connect with the gamer in your life.
Some statistics on gaming
34 years old:The average gamer
39 years old: The average age of most frequent game purchasers
12 years: The average number of years adult gamers have been playing computer or video games
40% of all gamers are female
(24 hours a week)
Addicted gamers play twice as much as casual gamers (http://www.video-game-addiction.org/)
155 million Americans play video games
1) The Purpose of Gaming
- Some of us game to relieve stress or do things we cannot do in “real life,” like shoot a gun, or build fantastic castles out of stone.
- It can feel very accomplishing to finish a level, puzzle, or quest in games. When the outside world is difficult, games can help boost confidence to move forward.
- There can also be a social connection in games that cannot be obtained otherwise. Games can bring people together to create community, common goals, and support.
- The American Psychological Association shared findings where oxytocin (aka the love drug) is released when gamers play with peers. It is the same hormone released when we hug.
2) Ask Us Questions
- Being interested in a gamer’s world can help relieve tension on talking about problematic gaming. Perhaps the conversation will lead to a better understanding of how important games are in a person’s life.
- Look for themes in character and game choice. Asking questions about a gamer’s favorites can also help understand what is important in the gamer’s life.
- Speaking with a counselor can help with this process if it’s too difficult to start. (*wink wink*)
3) It is a Hobby
Just like football or ballet, playing video games is a hobby. Sometimes our loved ones have hobbies we don’t like, and we still love them any ways. A way to support our loved one who games is to view the activity like other hobbies. It can take some time to adjust, and setting schedules to play can be part of this adjustment.
4) Limitations are Healthy
There are so many hours in the day, and chores and other responsibilities are part of time management. When gaming becomes problematic, (gaming too many hours a day, emotional outbursts when losing, anger when asked to stop playing), relationships, school and/or work can suffer.
Talking about reasonable times to play, and expectations for contributing to the family can help increase positive interactions with gaming. (Behavior charts and time tables with kiddos can be useful visuals and reminders)
5) Play with Us
Games are meant to entertain, teach new skills, and connect us with others across the globe. Sometimes it’s not a preferred hobby for a loved one, but there are some things we will not be enthusiastic about, and that’s okay.
In addition to sitting with and watching our loved ones play (like watching them play soccer or perform in dance), we can try to play with them. Maybe we can learn to like what they like (at the very least, start to understand), and explore a world of creativity we haven’t stepped into before.
Rule of thumb for gaming:
Casual gamers play 3-10 hours a week. Game addicts may play up to 24 hours a week. (http://www.video-game-addiction.org/)
Signs of possible gaming problems:
- Arguments (yelling and/or fighting) continuously come up when the gamer is asked to stop gaming
- Lying about how much time is being spent gaming
- Increased irritability, feelings of sadness, or lack of interest in other activities
- Extreme anger outbursts when losing games
- Relationships are ignored with gaming
- The quality of school or professional work decreases dramatically, or lack of motivation to do any work
- Sleep, eating, and hygiene is neglected to game
- Oversleeping and gaming through the day
- Constantly talking and thinking about the game for prolonged periods of time
If it's still difficult after a few weeks of trying these five things out, give me a call to see how I can help. I'm in the Orange County, CA area and love working with gamers and their loved ones.
Boonie Sripom, MA, MFTI Registered Marriage & Family Therapist Intern IMF#78298 (Supervision by Jen McNally LMFT#49598)
(949) 381-1894 | Services
To learn more about the gaming world, click HERE.
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