Video games will always have a special place in a man’s heart. Aside from entertainment, it serves as an avenue for intellectual stimulation, as well as a temporary escape from reality where he can act as an alternate version of himself: a hero with a mission, and a set of skills and powers to get it done.
This is true especially for the younger generation where the video game boom coincided with their formative years. Ask any young adult male, and for sure, they’ll always have fond memories of an old game console gathering dust in their attic.
However, like any other entertaining activity, video gaming could spiral into addiction if left unchecked. And like any form of addiction, it will prove to be harmful to one’s self and relationships. Video game addiction is seeing a huge spike with every new console released along with the more advanced “next generation” of video games.
But let’s try to be fair and try not to lynch-mob video games and the gaming industry immediately. Effectively dealing with video game addiction is a personal ordeal, and you, as the significant other, could play an important part to help your partner cope with this kind of addiction.
Note that video game addiction can affect women too, but according to studies, the proportion is lopsided and leans heavily on the male side of the population. Let us move on from the basement-dwelling gamer-geek stereotype and try to understand how one can deal with a partner’s gaming addiction. It could affect anyone of any age.
Casual gamers vs. video game addicts
Before you go out there and barge into his man cave and smash his console, determine whether he’s really addicted to video games or just appreciates them like a normal person does. Immediately accusing your partner of video game addiction without further information on the matter could only make things worse for the both of you.
Gamers were initially classified as either casual gamers or “hardcore” gamers. But with the popularity and mass availability of video games and gaming platforms, three categories were born. And these are:
#1 Casual gamers. Most people who appreciate video games fall into this category. They are the ones who play video games occasionally, and only for the sake of alleviating boredom or to kill time. The games that they play are usually simple, puzzle-solving types, and they are usually content with free apps from their smart phone or tablet. Spending bucks on games? No way!
#2 Passionate gamers. They are the middle ground in the gaming population. Passionate gamers hold video games as their main hobby and dedicate some of their time and resources for the purchase of gaming devices and software. They set a “gaming night” once a week to camp out in their room to play video games by themselves or with fellow passionate gamers. References to video games could be heard once in a while during conversations, and of course, there’s the occasional “geek shirt day” for them.
#3 Gaming addicts. These people are at the far end of the curve and tend to be extreme gamers. They were born to play video games, and they spend more than 5 hours every day slumped in front of their console doing their thing. All of their resources are allotted for video games. Forget new clothing and food, this guy needs to buy the latest Metal Gear installment and DLC for his PlayStation 4.
And why bother to go outside if he can barricade himself in the basement? Game addicts are also inseparable from their video games to the point that they display fits of rage if you interrupt them or a sudden technical difficulty happens with the internet connection.
What’s the difference?
To sum it up, video game addicts sacrifice all other life aspects just to support their addiction. Video games consume time and resources, and these are the red flags in determining if your partner is a game addict. As mentioned, they prioritize their gaming above all else.
So a video game addict would prefer to play his PS4 rather than spend time with you or the kids. They will even skip meals *or eat while playing* and forego sleep, just to play video games. As a result, their relationships, career, school, and bank accounts get horribly affected.
How to deal with your partner’s video game addiction
Again, the solution isn’t smashing his console to bits or cancelling his World of Warcraft subscription. As with most relationship problems, the solution lies in communication, patience, and techniques to wean him from his video game addiction.
#1 Talk. The first step in addressing the problem is to make your feelings known to him. Set a time for you to talk, and tell him that it is of the greatest importance to your relationship. Try to be calm as much as possible and don’t get too nagging or confrontational, unless you want to escalate it into an argument.
Make it a point that you’re not against his video games and that your main concern is on how little time he spends with you and your relationship. Play with your words a bit, and don’t antagonize his hobby. It is also important to explain your point thoroughly. Enumerate the instances on how his addiction manifests, like how he forgot your anniversary, a dinner, or the fact that he had to pick up the kids from school. Be objective yet firm, so that he’ll realize that you certainly have a point in what you’re saying.
#2 Wean him from his controller. You’d better do this in baby steps. Hiding his games, throwing them away, or destroying them are not good ideas, even as a last resort. Replace his game time with something that both of you will enjoy. For example, if he’s really into Assassin’s Creed, you might want to introduce him to actual free running. Or if he’s the first-person shooter type of guy, you could try laser tag, paintball, or airsoft.
Not only will you spend time together, you also get the chance to get your partner out of his gaming room, while allowing him to shed the weight he gained from sitting all day. Choose an activity that simulates his game, but on a real-life level. The point is to make him realize that spending time with you is better than welding himself to the couch all day playing video games.
#3 Make a mutually-beneficial agreement. Killing the habit does not happen overnight, and you can’t ask him to go cold turkey on his video games. Try to come up with an agreement where both parties will be satisfied. Set a schedule for his games and for your relationship. Maybe you can allow him one gaming night where he can play his video games undisturbed, and for the rest of the weekend, he’s all yours.
This would be easily accepted as it is fair and reasonable for both of you. Once you’ve established the schedule and he’s comfortable with it, push the frontier little by little, until he becomes a passionate gamer instead of a gaming addict.
#4 Never join him in his hobby. Some self-help materials would suggest that if you will join him in playing video games, the problem would be solved. On the contrary, this is you succumbing to the problem, and you’ll only be reinforcing his habit. Ignoring the problem wouldn’t help either. Again, the main objective is to get him to focus more on the relationship and your activities as a couple or family rather than his video games.
#5 Come up with surprise dates. The first thing you need to do is to take note of his gaming schedule. Usually, this happens at night, so no one will be there to bother him. Try to disrupt his routine by coming up with unconventional dates.
Once you notice that he’s about to retreat to his man cave, ask him to go out for a night ride or a drink at the bar. Or if you’re not the drinking type, go out to get some snacks or some takeout. This will break his routine while you discover a simple new activity that both of you could enjoy.
If the tips above do nothing, then it may be time to bring out the big guns.
#6 Seduce him. Using the same formula as #5, once you see that he’s about to start playing video games, surprise him by barging into his man cave wearing your sexiest lingerie, or if you’re bold enough, nothing at all.
Take him away from the dreaded cave and send him to a paradise that no skimpily-clad Tekken chick could provide. However, use only sparingly, as it loses its potency with frequent use. This tactic is classical conditioning where you reinforce bonding with you as opposed to playing video games.
#7 Go on a sex strike. In contrast to the previous item, if his addiction still persists, go on a sex strike. The idea is not to deprive him indefinitely, but to punish him by withholding sex if he broke your agreed upon schedule or another chore that he forgot to do because of video games.
Going Lysistrata should also be used sparingly and decisively. Boycott sex when he’s at his horniest, otherwise, he’ll just go back to the comforts of his console.
#8 Seek professional help. Believe it or not, there are professional marriage and relationship counselors who specialize in video game-related relationship problems. If the problem is too difficult for you to handle or if you’ve exhausted all your options, I suggest taking the advice of a professional to address his video game addiction. This type of service would cost you time and money, but if you’re really determined to set things right, why not try?
While video games are generally harmless, video game addiction could pose a big problem if not addressed properly. The answer to your guy’s video game problem is to build your relationship on mutual experience, so that you find activities where you both can share the enjoyment.