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How To: Address their gaming (in the least aggressive way possible)

(Image Source: The New Yorker - Cartoon by David Sipress)

(Image Source: The New Yorker – Cartoon by David Sipress)

Partners of Gamers, imagine this:

Your partner is spending less and less time hanging out with you, and more and more time glued to their stupid game. They’re just going through a phase… it’s just a new game, right? You’ve been waiting it out, trying to play the cool, understanding partner. Surely they’re going to snap out of it soon enough and be right back at your side like when you first started dating… but it’s already been days.. weeks.. months. You’ve made little jokes about it here and there, telling your partner how much you hate their games but also packing on the sarcasm so you can pass it off as a joke in case they don’t take it well. But sarcasm or not, you’ve told them. Surely you shouldn’t need to have to say it much clearly than that. After all, it’s just a silly game. But what if they never change? You know you’re going to snap if you don’t talk to them about it properly, but you know they’re not going to take it well.

Sound familiar? If you are in a relationship with a gamer, particularly if you are a non-gamer, it’s likely that at some stage in your relationship, their hobby will become the spotlight of one or more arguments between the two of you. Before long, you will need to address that humongous elephant in the room (the humongous gaming elephant). To all the Partners of Gamers at near breaking point over your spouse’s gaming, this is for you. In this post, I’m sharing some of my communication tips to help you have The Chat. I’ve gathered these tips over the years, some of which I have learnt through observations, others I have learnt the hard way through my own high pressure chats with my gamer (and survived to tell the tale).

When it comes to talking about their gaming and how it affects your relationship, communication is so important. Let your partner know that their behaviour is affecting you, but try to go in with a decent game plan to give yourself and your partner the best chance at working through the situation. It is definitely possible to come to resolution without either party getting angry or upset. Here are some of my tips:

Tip 1: Pick the right time.

Timing is everything. If you pick the wrong time to bring up the issue, the conversation could be a failure before you’ve even gotten your first word in. You know your partner better than I do – try to think about their schedule and try to pick a time when they have minimal distractions and maximum levels of patience, for instance:

  • Not mid game
  • Not just before bedtime or a meal
  • Not as soon as he comes home after a stressful day at work
  • Not when either of your emotions are already high

Tip 2: Be clear and honest about what the problem is.

While it may be easy enough to use “video games” as a blanket excuse for all your relationship problems, don’t do it. As well as being a bit of a cop out, it is probably very confusing for your partner. Even if you think your reactions have been very clear, don’t assume they understand exactly how you feel and why.

Before you approach your partner about the problem, take some time to narrow down how their gaming is affecting you. For example, is the problem that you are feeling a lonely because your partner doesn’t spend as much time with you as they used to? Are you frustrated because they go to play video games before helping with their share of the housework? Tell them.

Also be careful not to make assumptions about their gaming and what this means in the context of your relationship, e.g. Don’t say “you choosing gaming over me must mean you don’t like spending time with me”, because it’s likely that your assumption is way off the mark and, if so, could come across as insulting.

Tip 3: Tone down on the aggressive tone.

While I’m sure it may be a very frustrating topic for you, try not to let it show. The more aggressive you are, the more defensive your partner will be and the less you’re going achieve a positive outcome from the conversation. This means:

  • Never start with “We need to talk”
  • Avoid the A word (Addiction)
  • Avoid ‘you’ statements
  • Avoid ultimatums, particularly when you are not serious about your threat

Tip 4: Offer suggestions.

So go figure, apparently just saying “STOP PLAYING YOUR GAAAAAMES SOOOO MUCH!!” won’t be enough to convince them to stop. If you’re expecting your partner to stop or reduce their behaviour, your argument will be stronger if you can back it up with some decent alternatives for them to consider.

For instance, say you are trying to convince them to reduce their game time and spend more couples time together, perhaps try to scheduling in regular date nights that fits both your routines. It may be making sure you both enjoy a movie night together at least once a week, or cooking dinner together on Mondays and Wednesdays.

Tip 5: Be ready to compromise.

Just remember, it’s not you vs. them – the two of you are working on this together, and it’s something that affects both of you. When trying to think of a solution, try to consider how each option will affect not only you, but also your partner. For instance, if you intend for them to cut down on your gaming time, this could potentially mean that you’re cutting out their stress reliever or their means for socialising with their friends. Finding a solution is not about coming up with something that gives you the upper hand. Compromise.

When trying to find a way forward, it is likely that none of the ideas will initially make both parties completely happy. Don’t be so quick to reject every suggestion from your partner, and hopefully they won’t be doing the same with your ideas. If you can’t come to an agreement, perhaps trial a few different options, for example, try your idea for one month, then try your partner’s idea and then go from there.

Tip 6: Afterwards, notice the changes.

Once you’ve had your chat, just remember to be patient. Even if your partner completely understands your point of view and fully intends to make some decent changes for the sake of the relationship, it’s not necessarily going to be a smooth transition.

During this time, it can be easy for us to pick out what they aren’t doing right – this is called Selective Attention. We may be subconsciously looking out for all the usual bad behaviours from our partner just so we can catch them out, while at the same time, failing to recognise all the positive changes. Make sure you look out for the occasions where your partner is clearly trying to work on things, and be sure to let them know how much you appreciate it.

Tip 7: At the end of the day, look out for Y-O-U.

Always, always remember to look out for yourself. As much as I love supporting relationships with gamers, you need to learn to distinguish that fine line between a healthy compromise and just conceding. Sometimes couples can happily work things out with a bit of communication and mutual respect, and other times, it’s just not meant to be and that’s fine. The point of the communication is to find the best outcome for the two of you, don’t forget that.

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I hope these tips are of some use to you couples out there. Good luck and happy communicating :)

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Benefits of Gaming #015 – They make you happy when skies are grey

(Image Source: Paperbeatsscissors)

Princess problems (Image Source: Paperbeatsscissors)

Just Google “video games” and “depression” and you’ll get hit with a bunch of articles linking the two. Some discussions claim that video games cause depression, while others reason that depressed individuals are just more drawn to video games. While the causality of it may be unclear, it’s apparent that many people suffering from depression do seek comfort in video games.

For many people with depression, gaming becomes their coping mechanism. Different people find video games effective for different reasons – some may just use it as a distraction, while others may engross themselves so far into a game’s fantasy world because that’s where they feel safe and in control. In an article for Pixel Enemy, blogger Williams Pelegrin describes the way video games have helped him to improve his thought process and, in turn, keep his darker parts of depression at bay:

…While playing video games, I realize that, in the long scheme of things, such negative events that contribute to my low self-esteem and self-confidence are inconsequential because they no longer matter in different settings.

…The expectation is never there for you to fail, for you to feel sorry for yourself. There is always a way to clear those hurdles, to overcome any negative occurrences that might take place.

…Knowing this, I have been able to tackle my negative thoughts in an improved manner… Now, I expect myself to find different ways to turn my negative thoughts and self-hurt into something that is productive and positive. It doesn’t always work, and at times, I even wonder how the hell I can do such a thing, but at least I’m trying.

The below video from GameSpot shares some personal insights into how video games have helped other individuals through depression:

Researchers like the team at the Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre are looking for that positive link between gaming and depression. Their review of  over 200 papers discussing the correlation video games and wellbeing suggested that moderate gamers generally showed lower depressed moods than non-gamers.You can read the whole study here (pdf).

More recently, clever researchers and game designers have taken this a step further and started to develop games aimed at helping people recover from depression. Take this recent research from New Zealand for example, where they have created a fantasy game called SPARX designed specifically to help people overcome their condition using cognitive behavioural techniques. Results found that playing the video game was just as effective as face-to-face treatment for depression. Studies such as this open up the floor to further studies and more positive game development in the future.

Don’t forget though, everybody is different. Video games may act as an effective coping mechanism for some, and generally when played in moderation. And perhaps most importantly, depression and other mental illnesses should be tackled from multiple angles and it’s best to seek professional advice. Take care of yourselves, guys.

p.s. For those out there who are suffering from depression, there is lots of help out there:

  • Australia: Lifeline 13 11 14
  • United States: National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1800 231 TALK
  • United Kingdom: Samaritans 08457 90 90 90
  • Hotlines for other countries

 ♫ ♪… So please don’t take my video games away… ♫ ♪

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Game Face Tip #016 – Let him have his man cave

Image Source: All Posters

The smells alone are enough to scar you for life. (Image Source: All Posters)

Over the past few weeks, my partner and I have been busy moving into our new place (yay!) and after what has seemed like an eternity, we have finally gotten our internet all hooked up (double yay!). This means we are both back to our old routine again: me blogging and him gaming.

During this time, The Boy has been busily perfecting his designated gaming area in the apartment, which seemed like the perfect time for me to discuss guys and the importance of their man caves. While this topic is not limited to gaming guys, I’m guessing most readers’ partners will be using their man cave to house their gaming devices.

Man Cave n. [Informal]
A room or other area in a home that is primarily a male sanctuary, designed and furnished to accommodate the man’s recreational activities and hobbies: e.g. I hadn’t heard from or seen my partner in ages. It turns out he had just been gaming in his man cave.

Why do they need one? If you and your partner live together, it’s likely that they already have established their own ‘male sanctuary’, or at least expressed their desire for one. Now don’t worry, his interest in a man cave does not mean that he likes you any less or finds you boring or is feeling smothered, he just wants some space to call his own. While I’m sure you both enjoy one another’s company, it is still important for the both of you to have your own personal space.

When my partner and I first started living together a few years ago, I’m sure he noticed the sudden appearance of make-up and other products on the bathroom sink, the increase of clothes and shoes in the wardrobe, the ever-lingering floral air freshener scents… sharing his space with a female would have taken some adjustment and I’m sure he may still find it a little overwhelming at times. I like that his gaming area is his own space, where he doesn’t have to worry about all that stuff. In our new home, his space is more of a man corner. In a cozy apartment, it’s pretty difficult to fit much in at all, but which is why it is all the more important that he gets his own designated area within this small space. If he needs a place to de-stress after work, a place to recharge, a place to relax and enjoy his games and Reddit videos in peace, he can zone out in his zone.

What are the rules of the man cave? The man cave is truly his area. General rules of cleanliness and hygiene do not apply in the man cave. Also, do not try to force your femininity into his area – if you’re really sneaky, you might be able to ninja in a spray of air freshener every now and then (but if you get caught, I never told you to do it). Spouses and children permitted by appointment only.

How he chooses to decorate and develop the space is up to him – they can range from the simple right up to the extreme man caves. The point is, he can do whatever he wants with that space – it’s his retreat (not yours!). For gamers, it will probably be where they set up their console or gaming PC. It may also give you gamer a place to stash all his retro games and geeky memorabilia. My partner is currently on the hunt for the perfect Zelda poster to finish off his corner.

And most importantly, what are the benefits for you? A man cave will hopefully mean a happier man. He gets to chill out in a space that is his and that he is proud of. If that wasn’t enough incentive, also consider that the more his belongings and behaviours are limited to this designated space, the less likely these things are likely to encroach on the rest of your living space. Specifically on the topic of gaming, this means that the majority of his raging and incessant mouse and keyboard clicking stays in his area. And by allowing him to have his own space to maintain, he will probably be less critical of your intentions to decorate around the rest of the house. He won’t flinch at that next candle/vase/fruit bowl purchase, as long as it doesn’t have to go in his cave.

So let him have his cave and let him enjoy it. While he’s in his cave, that means the rest of the house is yours!

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My fiancé is a gamer.

Just perfect :)

My dear readers,

I don’t usually get too personal on this blog, but I think that all of you out there have had just as much insight into my love life as many of my IRL friends, so I’m just as excited to be sharing my news with you.

Firstly, I must apologise for neglecting you in recent times, but as the title of this post may suggest, I’m hoping I have a good enough excuse!

My gorgeous partner (and muse for this blog) proposed to me over the weekend! <3

*excited squeal*

It was a really special moment, with plenty of tears from me throughout the day – I’m a very lucky girl.

And to top it all off, the two of us will be moving into our very own brand spanking new apartment in the next fortnight. So exciting and busy times all ’round.

I just wanted to take this chance to thank you all for reading and being so supportive of this blog. And special thanks to those who have shared their personal experiences and opinions with me through comments, emails, tweets, etc. It’s comforting to know there are so many of you out there in a similar situation to me, and it’s the best feeling to know that I am actually having a positive effect on some of your relationships.

While it may seem like I’m the one dealing out the relationship advice, I must say that your stories have really helped put a lot of things into perspective in my own relationship, and for the better, so thank you.

You guys are the best.

Vicki xx

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Tips for Gamers #005 – Warn us of game-induced bad moods

Pretty soon, everyone will be in a bad mood (Image Source: GoComics)

Pretty soon, everyone will be in a bad mood (Image Source: GoComics)

There are certain things that make my partner cranky, for example:

  • When our housemate’s puppy pees on our bed
  • When he’s stuck in the slowest lane in peak hour traffic, then changes lanes, only for that lane to become the slower one
  • When he gets a bad night’s rest because I’ve accidentally been kicking him in my sleep
  • Any time he is hungry

Another well documented frustration-inducing event is when he suffers a consecutive string of losses in his games.

It’s often easy for me to tell when this happens as he’s very visibly disheartened. Often a slither off a rage quit, he lets out noises similar to that if I were to repeatedly run over his toe with his computer chair. When he’s like this, it’s clear that I should give him his space and perhaps not ask him how his game went.

At other times, however, it’s a little trickier to tell. While he may be growing increasingly frustrated on the inside, he remains composed on the outside. I’m completely oblivious to the raging between his teammates coming from his headset, let alone the personal deconstruction of the losses happening in his own head.

Now gamers, if you have just come off a few bad losses, that’s okay. If the other team was just way better, if your teammates were feeding, if you hit the wrong button at the wrong time, that’s fine – take a moment to be frustrated. If you need some time to get back into your happy place, that’s completely understandable. Just please let your significant other know.

If you give your partner a heads up, then they can cut you a little slack if you’re not your usual self, even if it’s just momentarily while the pain of the loss fades. When I know my partner has had a few unlucky games, I might give him a few minutes to himself so he can cheer up with cat videos. Just as I try to flag the days where I’m feeling particularly “emotional” (i.e. days where I want to be curled up in bed crying, eating chocolate and watching Ryan Gosling movies), a quick “Hey sweety, just so you know, I’ve had a pretty frustrating run with games” from my partner can go a long way.

Most importantly, if you don’t warn us, if any of that frustration carries over to your interactions with us, we may come to the conclusion that we have done something to influence your bad mood. And that’s when it gets personal and unpleasant for all parties involved. When that happens, I am only willing to accept responsibility for a small portion of my resultant grumpiness.

I admit there have been a few times in the past where I have been a caught off guard by my partner’s sudden change in demeanour (I guess you could say I saw de-meaner side of him #seewhatididthere), which I later found out was a result of a few League of Legends losses directly beforehand. I’m slowly training him to give me the heads up whenever this happens, so I won’t have to bring my cranky pants out to play. So please, let your partner know – they will appreciate it. Communication is the key.

Oh, just a final note. A string of losses is not an adequate justification to play another game just “so you can end on a win”. I’m not stupid. I know that there’s an equally likely chance that you’ll also lose the next one too, and the next one after that, and end up even crankier before. We’re not going to continue this silly cycle all night. Go to sleep.

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Check out: “The Perfect Non-Gamer Girl”

Naww. I’m a sucker for a nice gamer + non-gamer love story.

I recently read this sweet post by Robert Rath about his soon-to-be wife, Danielle, and the wonderful side she brings to their relationship as a non-gamer. I think this is a perfect example of how gamer/non-gamer relationships can work, and work really well.

Danielle isn’t interested in playing games, so I know our relationship will never carry over to a multiplayer server somewhere, just like she knows that I’ll likely never be a talented enough musician to for a jazz duo…

…We do, however, talk about games a lot. Like any good partners, we want to know what each other are up to. I’ll ask how her work and Yoga classes are going, and she shows an interest in what I’m playing. She reads my column with pleasure. Though she’s never played BioShock or Call of Duty, we’ll discuss the controversies surrounding them over pasta. She’s brilliant at it. Most of the time she crafts better arguments and makes better points than half the game journalists I know, because unburdened by the culture, history and prejudices of gaming, she asks different questions than they would and draws different conclusions.

Rath goes on to explain how his partner’s questions and opinions encourage him to consider his own views of his games, whilst also helping improve the way he explains video games to non-gamers. I love that in this relationship, video games is not just something that exists peacefully in their relationship, but it is something that enhances it.

For my partner and I, while I may not offer the same level of deep analyses that Rath’s fiancé presents, I have experienced the great benefits to a relationship when gamers are able to discuss their hobby with their non-gaming spouse. Gaming is a whole culture that I am only just learning about, and that my partner loves immensely and enjoys discussing. I don’t really think I’ll ever find any enjoyment in playing the games that my partner plays, but I do enjoy learning about them. As well as occasionally watching him play League of Legends, I often join him while he watches pro players’ streams or eSports tournaments. Many lazy Saturday mornings have been spent snuggled up in bed together with coffees watching the latest LoL Tournament, cheering on our favourite teams. I learn about the champions, the items, the positions. I test myself by memorising pro players and the positions they play (as well as random trivia about their personal lives, just for kicks). I will ask about the strategy behind the game and I’m always delighted when my questions to him are met by “You know what, that’s a good question…”, as I know I have graduated from my standard overexcited questions to those requiring some decent thought and understanding of the game.

The best part about our gaming discussions is that it benefits both of us. Not only do video games present a whole new topic for us to discuss when we’ve grown tired of talking about work, family or the other usual stuff, but it helps me better understand and appreciate his hobby, which in turn, is more comforting for him. Rath nicely describes:

After all, we don’t play games with our fingers, we play them with our minds. So even if I don’t play games with the woman I love, when we share the ideas games impart, and enrich each other’s understanding of the medium, in a way we’re sharing some of the best games have to offer.

Please do take a moment to check out the full article here at The Escapist . I think gamers and non-gamers alike can take something positive away from this.

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Game Face Tip #015 – Let him play, without the guilt trip

The best kind of trip. (Image Source: Etsy)

The best kind of trip. (Image Source: Etsy)

This post is specifically targeted at Three-Years-Ago Me. Three-Years-Ago Me had recently discovered the true extent of her partner’s gaming hobby and had decided that she would be totally cool and reasonable about it. Little did she know, she was not yet past the Bargaining Stage of the gamer/non-gamer relationship and she felt that her being totally cool and reasonable meant that he owed her big time later on. Payment was accepted in the form of watching chick flicks and giving hugs on demand.

Oh, silly Three-Years-Ago Me. It was only later on that I realised that there is a difference between me putting up with him gaming and me actually being supportive of his hobby. Where I thought I was being reasonable and accepting, I was really just continually biting my tongue, laying on the guilt trips, occasionally losing my patience when I felt I had tolerated enough, and all the while, never actually accepting his hobby at all.

I don’t want to discount the fact that even putting up with a partner’s hobby can be a big step for many people in relationships with gamers, particularly for non-gamers who are new to the quirks of the gaming lifestyle. But acceptance is more of a continuum – while “putting up with his gaming” is a fair way away from “console-destroying psycho girlfriend“, if you can make it to that next level of “blissful understanding and acceptance”, it’s a much more pleasant way to live.

Take a moment to think about it from the gamer’s perspective. It’s like when you were a kid and you tried to sneak cartoons in when you were supposed to be doing your homework. While cartoons are awesome and one of your favourite pastimes, you are constantly living in fear that your mum will come in, yell at you for watching and take away your TV privileges. Kinda takes the fun out of it, right? Imagine instead if your mum said “Oh Pumpkin, Power Rangers is starting soon, you don’t want to miss it”. What a joy it would be to be given that guilt-free TV time!

Now, I’m not saying that you have to be okay with it all the time. There are still plenty of days where I think my gamer should really be doing something else, and I tell him (nicely, of course). These kinds of relationships still work both ways and rely on both the gamers and the non gamers to be reasonable. But, on those other days where the world will definitely not come crashing down if he plays a game or two, just let him be, and throw in a simple “good luck, have fun!” for good measure. Or, if he’s just gotten home from work after a tough day, perhaps suggest that he chill and enjoy his video games for a bit. Let him play, with your blessing. He’ll appreciate it.

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Things to do while your partner is gaming #006 – Baking baking baking!

Super-cute cookie cutters by WarpZone (Image Source: Etsy)

Super-cute cookie cutters from the guys at WarpZone (Image Sources: Etsy)

Baking really takes the cake. Seriously, it’s one of my favourite things to do. Even if my partner didn’t play *cough… way too many* video games, I’d still be busying myself with baking. If you don’t already bake, give it a dough… I mean, give it a go.

If you want to give your baking a geeky touch, you could buy some awesome cookie cutters from WarpZone - They have cutters for everything: MarioDr Who, even Game of Thrones family crests. Just make sure you have these Pac Man oven mitts ready to take them out of the oven.

Me, I much prefer baking with what I refer to as a “lucky dip” technique. If I’m making cookies, I’ll throw together any kind of cookie-like ingredients in there, sculpt the dough into rough balls and BAKE, MY PRETTIES!! I would compare my cookies to cloud watching – it’s like “”oooh, that cookie kind of looks like an elephant.. and, if you squint a little, this one looks like my grandma”. But as long as you’ve got a lot of butter and a lot of chocolate in there, it’s bound to taste good.

Should you need any inspiration, this is my favourite, favourite baking blog of all time: raspberri cupcakesOne day, I’ll make macarons as beautiful as these.

But seriously, if you’re prone to getting frustrated at your partner’s gaming, baking will make you forget all that. Here’s why:

  • Time flies when you’re baking – by the time you’ve completed a batch of yummy cupcakes, he’ll have gotten a lot of the gaming out of his system.
  • You will make such a mess of the kitchen that it’ll outweigh the mess your gamer has previously made and neglected to clean up (haaaaa…).
  • As you finish baking, the smell of your yummy dessert will be increasingly difficult for your gamer to ignore – he will be drawn to leave his console to reap the delicious rewards.
  • Offering your partner some of your cookies/cakes/macarons/cupcakes/etc. at the end of it all will get you serious brownie points (pun a little bit intended).

Happy baking!

This is you. (Image Source: Pusheen the Cat)

FYI, this will be you. (Image Source: Pusheen the Cat)

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Benefits of Gaming #014 – They make old people happy

The next big game from Maxis: SimKnitty (Image Source: TheFunnyInbox)

The next big game from Maxis: SimKnitty (Image Source: TheFunnyInbox)

I’m always a sucker for old people studies.

Some clever folks at North Carolina State Uni suggest that older adults who play video games report greater emotional functioning than those who don’t play. The team studied a bunch of 63-year-old-and-beyond people, looked at how often they played video games, and compared that to various aspects of their psychological functioning. The Regular and Occasional Gamers reported higher levels of well being and lower negative affect and depression than their non-gaming counterparts. Now, I’m understand that the definition of ‘video game’ is probably not limited to MMORPGs or first-person shooters and would probably include tamer games, but you get the point.

There have been plenty of other studies that look at the ways video games can benefit the elderly, and on top of that, they have been used to enhance video game design specifically aimed at the older population. Research suggests that certain video games may help improve the balance of the elderlyassist in their rehabilitation and, as Olivia Newton-John informs me, keep their brains active.

This gorgeous lady below is Kit, a 100-year-old Nintendo DS lover. Now, I really hope this isn’t just a clever ad by Nintendo, but either way, Kit’s just adorable:

My grandfather has always loved his games. He really loves this little handheld Tetris-like game, which he’s had for longer than I can remember. Recently, my cousin introduced my grandparents to games on the iPad, and now they know their way around it better than I do! I get warm fuzzies watching them play with such enjoyment and then looking quite chuffed when they advance levels.

So keep gaming into your golden years, gamers. I like to think that when my partner and I are old and wrinkly, his gamer’s brain will still be active enough to do the thinking for the both of us. My brain is pretty screwer unless some researcher proves that watching trashy TV shows also keeps brains active..? One can only hope.

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Tips for Gamers #004 – Don’t try to hide your hobby

Gamers, stand proud. (Image Source: myboyfriendisagamer)

Gamers, stand proud. (Image Source: myboyfriendisagamer)

I was recently chatting with a friend who was contemplating moving in with his girlfriend of around a year. He was generally feeling pretty positive about the situation, except for one thing:

I’m going to have to tell her about my gaming.

Oh dear. Why is this even a thing? How had their relationship gotten so far without her knowing about his greatest hobby? And how had it gotten to the point where he was worrying about his two favourite pastimes crossing paths?

I must admit, even in the early stages of my current relationship, gaming was a bit of an unspoken topic. I had already known him for quite a while, but I only really found out about my partner’s habit after a mutual friend asked me if I knew about his computer games. What?! What did that even mean? Why was it that important that it needed be specifically discussed? Why didn’t he already tell me?  This must be bad. Suddenly, something very normal, became somewhat of a worry.

It seems like even on a broader level, people are ashamed to admit they like video games. For example, most of my friends are ready to profess their love for football, rock climbing, or watching and rewatching every single Nicholas Cage movie to date, but video games, that’s another story. That’s one of the topics that I find that very few are willing to bring up voluntarily. If someone is brave enough to bring it up first, then sure, they can chat about video games all day, but it seems to take a brave person to admit that they are a gamer. From what I can tell, the age old stigma of the typical geeky, antisocial gamer is still that strong that gamers are even too ashamed to share their hobby with their friends, let alone their significant other.

The more you worry, though, the bigger the problem it will become. If you hide your hobby from your girlfriend/boyfriend right from the start, it will just get harder and harder to bring it up. And the longer you drag it on, the more it will become That Thing That They Don’t Know About.

As someone from the non-gamer side, all I can do is to encourage you to share your hobby with the ones you love, and share it early. If you continue to keep your partner and your gaming as mutually exclusive events, then this creates a Me vs The Games situation for them, and they have no choice but to feel threatened.

And do not speak disparagingly of your hobby or shrug it off as “some stupid thing you just do when you’re bored”. If you want people to respect your love of gaming, you need to show some respect for it too. Footy fans are rarely ashamed of their obsession – they’ll defend their team and their sport no end. Why should gaming be any different? The gamer stigma will never disappear if gamers themselves are ashamed of their hobby.

Also, as I’ve explained before (see Tips for Gamers #001), if your partner is not a gamer, they may not have that same immediate appreciation for games, so be patient when you’re sharing your hobby. It may be that the only thing they know about video games is the nasty stereotypes that go along with it, so you’ll have to be patient and break through that barrier first. It will be so worth it. And worst case, even if after all that your partner still does not appreciate your hobby for what it is, at least you know early on and can take suitable action, whatever that may be.

Someone who shares my opinion is the team at Have You Nerd in their recent article about relationships and video games. They discuss the problem of gamers who give up their lifelong hobby for a partner who doesn’t agree with gaming.

Perhaps as gamers we are used to people judging us for our interests, or that many of us are wary of conflict and will go out of our ways to avoid it in all forms. Whatever the case may be, if you or someone you know is in such a relationship I ask you to reach out to them. Don’t tell them to break up, but encourage them to make their own decisions and not feel pressured by their partners (mis?) conceptions of what their hobbies are…

…If you really love gaming and find yourself just giving it up so you can be with someone, shouldn’t you be asking what next you might be asked to sacrifice?

Or, if they loved you for who you are, would they even ask that of you?

Don’t try to hide your hobby from your partner, share it with them. Try to tell them what makes gaming so great, or better yet, show them. It’s likely that once they get a chance to learn what these games mean to you, they will understand the part that games play in your life and appreciate that.

Gamers out there, are you ashamed to tell your loved ones about your hobby? Non-gamers dating gamers, how did you find out and how did you react? I’d love to hear your stories.

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