Gamer relationship hack: Reinforce desired behaviours

Do not positively reinforce this.

(Image Source: Acero Tiburon)

Your gamer may often make choices that, uh… conflict with your preferences. But, more often than not, there may be an opportunity to tweak their choices and find a comfortable medium for the both of you – you just need to approach it in the right way.

Let’s take the above comic for example. I get the feeling that if this comic had a fourth panel, it would be filled with a lot of censored words coming from the female. I’m sure for many Partners of Gamers out there, verbal and/or physical abuse may be the first reaction for them too.

But, if you would be so kind as to humour me for one moment, wouldn’t it be wacky to reinforce the good behaviour rather than punishing the bad? Crazy, right? Perhaps so crazy… that it could work?

It’s simple stuff. It’s like training a puppy or small child (no offence to the gamers). If you see a behaviour from your partner that you like, praise them. Make them associate the good decisions with good results. It’s better for your blood pressure and better for their sanity. Win win win.

Okay, here’s a scenario to test if you’ve understood the concept…

Your gamer partner jumped onto their computer straight after dinner and has already been playing raiding with their buddies for two hours. Their current game finally finishes. They take off their headset, peels themselves off their chair, stumbles towards the bed, shrugs and says “hmm, I think I’ll stop there and come to bed”.

Should you, as the beloved partner:

A) Give an exaggerated “well duh” look, tuck yourself into bed with your back to them and mumble “you should’ve done that an hour ago” just quiet enough so you can convince yourself that you’re not starting an argument but loud enough so they hear you;

B) Smile and nod vigorously like a toddler that has just been offered some candy, smother them with kisses and make them endure the first three seasons of Sex and the City on DVD;

C) Play it cool and meet their response with a pleasant level of sweetness and appreciation

Ok, pencils down. Got your answer?

Correct response**, believe it or not, is Answer C – Play it cool.

You’re not trying to control them, you’re just giving them a nudge in the right direction. If they do something that you’d like to see more of, use some gentle reinforcement. The worst thing you could do is to muddy his vision of spending time with you, whether by yelling at them or smothering him with something else they would hate.

The controller is really in your hands. You just need to know which button combo to use :)


**NOTE: Answer has been judged on the regular circumstances between gamer and non-gamer. Answer does not apply to extreme circumstances where gamer has already been a jerk and deserves to be yelled at. Answer does not apply to relationships where gamer is fond of Sex and the City.

About author View all posts Author website


Hi, I’m Vicki and my partner is a gamer. I help bridge the divide between gamers and non-gamers. If you’d like to get in touch, you can reach me at

1 CommentLeave a comment

  • Loved the comic strip. I luck out – my wife’s a night owl too, so when I stay up playing games ridiculously late, she’s already up with me too – usually doing her own thing.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: