With the number of online gamers growing steadily every year, there are plenty of people who are concerned that gamer’s responsibilities in the real world – and their relationships – are suffering as a result. On the flipside, with female gamers joining the scene in droves, and an increasing number of relationships actually being formed through online gaming, perhaps a more balanced outlook is warranted. Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons in the way online gaming can affect relationships.
The dark side of gaming
Like any behavior that creates an escape from reality, addiction is always a possibility. For most of us online gaming is just harmless fun; but others may find it difficult to step away and deal with real life issues. As with so many areas of life, moderation is the most important factor – but it isn’t always easy. According to clinical psychologists in TechAddiction (and doesn’t the fact that the title exists at all tell you something?) younger males in their teens and early twenties tend to be most at risk, but women and older men with families are by no means immune.
In fact, this January 2018 saw the World Health Organization include ‘gaming disorder’ in its 11th International Classification of Diseases documentation. The condition is described as a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behavior so severe that it takes “precedence over other life interests”.
We need to keep a sense of perspective, however. A husband or boyfriend who neglects his partner or children in favor of an online game is no different than one who spends every weekend away with his friends on fishing trips or comes home late from the bar each night. Blaming the games themselves will accomplish nothing. Any activity that gets in the way of intimacy or family time will have the same effect.
The bright side of gaming
Today’s connected world has changed our lives in countless ways, from how we communicate, to how we work and play, and even how we find potential partners and ‘court’ one another! As we spend more and more of our time online, it’s only natural that our virtual and real life realities spill over from time to time. The internet offers an unprecedented opportunity for people with similar tastes and passions to find each other; and with the right conditions, can spark romance too!
Gamer couples are a shining example of this. In a study published in the Journal of Leisure Research for example, researchers found that in couples were both partners were active gamers, 76% reported that gaming had a positive effect on their relationship. Like any shared passion, online gaming has the power to bring people closer together and create a foundation which a solid relationship can be built on. Many of these couples play in a team together, compete with one another, or partake in associated hobbies like online betting together.
Finding the balance
When online gaming is a shared passion, partners can use it as a way to spend quality time together. However, when one partner feels they are being left out or ignored because of the other’s commitment to their gaming universe, serious issues can start to arise. Finding a solution in which both partners are happy requires both parties to come together, make compromises, and most importantly – communicate what they are feeling.
If you’re the gamer in the relationship, you need to go out of your way to make sure you are giving your partner the attention they deserve. Be honest with yourself about how your contribution to the relationship might be suffering because of your hobby, and find ways to make up for it. Try and see it from the perspective of someone who just doesn’t get what all the big fuss around your favorite games is, and can’t understand why you seem to have lost all interest in them – doesn’t sound fun, right?
If you’re the non-gaming partner, consider asking your partner to introduce you to their favorite games and teach you how to play! If you find you enjoy gaming, you might just have discovered a way that you can spend some fun time together – and maybe even kick their ass from time to time! If you give it an honest shot and find is still just doesn’t float your boat, then at least you’ve made an effort and perhaps gotten a better understanding of what all the fuss is about.
Communication is always key, so try and get your partner to understand how left out you feel. Make sure to offer solutions as well as accusations – offer to leave your partner to their game uninterrupted for the rest of the evening if they will help you make dinner and eat together, for example. With compromise from both parties, there’s no reason online gaming (or any passion) needs to come between you.