JBG Rewind – Should Men Put Video Games Away As “Childish Things” For Their Wives / Girlfriends?

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I wrote this piece back in 2014. Four years later, I still do not think that this is healthy situation, no matter the hobby. – Bryan

This tale is as old as 1989.

Boy meets girl. Girl dislikes boys hobby. Boy gives up hobby for girl. Girl gives up nothing. Swap the genders; swap the roles. Rinse. Wash. Dry.

I have known countless guys who have given up their favorite hobby due to a spouse or girlfriend disapproving– I am sure that this is true for the female species as well. Once upon a time, these guys enjoyed playing video games. They used them to drop stress levels, rest, and relax. For some reason though, chemistry, the alignment of the stars, who knows, they end up coupling with someone who disapproves/looks down upon their hobby. So they have to quit, have to walk away from something they love, to be in love.

I just don’t get it. If you are in a loving relationship, your spouse or girlfriend should accept you for who you are. They shouldn’t be out to change fundamental parts that make up you. Sure, your bad habit of tossing clothes on the floor may need to be corrected, because let’s face it, your mom always cleaned up after you. Too personal? Sorry.

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Video games are often seen as a less mature hobby than following a team of guys in tight fitting clothing. Huh? How is it that working on cars, following a sports team, or going hunting are somehow more respectable and less “little boy”? A hobby is a hobby. Video games are no worse than stamp collecting. Except that unlike a stamp collection, video games deal with:

  • Complex realities
  • Connecting players through interdependent activities
  • Challenging players with complex decision making

My wife has been accepting of my hobby from the get go. She encourages me to sit down and play games. She realizes that I often use video games to de-stress. As long as I am not playing World of Warcraft (the marriage killer), I’m golden. This does not mean that I play games every day of the week. Gaming for me, married, with a kid, looks more like a couple of hours a week. Some nights, my wife even joins me. I’ve always appreciated that about her. She loves me for who I am.

I am tired of those around me feeling guilt, having to change, just to conform to the person they love. If you are in a loving healthy relationship, your significant other will understand the healthy hobbies you chose to pursue.

Note: My friend Scott reminds me that the picture I painted above is painted by an individual who is loving, mature, and self-controlled–most of the time. Video games, as with any hobby, can be distorted and abused in the hands of an undisciplined individual. In order not to feed into the video game stigma your wife/girlfriend might view the hobby through, Scott suggests setting some ground rules:

  1. Be mindful of your wife/girlfriend, even though the game demands attention.
  2. Always be ready to pause. Pretty much everything is more important than your next in-game checkpoint, so put the controller down if you need to.
  3. Tell her how long you intend to play – and stick to the plan.

No matter the hobby, communication and respect are foundational to building healthy relationships. I want to encourage you to let go of any video game guilt you might carry, set some healthy ground rules, and game on.

I also wrote a follow up piece to this from the female perspective. 

Where I am with all things video games

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JohnnyBGamer.com has been quiet for awhile now. One of those times where I feel like I have nothing to say and a lot to say at the same time. Instead of sitting down and writing though, I’ve taken the easy route and not written at all. That all changed after reading a GameChurch article by Andy Robertson titled, “Don’t Do Video Games in Church, Do Church in Video Games“.

Games aren’t worthwhile because they educate, inform, develop skills or solve problems. They are valuable because they are games.

Andy helped me realize just where I am with video games. I’m not sure if it is my age or what, but I no longer feel the need to seek validation for the hobby nor advocate for it becoming something more, specifically in the church-space. I don’t care if video games are viewed as art or if fellow Christians think the pastime is evil. I think it’s great that Andy is championing for a deeper discussion on gaming, but that is no longer me. I play what I like, when I like, and I don’t care what anyone else thinks.

I no longer identify as a gamer, at all. I am a husband, father, and friend who happens to think video games are pretty neat. At this point in my life, I might play a game a few hours a week. Gone are my multiple day/hours long gaming sessions where that is all I would do in the evening–and ignore my wife in the process–. I am not that guy anymore.

Who I am now is:

  • A dad who is concerned over how much Zelda: Breath of the Wild has taken ahold of my kid.
  • Someone who is trying to figure out what gaming looks like in my household with the Nintendo Switch. I go back and forth over how much I love the system and how much I hate it. The singleplayer games seem to dominate game time in our house. I miss the more co-op atmosphere but also realize that my son is growing up and wanting to play things by himself (and talk about those experiences).

Part of me feels old and part of me feels free when it comes to video games. The part of me that feels old is the part that feels like my parents. My wife and I trying to figure out how much is too much and how to curate/guide my son’s gameplay. The part of me that feels free is the part that no longer feels like I have something to prove. I enjoy playing games when I get the chance. No matter the difficulty setting I play on; no matter how long I end up playing per week. Video games are still cool but they do not hold the place that they once did in my life.

I needed to write that. Admit it out loud.

The Nintendo Switch is a Monster

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“I’m going to pick up my Nintendo Switch pre-order after work today.”

“Really.”

“Yeah, I didn’t get a copy of the new Zelda game with it though. So I ordered a copy on Amazon.”

“That’s cool.”

“Yeah, the new Zelda game is supposed to be the best game ever. Or at least that is what people who play games for a living are saying. I’m excited.”

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Why is the videogame hobby so much about having the new thing?

I get that hype, limited inventory, and being a part of the console honeymoon conversation are all reasons to buy in early. I get that. But why does so much of gaming feel like a bragging contest? A game of Cold War one-upmanship. Except between fellow gamers instead of The United States and Russia.

Consumerism is a social and economic order and ideology that encourages the acquisition of goods and services in ever-increasing amounts.

OR

Gotta Catch ‘Em All

Even as an adult, I feel pressure to have the latest gadgets. I don’t even want a Switch–I think it’s best to wait awhile–and talking to my co-worker this morning made me feel envious. Hyped even.

BUYING FRENZY!

And if I feel that way, how does my kid feel when it comes to stuff? How am I supposed to parent in a consumerist culture?

Firewatch and Bloodborne made me want to walk away from gaming

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Firewatch and Bloodborne tainted my view of video games. Both experiences left me feeling that all games are dark, violent, and depressing. Filled with language I don’t allow in my house; filled to the brim with blood. I needed space. So I threw gaming in the backseat.

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The beauty of the Wyoming wilderness contrasted against human brokenness. Dark secrets hidden in outdoor splendor. My experience with Firewatch was gut-wrenching. I felt for protagonist Henry. The reality of his personal fairy tale falling a part. I wondered at the intentions of Delilah. Her name seeming appropriate. A distraction, like the watchtower in the game itself. None of it mattered though. The profanity-laced journey was for naught. Terror and mystery ended in smoke.

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Mixed-in with my quest into the woods, were sporadic play sessions of Bloodborne. Hearkening back to the muscle-memory games of my youth, Bloodborne scratched a deep down itch. But the dark settings and constant violence weighed on me more than I could tell.

I had told my friend Scott how I was feeling, burnt out on video games. His first response was, “It was Bloodborne, wasn’t it? Shoot.” Good friends often know you better than yourself.

For about a week, video games disgusted me. I had no interest in them. This scared me. But left me with a clear head to contemplate other things. To allow God to speak truth where I needed it.

I fired up Destiny over the weekend. Had a good time playing. We’ll see where that leads.

From Across the Net: “Time well wasted”

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Justin, aka “Syp”, reflects on time in his piece titled “Time well wasted“.

I don’t want to hobble my personal and professional life with an overabundance of gaming. I hope that I always keep up the good fight of balancing that properly and not letting a hobby become a thing that becomes a master. I also desire to play games with purpose and not out of obligation and routine.