In many of my vlogs on YouTube I talk about the effect of video gaming on our relationships. This is not just the relationship with other people but also and foundationally the relationship we have with ourselves; the relationship we have with ourselves, our own body is the foundation for our relationship with everyone and everything else. We are in relationship with everything and everyone and it’s the quality, the activities and the focus we bring to these relationships that can differ.
If we have a look at the relationship we have with video gaming it can be an exposé of our relationship with ourselves that then goes back out and into the relationships we have with all others and with life in general. This blog only serves as an introduction as from my lived experience one blog alone cannot cover the full scope of how video games can affect relationships and how they can be a symptom of deeper relationship ills and issues or exacerbate and make what is already a disturbance in a relationship far worse.
“But hang on a moment, I have made many friends/met my partner/branched out and found connections through video gaming! It isn’t all bad!” some might say and I certainly was the one saying this roughly 5/6 years ago, not that long ago so what changed?
My relationship with myself is what changed and so my relationship with video gaming also changed, it didn’t end but I started to relate to it in a different way, the way I related to video gaming ended. Thus the relationships I had built with others through video gaming also changed.
I found that the more I committed to caring for myself, getting a job, making sure my uniform was ready and ironed (I worked in fine dining at the time, no crinkled polo top and sneakers!) making sure my lunches for the week where made up, frozen and ready to go. The more I put action into supporting myself at work the more I felt the video gaming was not supporting me in other areas of life, it actually took me away from life and distracted me from all the things I didn’t want to feel such as feeling unsupported at work. The moment I started to support myself at work the less stress I felt, thus the video gaming that was being used to block out feeling of stress wasn’t needed as much as it originally was.
Video gaming was very much a need based relationship where I was needy and wanting to be soothed from life’s stressors. But the more I cared for myself the less stress I felt, thus the less needy I became. And this was very much reflected in my relationships with the friends I made and the partner/crushes I had at the time. I would wait up for hours for online friends from different time zones, with a strong need and wanting them to come online and talk to me. I felt very small and clingy in those moments. I remembered feeling anxious if I could not talk to someone and would get very upset if they had other friends because it took them away from feeding that void within me that I believed needed to be filled from outside interactions.
So as life continued and the more I committed supporting myself the less stressed and more willing to work I became. Eventually there came the opportunity to move to London from my sleepy little village in the Oxford countryside. Something in me knew that this was the breaking point, I couldn’t continue this strained relationship with video gaming and all my online friends.
I started the extraction process of removing myself from guilds and clans, forums and websites. Closing down accounts and wrapping up ongoing storylines in the multiple role playing games and the multiple characters I was playing out at the time. I could feel at times the hooks and attractions to stay or continue gaming once in London but a part in me that I haven’t really appreciated until now knew and had the strength to leave that neediness and the video gaming behind as I stepped into this new aspect of life and now looking back it was the catalyst for a whole new relationship with myself as a person, a being and as a woman in the world and not just a needy little girl wanting the praise and attention and recognition from others. But that part of the story will be saved for another blog.
Ultimately I could see how the way I used to numb myself with gaming from the stresses of life didn’t fill the void where my relationship with myself should have been. Thus I needed others online to fill that void for me with their attention and a feeling of connection and camaraderie. Equally because I wasn’t giving that care to myself it was as if the ‘real’ people in my life – my family where not able to support me in life, when in truth it was that I was not open to ‘real life’ support from my ‘real life’ relationships. Again another area for discussion could be that online friends and face to face friends are perceived as something different, even though I did meet my first boyfriend and various online friends in person, sometimes repeatedly too! And yet there was still this differentiation occurring.
The more I filled my life with myself, by listening to my body the less needy I became and then the more truly outgoing and social I became as I was bringing more of the true me to my everyday relationships. Whereas in the past I was presenting the best ‘me’ that would get the most attention, like an angler fish in the dark with its shiny lure I would model myself to have friends, and if you’re a female online….that is definitely worth a blog in itself!
So let this be part one to the series of ‘Relationships and Video Gaming’.
When we don’t have that connection to ourselves we are shaped by the qualities that are around us based on what fills our needs to fill that void, for some it is clubbing, others it is academia and in my case it was video gaming.
Click here for part 2