Understanding Gamer Denial
Those struggling with just playing too much believe that admitting there are consequences to their gaming will mean they have to stop. They fear quitting because they anticipate it will bring pain and distress. Denial, therefore, serves to protect them from pain and loss. The concerns your gamer has may vary, but here are some common ones to be aware of:
- Boredom, “what else will I do with my time?”
- Loss of friendships, “all of my friends play”
- Loss of purpose & identity
- Loss of gaming progress & history
- Increased stress
- Increased responsibilities
- Not having ways to cope
When we don’t understand these fears, it’s easy to make these mistakes.
Gamers in particular are vulnerable to shame and stigma because of how they have been stereotyped by society. Historically, gamers have been viewed as lazy nerds sitting in a dark basement wasting their potential. Today some players earn millions of dollars and it’s a primary source of connection and socializing.
For example, you may have said, “You’re wasting your life, you’re addicted to games,” or “there’s something wrong with you because that’s all you want to do.”
You may think they don’t care, instead of realizing they are scared. Believing your gamer just doesn’t care can cause a lot of anger. That anger often leads to unproductive confrontation and results in alienation and increased tension in your relationship.
When we make assumptions and act on them we might be missing the real problem. What is making them feel such a strong desire to escape and rely on gaming to do that? Why do they only feel confident in the gaming world? Why do they believe it is the only way to connect with friends or make new ones?
How Do We Fix It?
When we understand the role of denial we can transform our approach and create a safe and supportive space for them to move out of denial and begin to realize their gaming habits might be creating a problem in their life. The most important thing we can do is to work with them on creating a path for a way out.
Part of transforming our approach involves improving communication and having more effective conversations. A good conversation, where you can share your concerns and hear theirs, laying the groundwork for them to seek help and make changes.
Follow the guide below, adapted from the Children’s Screen Time Action Network.
Guidelines for an Effective Conversation
Listen with C.A.R.E.
Stay curious. Connection takes work, and approaching their wants and ideas with curiosity instead of criticism helps them feel like you genuinely want to learn about them.
An Open Mind
Make the conversation a safe space for to share their fears and concerns about what they might lose if they change their gaming habits or give it up all together. This doesn’t mean you have to agree, but putting away judgments and assumptions facilitates a more honest and open conversation.
Even though they may view the value of gaming differently than you do, their feelings are no less important. Appreciate that they have insights into the positive side of gaming that you may not have considered.
Take the time to step into their world and look at the issue of gaming from their perspective. Your compassion will build trust and promote healthy interactions.
Respond with L.O.V.E.
Lots of Questions
Ask thoughtful, gentle questions with the goal of understanding where they are coming from. It’s okay if you don’t have all the answers! If you’re at a loss for how to respond, turn to curiosity and ask rather than lecture.
Keep a positive attitude and express confidence in them whenever possible. Remember that all conversations, difficult ones included, are part of the continuous process towards healthier gaming as well as stronger relationships.
Before sharing your perspective, try responding with “I can see how you feel that way,” “What you’re saying makes sense,” or “I hear you, and what you’re saying is valid and important.” This simple act of acknowledgment will contribute to greater trust and understanding.
Make it clear that you WANT to hear how they FEEL and to understand their perspective. Show involvement and support by asking questions like: “Is there any way I can help?” or “What would you like from me?”
It can be frustrating to watch someone in denial but it is still important to have conversations about your fears and lay the foundation for them to consider making changes. The greatest barriers to those conversations are often poor communication, anger and fear of confrontation. Understanding why they are in denial removes those barriers.
By approaching them with C.A.R.E. and L.O.V.E. you’ll help them move out of denial and begin to realize their gaming habits might be creating a problem in their life.
Having a problem gamer can create a lot of stress in your household with constant arguing over gaming and intense frustration that they don’t see there is an issue. When your gamer is resistant to change you need to move forward with a purposeful plan.
We invite you to join our Reclaim Family Program which contains a proven method to reduce conflict, manage problematic gaming & get your gamer back on track in their life.
- How to reduce arguments and conflict over gaming
- How to improve communication so you see results
- How to build and implement a realistic plan for your family
- How to control gaming and screen time in a tech-centric world
The program comes with a 30 day money back guarantee and access is available immediately. Click here to get started today.