Leave me alone
In GTA V, Michael’s son Jimmy, is famously portrayed as always playing violent video games in his room. The subtext of his character’s obsession with his video games is that he uses them as a way of playing out his desire to be like his violent father, since he doesn’t have the heart to do so in real life.
When loved ones get shunned away from the bedroom doorways of players engaged in high stakes gameplay, it can often come with a bite; “Yeah, yeah, yeah whatever it is just leave it on my desk!”, “No Mom, I can’t pause it just let me finish this level!”, etc. I have observed this stressful response in myself when playing games and when other players are deep in gameplay, the root cause of this is a lack of proper boundaries.
When a player is made to feel that their investment in their pastime is constantly being compared to a substance abuse problem, they begin to resent the people who judge them. When a person’s time and space isn’t respected as their own, or worse still, they are made to feel that their choice in entertainment will be met with the sentiment that they need to grow out of it; a loop of aggressive interruption from the judging party, and defensive rejection of interaction from the player, is created. Therefore the “leave me alone” reaction, stems from an agitated player being made to feel insecure by an insensitive and judgmental party.
That being said it is important for the player to establish open lines of communication between themselves and the people in their lives, so that the player can express their feelings in a healthy manner, as can the people whose lives the player’s gaming may impact.
The important balance to the creation of sacred time and space for gaming is that it must be done in a manner which is healthy for the player. With extreme emphasis on that determination being made and managed by the player themselves. As long as the player is not abusing their hobby in order to neglect their responsibilities or health, they should be able to devote their time to gaming, without feeling judged, as with any other hobby or passion.
This is the third installment in my 5 part series titled Binge gaming, if you enjoyed it please feel free to read through the other articles within the series. I welcome discussion on this topic and if you have experiences of your own you wish to share please do so in the comments below, or write in to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Andrew Mantilla is a ludologist and video game journalist for Play Professor. You can check out more of his content on Facebook, Instagram, and Youtube.