Video Game Addiction in Adults

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Husband plays video games all the time

Dec 2011

My husband spends most of his free time playing video games. He works very hard at his job. During his down time he plays video games. If we have nothing else planned and if the kids are busy, he will spend most of his weekend time gaming. He also will play late into the evening... often until 1 or 2 in the morning. I am trying my best to accept this ( though I do think video games are addictive) and need some support. Is this common behavior in most families these days? sick of games

My advice would be to separate out two concerns, one of which seems more valid to me than the other. 1)how your husband spends his leisure time vs. 2) your concern about how much personal leisure vs. family (work/leisure) time your husband spends. It seems like the first: how he spends his me/leisure time is something you should try to chill out about-- if it would be okay if he were reading a book, or playing basketball, or watching television, or gardening, or jogging, then in the grand scheme of things it should be okay that he's playing games. However, the other thing is (in my opinion) a legitimate gripe: if he's always playing games (or reading or jobbing, or watching TV, or whatever) and that's interfering with time to spend as a family (either doing leisure things as a family, or doing work around the house, etc.), this is something it seems fair to me to have a conversation about. There are lots of different ways to approach that conversation, and a lot of it depends on both of your personalities and the family dynamic. But I just personally recommend removing the specific anti-gaming element out of it and focusing on the family-time element of it. (In my informal observations, some husbands seem to resent any requests that they spend less alone/me time, but other husbands respond favorably, especially if it's an indirect approach such as just scheduling more family things in and given ''assignments,'' etc. --good luck!

I could have written your post. I figure there are worse things he could be doing- drugs, alcohol, porn... What has helped a lot is that he makes the effort to go to bed at the same time I do, around 10 PM. When he was staying up late frequently playing the video games, I would feel much more disconnected and told him this and so he changed his schedule. Good luck. glass half full

Be assured, this is not normal. Why did you accept it in the first place? You are entitled to have a man at your side, not some college boy who never grew up and treats you like a roommate with benefits. Companionship and comunication are the lifeblood of marriage. He is setting a very bad example for his children. Unacceptable! Anonymous

Your description fits my husband exactly. My husband was like this when we met and as we courted and I knew I wasn't going to change him when we got married. I did, however, make it clear that while I tolerate his gaming for the most part, when I need him to stop and do something else, he better stop or there will be trouble. If there's something that needs to be done, I say, ''Honey, I really need you to help me clean the kitchen, so no games until it's done.'' Or ''Hey, I just wanted you to know there's some free sex in our bedroom...wink wink'' or ''Honey, lately I've been feeling like you are spending too much time online. I need you to back off for a while and spend some time with your family.'' He also lets me know if he is starting a long game or planning on a tournament in advance so that I have fair warning.

It works pretty well for us. Most of the time I don't mind his gaming a bit. I read a lot and watch DVDs he doesn't want to watch and we both enjoy our solo time. I see it more as a maintenance issue - when I feel like we've been spending too much time doing our own things, instead of stewing or making up rigid rules, I let him know I need him. He knows it's not forever, so it's not a hardship for him to say he'll back off for a few days. Sometimes one of us gets annoyed, but emotions are emotions and as long as we communicate it works out. married to a gamer

I have some similar problems in my home and I feel for you. You mentioned that he does it more when there isn't any activity planned. Have you tried planning more activity both for the two of you and for the kids? Also I got my husband's doctor to mention that a consistant earlier bedtime would reduce his stress and help with some problems he was having. If all else fails I make it clear what my needs and expectations are around quality time together and chores that need to be done and if he can do those then I just accept what he does with the rest of his time is not something I control and try to focus on the wonderful things he does when not playing. Anon

It is difficult to say what normal is. The fact that he spends all of his leisure time in one obsessive activity is certainly unhealthy and is the very definition of an addiction. Yes, it is the behavior of an addict, meaning he chooses to have a relationship with his gaming rather than with you and the children. While I do agree with the poster who said his behavior is that of an immature college boy who treats you as a roommate with benefits, I also agree with all those who said he could have far worse habits. Yes, I suppose he does deserve to spend his free time as he chooses if he meets and exceeds the family's financial responsibilities, but the way he opts to do so leaves you pretty lonely, I imagine. Companionship and conversation ARE the hallmarks of a true marriage... And the children are being modeled a dad who chooses to be ''absent.''

Nevertheless, I would neither expect any big changes from his end of it, nor would I choose to necessarily end such an imperfect union. After forty-some years on this planet and a few relationships and a marriage later, my observation is that there are very few people who manage to mature into grown-up companions with good conversation skills. Good luck on that one. You probably need to give your marriage a periodic review of pros vs. cons and see if you find the situation still acceptable. The search for companionship and conversation has to be weighed against the emotional and financial needs of the children, the consequences of divorce on them, and your own emotional fortitude in handling such a huge transition in the face of these challenges. anon

Husband plays video games every spare moment

April 2010

Do other people out there have husbands who play video games for hours on end in the evening and every spare moment they can? I confess I have no patience for them and find them juvenile and addictive. I feel hurt and blocked out when he plays. He's an excellent father, but my kids/girls are beginning to notice how much their dad plays video games. Does anyone else struggle with this? When does interest turn to addiction? Thanks, anon

Video games have been a bone of contention in my family for a while. A lot of the tension between myself and my husband has been related to him staying up late to play, being tired, and then being grouchy/useless from lack of sleep. This is a guy who really needs his sleep to function and to treat others well, yet he'd stay up until 1 a.m. consistently to play. With our son waking at 5 a.m...what a disaster. It's also sad and discouraging to see him come home and immediately jump on the game, ignoring everyone else in the room, including our toddler, guests, me, etc. Things have improved. I try to objectively state what I don't like or would prefer: I don't like it when you treat me badly because you're exhausted. It's hard for me to have you in the room yet ignoring me most of the time. It seems unfair that you immediately plug into your game and leave me to take care of our son--I don't do that to you. This isn't what I'd like to model for our child. I'd like to do things with you if you could make more time for me. Etc. He has listened. He goes through periods of playing lots and then playing less. And I remind myself: there are much worse pastimes. It's a cheap activity, it's only fair that he gets downtime, and I know where he is. It may seem like a dumb hobby to me, but I know people who don't think much of obsessive book-reading (that's my vice), which is just as sedentary. It's also helped that we socialize with some of his online buddies, and sometimes he goes to their homes to play as a group, which I respect more, fairly or not, because it's in-person interaction! I encourage my husband to have fun and relax, just not at the constant expense of our family. He has listened. WoW widow

Just wanted to let you know you're not alone. My husband plays his online video game all evening, every evening (after the kids are put to bed), and as much as he can during weekend down-time as well (when the kids are awake/around). When we first got married, he only played solo games, and not that often; he had other at-home leisure activities: reading, TV, movies. Then he got involved in online interactive games, first Vanguard and now Lord of the Rings. When he's playing, he wears a headset to communicate with other players and is always embroiled in some epic battle, and thus is very unapproachable. He now disdains TV and movies (my favorite down-time activities) as too passive, not interactive enough, and plays late into the night. I've resigned myself to the evening playing; after all, it's his down-time to spend as he wants. I do mourn the loss of together time (I can't even make occasional chit chat with him when he's got that damn head set on), and the lack of sex, and I resent being the one that has to tend to a sick kid a night because he's always embroiled in a battle when they cry....But I've gotten used to it. But when he plays when the kids are awake on the weekend, my ears start to steam. (For reference, I don't watch TV during the day; I work around the house, read, etc.) I don't like that he's so unapproachable, can't interrupt whatever battle he's in, so that I end up doing more than my share of managing the kids (and other household stuff). Also, I don't like that he's modeling such a lack of well-roundedness in his leisure activities to the kids. I imagine at some point I'll bring this aspect up to him, but I haven't yet (my kids are 2 and 4). Does he think he would have become the smart, accomplished person he is if he had started playing video games (to the exclusion of all other leisure activities) at a young age? Or if his father had modeled that for him? We want our kids to value reading, right, but if they never see their father crack open a book, what does that tell them? We model our values by what we spend time on. It's frustrating, and I'm getting steamed up just writing about it. Hubby, why not read a book for once! Lord of the Rings widow

I didn't see the original question, but from the other responses, gathered that the ''guildies'' were getting more attention than the real, live, in-person family. The straw that broke the camel's back for me was realizing that we were paying for the privilege of having a zombie dad who had to put off plans with his family in order to wait around for a raid that was starting an hour late (and would last into the wee hours). The paying part was actually a big issue for me, because although the cost wasn't high, this all happened at a time when money was very tight for us. So I did what any mature (ha ha) spouse would do and gave an ultimatum. Although I realize that you might not be at this point, and that you may not even agree that giving ultimatums in a marriage is a good idea, I was feeling desperate. My partner is actually happy that he is no longer playing, and other than a brief tryst with Mafia Wars, has avoided getting sucked into the gaming hole. it's an addiction like any other

My husband plays games. It has been hard at times. Here is our basic arrangement:

1. No games until the kids are in bed and all chores are done. Dishes and toys are his job while I do the last of the bedtime routine; he plays once all of that is done, so that when I am done, too, we are both off duty.

2. No games when the kids are awake, weekday or weekend.

3. Games have more plot these days, and there is more continuity than there used to be. He plays for a week or two, finishes a game, and then not again for a few months. There are late nights. I am much more understanding of the binge when I know that it will be followed by a few game-free weeks.

4. He plays on easy mode, which is completely unnecessary for him, but which allows him the satisfaction of getting all the way through a game without needing to spend months on the same stupid boss battle.

5. He likes for me to be involved, even though my feelings about games are much like yours. I try to watch now and then. I talk to him about the game itself when he isn't playing, discuss the game's merits, or lack thereof. I sometimes hang out while he plays, reading a book or doing my own stuff. (Most of the time I use the opportunity to catch up on sleep.) It can be painful sometimes, but it helps keep me from feeling like it is something that takes him away; instead the time is a sort of shared private time.

If you can, restrain your judgment of his hobby; mentally replace gaming with model trains or whatever else would make you happier. Imagine a hobby that you might have--rock climbing or knitting or interpretive dance--that you fell in love with but which he found boring or silly. Think about how you would want him to deal with you.

My emergency plan has always been to simply walk out the door, especially if the kids are awake and need tending to. Just put it all down and walk out. I'm all for down time, for turning off, for checking out, but it is absolutely unfair that one person in a house gets to do this while the other is burdened by the full care of children and home. That, I would say, is when interest turns into addiction--when responsibilities to self and others are unfulfilled and neglected in order to play.

We use the word addiction in our house, around both net-surfing and gaming. It certainly changes the whole conversation. Good Luck

Husband addicted to WOW - online game

Jan 2008

My husband is addicted to World of Warcraft. Much to my dismay he puts it above all other priorities in his life, including me and our 2 year old daughter. While I could stun you with examples of this prioritization (well, okay here are a few: 8 hours a day gaming, always playing during family time, gets belligerant tells me to go away if I try to get him to do anything else during this time, panics at the thought of not gaming, his own family doesn't want to see him). Thankfully, we have started counseling. I have my own therapist. I am looking for a support group that handles this sort of thing. Like Game- Anon? Any ideas, something out there I don't know about? Are there other ''Wow-widows'' or ''Wow-widowers'' out there?

I'm so frustrated and depressed. Our life together is going nowhere as this inanimate object called my husband levels up to some god ranking at this game.

Just for some perspective, we both have great jobs, always get bonuses and raises etc. so it's not like that is suffering. Just our marriage and family.... Thanks, wow-widow

My gaming (but, thank goodness, not WOW-playing) husband says that a Google search for ''WOW widows'' should find you all sorts of support groups that could be of use. feel for you!