When my first serious relationship started I loved most things about my significant other, including his hobbies. We had similar interests and that was a major influence on how we got along as a couple. I met my boyfriend online, on an MMO game, Final Fantasy XIV. For the non-gamers out there, MMO stands for "Massively Multiplayer Online." It's essentially a type of video game that has a large number of players participating in it.
I spent a lot of time debating whether his hobby was healthy or not, if it was normal and if I had a right to be concerned about it. If your struggling with a similar situation, take the personally-observed tips below as an indication that there's something more going on with your S/O than a simple gaming hobby.
1. They're attached to one game
It might not seem like a big deal that your partner plays one video game every single time they play. I mean, when you like something you stick with it right? You reread books and re-watch movies all the time, not to mention repeating activities like playing certain sports you like or other hobbies. Well... being excessively attached to a specific game can be a sign that your partner isn't appreciating the act of gaming in general, but engrossed in a particular one they can't stop playing.
2. They cancel plans to play
This can be one of the more annoying signs of an addiction to gaming. As a partner you should be understanding if your boyfriend/girlfriend would rather relax at home than go through with plans. It's understandable if both parties are in agreement with cancelling an event. it's only a negative effect of a gaming addiction when the plans are cancelled or forgotten without considering their obvious or verbalized importance to you.
3. They become overly defensive at the idea of addiction
A person that becomes easily aggravated or uncommunicative towards their partner when a concern is brought up is always a sign that something is off in the situation. A good partner will always listen (or at least try to) when there's a need to communicate a problem or question in the relationship.
4. They think/talk about games constantly
There were times when my partner and I talked about what seemed like every idea or thought that crossed our minds even for a second. Whether they were silly, obsolete or just plain random. As time went on the range of topics we discussed narrowed considerably. Until one day I was conscious of the fact that all we ever talked about was playing video games.
5. Their mood changes when they don't play
It's a common aspect of any addictive behavior. If a person stops the behavior suddenly they tend to face withdrawal or another similarly debilitating episode. They have to adjust to the change, no matter how little. If you repeated an activity for months or years and decided to stop, you would need to accustom to that action's absence in your life.
6. They make excuses to play
Though he spent most of his time playing video games, my boyfriend would come up with little excuses to play for shorter amounts of time between other activities. For instance, if he was studying for a test, he would stop studying every 10-15 minutes to play. I questioned that as a tactic to study effectively and he argued that the material couldn't sink in if he didn't have a break.
7. They play behind your back
I had a weekly work-school schedule that changed every few months. I slowly realized that my boyfriend seemed to be in a better mood when my schedule was more consistent than not because I wasn't home to discourage him from playing. He planned his gaming sessions when I wasn't around and felt more comfortable that way because it gave him a guaranteed amount of time daily to feel satisfied.
8. They have gaming enablers in their life
In the case of my boyfriend, his enabler was his mother. An enabler is essentially someone in a person's life, it doesn't have to be an addict, who encourages negative habits or behaviors. The enabler isn't necessarily someone aware that they're enabling either. For example, my boyfriend's mother was supporting the gaming addiction because she thought it was a way for her son to relieve stress in other areas of his life, like school.
9. They stay up late or have a poor diet
Whenever there was a major event in my boyfriend's favorite game he would 'prep' for it. It reminded me of the dedication someone would display if anticipating the Apocalypse. He would round up a number of 'supplies' such as easy, frozen food he could eat between gaming sessions, a case of water bottles, clean blankets he could throw over himself if cold, and enough energy drinks to sustain him for three straight days without sleep.
10. They don't have friends outside the game
Your not any less of a person if you don't have a lot of friends or aren't considered "popular." Anyone with common sense knows that much. However, if the person your concerned about can only list friends that are online or fellow gamers he's never met face-to-face, it can be an indication that they are relying on satisfying basic social needs through the game.