Newspaper article The Observer (Gladstone, Australia)

Playing by Family's Rules; Man Alive with Paul Stewart

Newspaper article The Observer (Gladstone, Australia)

Playing by Family's Rules; Man Alive with Paul Stewart

Article excerpt

LAST week I touched on the phenomenon of computer games, and how it can provide us with a simulated version of happiness; power, freedom, reward, accomplishment and the process of growth towards achieving challenges.

As with anything in this world, there is the question of: When is enough? What does balance look like? There are many parents who become frustrated with kids who seem to continually play computer games, but there are also kids who get frustrated with their parents' playing of games, and computer games' widows who wonder where their partners went.

Many games have a kind of Time Dilation Effect to them. You can play it for what seems like 15 minutes, and several hours have gone by. The continual stimulation of action and reward can become so engrossing and so engaging that, even with the best of intentions, vast amounts of time can be gobbled up.

Now the question then is, when this occurs, what isn't getting done. If you live by yourself, then you may just be neglecting your chores, and maybe you can live with that if the dishes go unwashed for an extra day or two. If you are living with other people, particularly if they are in a relationship with you, then you may be seriously letting them down.

And this is just the requirements of keeping a home running. What about the impact of severed or broken down communication? It can be supremely frustrating to be trying to talk to someone whose attention is compellingly drawn to the little character on the screen battling the monsters. A real one-sided conversation before giving up in frustration, and sometimes the gamer may barely notice. Ooh, look, I've just gone up a level.

Now kind people, with poor boundaries, may let you get away with this, by doing things for you. They may do your share of the washing up and putting out the garbage, and whatever other tasks you had to do around the house, and they may even do it because they love and care for you. But be warned, this can become a dangerous roller-coaster emotional journey for these people. Because over time frustration and resentment will begin to build up.

This build-up of resentment happens slowly at first. …

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