Advice for friends of problem gamers

You’ll find hundreds of magazine articles aimed at parents, wives and girlfriends of gamers – but not many aimed at friends. Most times it takes a circuit breaker in some form – a parent, a friend, bad grades  – to pull someone who’s deeply into gaming back out.

Youth panel advice

Here is some advice from our panel of consultants aged 12 –17:

  • “Don’t give up on your friend! Keep asking them to come out, go to parties, and give them a REASON to go!”
  • “Let them know you and your other friends miss them.”
  • “Don’t be afraid to say – “I think you are gaming too much!””
  • “Tell them what you’ve noticed (about them and their well-being) since they started gaming too much.”
  • “Get specific – tell them what you are worried about. What are the negatives you’ve noticed about them since they started gaming too much?”
  • “Don’t leave it to phone and text messages – go see your friend face to face.”

Professional advice

Gaming isn’t always the problem for people who game obsessively. Many people start gaming to excess if they’re:

  • lonely
  • depressed
  • going through changes (like moving house or changing schools)
  • experiencing family issues
  • being bullied online or at school
  • struggling with schoolwork.

The problem is that many of these issues – depression, loneliness, struggling with school work, family issues – can often be made WORSE when gaming becomes an obsession.

Be prepared to listen to your friend talk about why he or she is gaming so much. You don’t have to be the one with the answers or take a course in counselling. The best thing you can do is listen and then help your friend find supports that can help them.  We have a list of professional referrals you can call or look through their websites to get advice on how to help your friend as well as what services are available for your friend directly.

Articles worth reading

When someone doesn’t want help

Our Youth Consultants agreed – when you’re deeply, obsessively involved in gaming, you may not see that you have a problem and may not WANT to be helped.  There can be lots of reasons for this – not wanting to face problems that started them gaming too much in the first place, fear that you’re trying to stop them gaming altogether or avoiding dealing with the fall-out that long term gaming obsession has caused. So what do you do? This article from the ReachOut website has some great ideas.

Helping a friend with depression

You can often feel helpless when a friend is dealing with seriously intense emotions or situations you’ve never experienced yourself. Depression is more than just feeling sad or angry (which we all do from time to time) – it’s a condition with emotional, mental and physical impacts. This article is also from the ReachOut website has excellent professional advice for helping a friend with depression.

Trevor’s story

We interviewed Trevor (not his real name) about how he lost control of his gaming and lost friends, gained weight and his life focus narrowed down to achieving on one game. Learn how he made a comeback and what he does to keep control of his gaming – and his life.