The prosecution: Marlene
He spends all his evenings in the corner of our dining room, immersed in a fantasy world
My husband Jim is obsessed with video games. When I get home from work after him, I know that I’ll find him on the desktop in the corner of our dining room immersed in a fantasy world. When it’s dinner time, it’s a struggle to get him off and to sit at the table with me and our son. He says, “OK, I’ll pause it after this battle.” It’s a bit disruptive to our evening. Sometimes Jim comes to bed really late after playing games – one time he didn’t come upstairs until 2am.
Jim plays games with dragons, tanks, battles and soldiers. They’re all very noisy. Sometimes if I’m washing up after dinner and Jim is still playing, I’ll ask him to turn it down. He reluctantly obliges, but I know he prefers to play them at full blast. Sometimes he puts up a bit of resistance and says that I’m “ruining the experience” for him. He won’t get headphones. Although Jim and I both do our share of the housework, there are times I have to say, “Can you help me with this?” He’ll say, “One minute,” but that minute never comes.
Jim works hard in a government job. When he comes home from work he wants to switch off. He’s a very hands-on father, but our son, who is seven, is starting to copy Jim and likes sitting alongside him while he plays. Boys will be boys, I suppose. But I’d like there to be a bit more time for us to enjoy more leisure time as a family. After dinner and homework, they play games together for hours. I usually go into the next room and watch television. They stay in the same spot all evening. Perhaps I’m a bit jealous. I have absolutely no interest in computer games, but sometimes I’d like the boys to come into the sitting room and for us all to chat together while watching a film.
Jim should try and ration the computer games on weekdays at least. Dinner together is nice but we need more time without the video games in the background. I don’t want Jim to set a bad example for our son, and for him not to develop any other hobbies.
The defence: Jim
After work I need to switch off, but I only play after I’ve made dinner and helped our son with homework
I have to admit, I do love playing my video games. They require zero concentration, are lots of fun and I don’t have to communicate with anyone. After a day of work, I need to switch off. When I watch a film with Marlene, she wants to talk every two seconds about what’s happening, or who the main character is. When she watches her soaps there’s also a lot of commentary too – that’s why I don’t really enjoy it. Playing games is a solitary affair, and I like that.
Marlene has her way of switching off and I have mine. What’s the issue? And our son likes to get involved with my games now, too. I think Marlene envies the fact that we are both really into gaming. I enjoy spending time with him while we play. Marlene could always ask me to teach her how to play, too, then we could do it together. I’d be more than happy to get her involved. She hates it, though. She says it’s “a man thing”.
During the week, I always make sure I’ve done our son’s homework with him before we play. I also cook dinner most nights. Marlene may complain, but everything that needs to be done for the family is done first, and the gaming comes second. If Marlene needs a hand with something, I’m always available . Sometimes she asks me to turn the volume down, if the music or the fighting sounds are annoying her, and I always do. Headphones aren’t really something I find comfortable wearing. And anyway, if I did, Marlene would probably get more annoyed as I’d be shutting her out completely.
It’s rare that I keep Marlene awake with my gaming. The one time I went to bed at 2am I simply got carried away. I apologised the next morning, and it hasn’t happened since. However I do enjoy the nights after everyone has gone to bed and I’m alone with the computer. I get to play League of Legends or Age of Empires, undisturbed, for hours. It’s bliss.
I think we have a good balance in our house. I don’t think reducing my time on the computer is necessary.
The jury of Guardian readers
Should Jim spend less time gaming?
Jim sounds like a very attentive father, bonding well with his son and doing his share of the housework. However, Marlene needs family time, too, and blasting out gaming soundtracks is a bit much, as is refusing to use headphones. As a lockdown guitarist, I know headphones help make a happy home. And as for offering to teach Marlene how to play? Well, that’s just insulting.
Video games are irrelevant to the fact that they’re both guilty. Jim, it’s time you realised that being in a relationship means carving out some time for your partner. Marlene, complaining about what Jim likes will only make him defensive. Try expressing your legitimate need for attention. It might work!
Jim is entitled to time alone, but Marlene feels left out, so there must also be activities involving her that can help him switch off – they should make an effort to spend time together in ways they both enjoy. Solo late-night gaming is great fun though. I think Jim is innocent.
Jim should understand that his video game enthusiasm is hardly the most healthy pursuit; and after all, Marlene is only asking him to ration his game playing. Hopefully the lighter, warmer evenings will make staring at a screen a little less attractive for Jim. Guilty.
I’m a gamer but not obsessive about it because I like physical activities more. Marlene is being reasonable and Jim would do well to listen to her.
You be the judge
So now you can be the judge. In our poll below, tell us: should Jim spend less time playing video games?
We’ll share the results on next week’s You be the judge.
The poll will close on Thursday 5 May at 9am BST
Last week’s result
We asked if Drew should start binge-watching television dramas, because his wife Claire is desperate they watch them together.
8% of you said no – Drew is innocent.
92% of you said yes – Drew is guilty.
This news is republished from another source. You can check the original article here