“I have a partner who I love and respect. Said partner enjoys video games and likes to play them to relax in the evenings and on the weekends. The playing of these games does not negatively impact on my partner or the other people in the family in any way. In my family of origin, video games of any sort (also many other things; TV, 'bad foods', staying up late) were vilified to the extreme, prohibited, and other people who engaged in these activities were looked down upon. It is hard, for some reason, to get over irritation/repulsion caused by video gaming. I would like to be more balanced and less dogmatic in my views than my family of origin, because I found being that rigid exhausting and restrictive! I do not feel the need to talk to my partner and ask hir to play less/elsewhere/with headphones on. I would really like to stop feeling guilty and annoyed about the presence of video games in my house!
I think there are several things going on here… It seems really likely to me that you’ve deconstructed the criticisms of some of the vilified activities from your childhood. In other words, the idea of “bad foods” has been rearranged for you, which could mean that what your parents considered bad you now consider good, or that you’ve realized that food has many facets, and you’re able to appreciate some good intertwined with what was once deemed “bad.” My guess is that this has not happened for you with video games. You want to be more balanced and less dogmatic, but you still believe that, in essence, video games really ARE bad…
I think if you want to change how you react to video games in your house, you need to examine very closely what you believe about video games. So, does it make sense to be accepting of something that really is bad? And if video games really are bad, can you share that with your partner? If it’s true, it should be possible to articulate that, yes? So, are you right to believe that video games are bad? What, precisely, is bad about video games? If you articulate this for yourself, you’ll be able to deconstruct your own beliefs.
There are lots of sources of information about video games, and like many hot topics in our culture, most of that information is clearly biased. If you want to dismantle the negative view you have, it seems like a good idea to me to immerse yourself in the literature that supports video gaming. You might even find it useful to actively avoid the video game related fear mongering, at least for now. Instead, try reading articles like this Wired article about video gamers developing scientific methods to beat their games. Or this BBC article about video gamers improved eyesight. Or this article from the Sydney Morning Herald summarizing our current understanding of some of the positive attributes of video gaming. For personal stories about the positive role video games play in many peoples lives, check out unschooling icon Sandra Dodd’s videogame page. For a more comprehensive look at the benefits of video games, consider reading James Paul Gee’s books about video games, or Steven Johnson’s book about the benefits of current technology and pop culture. These resources are just the tip of the iceberg. There is much, much more out there about the positive influence of gaming on individuals and our society at large.
Have you ever played a video game you enjoyed? I’m guessing the answer is no. I’m also guessing that, if you were willing to try, you could definitely find a game you might like. There is such amazing diversity in the world of video games these days. Games that give much of the control of the game to the player– where you get to decide what your character will look like, and whether the point of the game will be to charm lots of friends, or defeat all your enemies. Games that invite physical activity and interaction. Games with sweeping vistas and story lines that foster complex relationships via the internet. Games that tell lush stories. Games that are all about solving puzzles. New York Times Crosswords as a video game. Trivia games. And so, so, so much more. It might be worth it to find a game or two or three that you actually really enjoy. Play. See how that shifts your perspective.
If you happen to be a book lover (common, that – love books, vilify video games) then it might be eye opening to consider that a couple of hundred years ago, books were damned by many for the exact same reasons that video games are damned today… Books were seen as a bad moral influence, a hindrance to real learning in the real world, time wasting, and on and on. The media has changed, but the public is still skeptical and fearful of new forms of learning and entertainment.
Of course, it’s entirely possible that you’ve already done this kind of research, that you’ve already changed your thinking, at least on the surface. If so, and if you’re still hitting frustration in this area, then it seems possible that you’re tangling things up that aren’t connected.
Are you always annoyed by video games? Or just sometimes? If it’s the latter, look closely at your thoughts when you’re annoyed.
Were you wanting to connect with your partner, but the video game seems to be preventing that? If so, what would happen if you just sat down and snuggled up close – not interfering with the game playing, but opening yourself up to seeing the game through your partner’s eyes. What would happen if you asked hir to pause the game to go for a walk or have a cup of tea? It’s not a problem to ask for connection, though it can absolutely be a problem to demand it, or to blame/shame/guilt someone for not wanting the same thing you want.
Were you wanting quiet, or to listen to music, or to create some other shift in the environment that the video game somehow negates? If so, how can you create that shift? Close a door, open a window, light a candle, put on your own headphones, take a bath, step outside – the possibilities are endless here, so long as you are able to take responsibility for creating the environment you want, instead of unintentionally expecting someone else to do that for you.
Were you bored, and looking to your partner for inspiration? If so, maybe snuggling up is a solution, or calling a friend, or creating your own list of activities that you enjoy that you can refer to in an aimless moment.
Self-awareness is key here, along with a heavy dose of confidence in your own power to create the life you want for yourself. You know what you want to change, so put in the thought and the time and the effort, and you will absolutely manifest that change. Life is change, yes? So focus, and encourage change that you will feel good about. Change that feeds the relationships you value in your life. I hope something here helps you on your way.