First of all, I’m not going to start this piece by acting like my gaming habits were great and I didn’t play a lot of video games before the pandemic. I did and there’s no sense in denying it.
My gaming habits have never been what most would call “healthy,” but it worked for me. Pre-pandemic, I had found a nice balance between work, family, and gaming. In my last article, I wrote about finding that balance. It is crucial, and the craziest part is that everyone’s balance is different and can constantly shift. The craziest part is the constant shift of balance in our lives. We get so comfortable in our routines that even the slightest change can completely throw us for a loop. So when you throw a pandemic in the middle of each of our individual routines, it completely changes EVERYTHING.
My gaming routine was no different. It had no defense from the impact and isolation of the pandemic, but here’s the weird thing about it: I played games LESS throughout the majority of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Now less for me is probably still a lot for other people. Like I said in the beginning, I PLAY A LOT OF GAMES, but it was still less. Part of it for me was that I had my wife and kids at home with me every single day. I tend to not play nearly as many games when they’re home unless I’m playing with them because I like to spend time with them. So my gaming time, since I’m home a lot and do contract work, went from all day while they’re in school and then again at night when they’re asleep, to being relegated to nights only.
I’ve been completely fine with it. I spent more time with my wife and kids during those months than I ever have or ever will. I can never buy that kind of time with them. It was amazing for me, even if things are relatively back to normal for us now that they’re back in school.
But it wasn’t only my habits that changed. My family’s gaming habits changed too. My kids started playing games more and more and my non-gamer wife spent hours playing Animal Crossing. We would have family Brawlhalla nights while we all desperately tried to figure out how to beat my daughter. My family’s gaming habits went WAY up, which for the most part was ok. We were having fun and it was an activity that we could enjoy as a family.
Everything was pretty much great, except for my son. Keaton is 10 years old, and he has relatively severe ADHD. We had just started the process of getting him the help and assistance he needed when the pandemic hit. When his game time increased, we started to see a massive change in his behavior and his consumption of the games themselves. As most of you might know, people with ADHD suffer heavily from impulse control. So when my son got a taste of more games, was trying to adjust to new medications, and still trying to figure out how to cope with the symptoms of ADHD, it ended being a cocktail of overstimulation. He became heavily addicted to Fortnite and Roblox.
The morning I realized he REALLY had a problem was when I woke up at 3 a.m. because I heard noises downstairs. He had set an alarm for 3 a.m. so he could wake up before anyone else and play Fortnite for hours without anyone knowing. The look on his face and the irrational anger he showed was terrifying for me as a parent. Since then we’ve made adjustments and we helped him find the balance that he needed, but the pandemic affected his gaming habits in a way that threw his balance completely out of whack.
Everyone has reacted differently to this pandemic. Everyone’s gaming habits have changed and yes, some for the worse.
But overall, I’ve connected with my family more, connected with friends, and played games with extended family. It’s given a lot of people an outlet during a time that’s been incredibly difficult for all of us.
My son’s gaming habits and mental state are balanced and healthy now, and now I’m playing a different game with both of my kids every day, and I love it. It allows us to connect and bond in ways we couldn’t for months because of the pandemic.
No matter how your habits have changed, it’s ok. We have to change who we are and how we respond to every season. That’s part of human growth! Finding new habits and new hobbies is never a thing to be ashamed of. Enjoy your time gaming and as always, make sure you find a balance in that.