Zero tolerance policy

I just read an article on MSN Dating & Personals that kind of…scared me.

The question:

My boyfriend is addicted to video games. He comes home from work everyday and sits in front of his computer from the time he gets home until 2 AM, sometimes 3 AM.

The game is an online interactive game, so once he engages in projects with his team-mates, he is stuck playing for hours.

The answer:

Given his predilection, it’s unclear, honestly, why he wanted you to move in in the first place. Or maybe it went this way: When you moved in, the commitment freaked him out. Result: He escapes into EverQuest. Whatever the case, it’s clear that — right now, anyway — he’s better at bonding with avatars than with actual humans.


I have to admit, from what you’ve told me — and from the fact that he has been honing his virtual sword-fighting rather than his relationship skills — I’m guessing you won’t get far. And that suggests to me that this — his “addiction,” his need to escape, his frankly asocial behavior — is a bigger problem than you alone can solve with schedules or ultimatums. So don’t blame yourself if you can’t “make” him change. Instead, start packing. There’s a guy out there who, when he flies off to faraway places, will take you with him.

Lynn Harris is pretty harsh. (There’s also a tendency in these advice columns to remark about how there are “other fish in the sea”, which drives me crazy. Is it supposed to be reverse psychology? Are you supposed to think, “Well, I could always leave him. …no! No, I don’t want to leave him! Hmm, this problem isn’t really so bad when I think about it that way.” If so…that’s ridiculous :> I imagine the reality is that advice columnists are presenting all possibilities without thinking about how it looks to continually suggest ditching the relationship.)

In any case, this whole “bonding with avatars rather than actual humans” is BS. Hello, have you heard of Ventrilo? The fact is, the reason Sean likes gaming is because of the teamwork and community. He is invested it in because of the relationships he makes there. I don’t see his gaming as running away from reality; I see it as Sean spending time with his friends.

I don’t know if the situation is the same for the writer’s boyfriend or not. If he won’t even stop gaming to eat a meal with her, then there might be a problem. People do get addicted to MMOs, there’s no question about that. But I think that Ms. Harris is being hyper-judgmental. She’s over the top because she can be, because that makes for more interesting reading than “social relationships are different now than they were in the 1800s”.

If I’d been writing that advice column, I would have suggested the girlfriend try playing the game with her boyfriend before I casually remarked that “oh well, he’s probably not the one for you”.