Counselors frequently ask me about ways to work with clients who play video games. This article will help mental health professionals better understand how to help their clients who play video games.
Learn About Their Gaming
When your client says they play video games, explore that. Learn about the games they play and what they do in games. Let them discuss what they play and how they interact with their online world. Here are some questions to ask:
What do you enjoy about the games you play?
What do you do in the games?
What are your reasons to play?
Learn 15 reasons by clicking here
Who do you play with?
How many hours per day/week do you play video games?
What are the pros and cons of gaming?
What are you gaining?
Listen to what they do in their games. Do they like building, exploring, competing, leveling up, or solving problems? Learning about what they do in their games will help you learn more about the person.
Many play games to work through or solve a problem they have in the real world. Learning about their gaming can help open up discussion about problems they are trying to solve in the real world.
Learn about the positives gaming has in your client’s life. Games can help with relationship building, problem-solving, and working towards a goal. Many focus on the negatives but it’s beneficial to learn about the positives video games offer.
The more you explore your client’s interactions with games, the more we can understand the type of gamer they are. There are three main types of gamers.
The Escaper gamer type is someone who play games to escape into a virtual world. They enjoy being wrapped up in the storyline, environment, or adventure. Some do this to find meaning in their own life. Some play to get away from problems or challenges in the real world.
If your client plays video games to get away from a stressful marriage or overwhelming work environment, that is the Escaper gamer type. Usually, the Escaper gamer type has low self-esteem and is impulsive.
Some games the Escaper type enjoys could be World of Warcraft, Final Fantasy XIV, Skyrim, and Zelda.
The Achiever is someone who is motivated by progress and achievement. They are the ones who play against others and like competition. The Achiever will watch their favorite streamer on YouTube or Twitch to learn how to improve their gameplay. They want to get better and play many hours to improve their skills.
If your client plays video games to feel a sense of mastery over their life because they don't feel that in any other area, they are the Achiever gamer type. Usually, the Achiever gamer type has high self-esteem and is also impulsive.
Some games the Achiever type enjoys could be Fortnite, Call of Duty, Valorant, or League of Legends.
The Hardcore gamer type is a mix of both. They are motivated to escape into the gaming world but also achieve a lot. They identify as a gamer. They are someone who is proud to be a gamer and it’s a big part of their life. If your client brings up gaming a lot in session, they are probably a Hardcore gamer.
Knowing the type of gamer your client is can help you better work through problems they are facing. If your client is escaping from a problematic relationship, it gives you the opportunity to explore and work through that relationship in session. If your client feels they are not good at anything besides video games, you can help them find confidence and mastery in the real world.
Relationships and Gaming
Now that you know the type of gamer your client is, learn about what the relationships around them think and feel about gaming. How did their parents view gaming? What does their spouse think about video games? What do their peers feel about gaming?
Many people who play video games feel shame about their gameplay. They were told by parents or another loved one that gaming is bad. They could experience a lot of internal conflict by thinking they are bad because they like something that is “bad.”
Uncovering important relationship views on video games for your client can be a good place to explore and work through in session.
Explore Own Thoughts About Gaming
The last point is for clinicians to explore their perspectives about video games. If we have negative interactions with games or feel they are a waste of time, that will come out in session. It can be difficult to have unconditional positive regard for our clients if we feel video games are horrible.
To help you explore your thoughts and feelings about video games, answer the following questions:
What do I like and dislike about video games?
How can games add value to people's lives?
What are pros and cons of playing video games?
What is society’s perspective on video games?
From my childhood, what were my parent's, friend's, and adult's perspectives about video games?
It’s natural to have a bad taste in your mouth about video games if they negatively impacted you in some way. Explore and work through that to better help your clients.
About 2.5 billion people in the world who play video games and the average gamer is 33 years old. That means many of our clients, adults and kids, interact with video games in some way. Let’s help them explore how games can add value to their lives.
Video games can be a window into our client's lives. Explore games to help you and your client better understand themselves.
If you have a client who plays video games and not sure how to help them, reach out to me to consult. I would be happy to give my insights on how to help. Contact me here.