Like many fun things in this world, video games need to be enjoyed in moderation. Playing the wrong kinds of games or too many of them can cause some problems and I know that from first hand experience. That doesn’t mean that they can’t be great sources of fun, especially when enjoyed with friends.
Video games can even teach us about relationships and the best ways to interact with the ones that we care about.
I love to play games with my friends and I’ve done that quite a bit. One of my closest friendships even formed over playing Halo and Call of Duty back in the day. Overtime, I came to know this guy more as a brother in Christ than a Halo buddy and I learned quite a bit from the development of that relationship.
Playing games together taught me a great deal about the best ways of interacting with other people because those games required a great deal of teamwork and communication. Now many people play these games without focusing on those things, those people also don’t want to win as much as we do. My friend and I, we’ll call him Francisco, love to compete well and that requires working together and communicating.
Learning how to do those well did not happen overnight, it didn’t even happen in the first couple years of playing games together.
It took us years just to realize that we had to learn about each other’s communication styles instead of simply telling the other guy why they needed to get with our program. After we overcame that giant hurdle, we started to change how we communicated and how we played to better suit the other person. The same hurdle exists in every close relationship and at some point we all have to humble ourselves and adapt our methods a little in order to have a healthy relationship.
Many romantic relationships and friendships struggle because they don’t know how to communicate well or deal with conflict. I learned the hard way, from many attempts, that things like raising my voice or lashing out at someone never got the results that I desired. While I may have expressed some of my frustration, I also put the teamwork and communication into a death spiral because Francisco would either just yell back at me or ignore me.
That death spiral usually meant that we lost that game and the same is true when it comes to relationships. Anger and bitterness will put a definite stop to the healthy tempo of any friendship or even marriage. Each person will then try to make something happen on their own and discover that it really does take two to tango.
That’s never a fun realization because our pride tells us that, with the right mix of will power and intelligence, we can put the team or relationship on our backs and win the day all on our own. I wanted to do that many times because I thought that saving the day would mean that I won the argument that arose during the game.
Over the years I realized that even when I did win the game it didn’t actually help our friendship, teamwork, and communication. If either of us won an argument and then made a point of declaring victory, it brought resentment and bitterness into the relationship. That usually meant we spent the rest of our time a little frustrated at each other.
I started to see that our healthy tempo and communication became collateral damage whenever we set out to win arguments instead of coming to a mutual understanding. This led me to soften my words and tone, along with seeking a mutual understanding instead of a victory in disagreements. This made all the difference in the world.
When I started to explain my perspective and how I came to my conclusions instead of throwing out a mix of orders and complaints, it defused most of the tension. Even when we lost close games or one of us obviously dropped the ball, we didn’t deal with bitterness and frustration because of the lack of relational tension.. Seeking a mutual understanding instead of winning made it very clear to Francisco that my goal was to work together for a common goal and not to just prove my point.
I can’t overstate the importance of the difference between seeking mutual understanding and trying to win an argument. The other person can always tell if you care more about their heart or winning points in the argument. It doesn’t matter how much you care about them, you must not put winning above their heart.
By the way, that does not mean you should try to please your way out of the argument. I struggle with people pleasing and I only do it because it makes me feel better. We need genuine hearts in our relationships and trying to please your way out of an argument will not actually lead to a middle ground.
People pleasing will lead to the other person feeling patronized and our old friends of resentment and bitterness will come back.
I know this because, as I learned about how to actually seek a mutual understanding, I tried quite a bit of people pleasing. My friendship with Francisco taught me very well that people do not like to be pleased and patronized because no one wants to be treated like a china doll. People want to know what you really think and feel; they just want to hear it expressed in a calm voice with tactful words.
Playing games with Francisco helped me learn all these lessons because they gave us a common goal and a kind of testing ground to see what did and definitely did not work in how I interacted with my friend. Again, I did not learn all of this overnight and maybe that’s the best lesson to take away from all of this. Relationships require time and patience, even the ones with common interests and chemistry, because learning the nuances of a person’s communication style and adapting yours takes a LONG time.
Video games have taught me that finding a healthy tempo and communicating well in relationships requires humility, time, and patience. In a culture obsessed with instant gratification and control, these lessons have proved invaluable in the rest of my relationships. It would help all of us if we slowed down a little and just focused on understanding the person next to us a little better.
Do you think it’s possible for us to slow down and just focus on discerning the heart of the person next to us?
Image Copyright: Marco Verchby