Asking for a Friend: Help! I’m cutting back on gaming – but how do I keep my gaming friends?

  • Each week, we respond to a question from our readers and give advice and resources you can turn to
  • This week, we help a student who wants to know how to maintain online friendships, even while spending more time offline
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With everyone socially distancing during the coronavirus, online friends can be very important. Photo: Shutterstock

Need an answer to a personal question that you’ve never mustered the courage to ask? We’ve been there. Whether it is about school, family issues or social life, share your thoughts with us.

If you have a question you’d like answered (about anything at all), please fill out this Google form. Don’t worry, you will remain anonymous!

Dear Friend,

I used to play online games a lot and I made a few friends. Although we have not had many in-person interactions, we used to meet every day on the internet to play games together and chat about random things while we played. They are fun to play with, and I felt less lonely when I could spend time with them. But recently, I have decided to reduce the amount of time I spend playing games. How do I maintain my friendships with my gaming friends?

Thanks, A Lonely Gamer

My friend doesn’t study as hard as I do, but she gets better grades

Dear Lonely Gamer,

Not only is online gaming a popular leisure activity for many young people, it has become a go-to way for some to stay connected with their friends during the pandemic. Since everyone has been forced to stay indoors, meeting people online is the easiest way to chat.

I assume you have bonded with your gaming friends, who are of special importance to you, and now you fear that you will lose them when you cut back on your time online. But it doesn’t have to be that way! Here are a few things to keep in mind.

How do I tell my friend that I don’t like her gift?

Be honest with your friends

Talking with your friends about your thoughts and needs honestly is a positive way to maintain a friendship. Explain your reasons for cutting back on your gaming time and your concerns about losing touch. This will help your friends learn a little more about you and will help avoid unnecessary speculation.

If you quit gaming, maybe you could arrange Zoom hangouts instead? Photo: Shutterstock

Be open to change

We are all constantly changing throughout the different stages of our lives, and we may have to shift our perspective to see the positive side of these changes. Maybe you can invite your buddies to do something new together to maintain your friendships. Find a new way to bond with each other outside games, such as chatting through Zoom hangouts.

I told my friend’s secret, and now everyone is calling me a big mouth!

Be curious about new experiences

There are lots of opportunities to meet new people. Picking up new hobbies gives you a chance to make new friends and expand your outlook on life. The friendships you have built over gaming are special to you because they have allowed you to find a sense of community, but the same bonds can be formed over other activities too. Keep exploring other hobbies, because it is an excellent way to meet new friends and enrich your life.

You can also share your concerns with someone you trust and come up with more new ideas for ways to keep in touch.

Best of luck, Friend of a Friend

This was answered by clinical psychologists from the Department of Health under Shall We Talk, a mental health initiative launched with the Advisory Committee on Mental Health.

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