Context

I'm 26, born and since living in Barcelona, I share house with 2 other guys, lets call them Bob and John. Bob is my best friend since 7 years ago and John is a friend I knew 2 years ago from a friend in common, we have a good relationship and share a lot of tastes.

Me and my best friends are natural competitors, we met each other on a tournament of a Card game, and have been game pals since. We've competed at high level on several popular games and we really enjoy the thrill of competition. I do this on my spare time, I work 30h/week as a software developer.

The other flatmate is more of a casual player, who plays just for fun. He also has less time to play games since he got his last job which has a really heavy schedule.

Lately, after a break from competing in the last card game we were focused on, we decided to start training hard again and try to win tournaments and get good results. Therefore we spend more time practicing and playing in those tournaments.

The problem

This creates situations where Bob and I spend whole afternoons of the weekend playing long tournaments, or just spending tons of hours playing during the week if we have an important tournament coming up.

John sometimes brings up that Bob and I waste too much time on that and instead - as really smart people - we should be investing our time in other more productive things.

We've had a few discussions about this. I try to explain to him that it isn't the same playing a game for fun as playing to compete among the best players in Europe/the world. We just don't get the same satisfaction if you cut the number of hours you invest because you usually see your performance decreasing as well, and honestly that's a feeling I don't like. When I compete at something, I like to do my best among the parameters I can (I won't quit my job to have more time to compete since my developer career is a safe path and well paid).

Conversations usually go like this :

John: But don't you see that with that brain of yours if instead of playing you were using all that time to study or doing your own projects or business you could do whatever you want?!

Me: I know. it's just a matter of preference. I enjoy competing in games; I've been doing it since I was 14 years old and I really enjoy it. I don't feel like giving it up for an improvement over my financial life, which you know, is perfectly okay.

John: Yeah, but think how much could you make and all the interesting things you could investigate if you used that time productively like in this Machine Learning book you bought recently.

ME: Well, I'm interested in the subject and I'll be studying it and trying to learn and see if I can make a jump to it in the next years but I won't give up the thing I enjoy the most in my life.


He's usually the one who brings up the topic and I like to discuss quietly about things. But he just doesn't seem to understand that our perception of competing in games is really different from just playing for fun.

The only solution I can see is trying to compare it with something he really cares about like music (he plays guitar and he's been doing it for 14 years, so he's pretty good at it).

Clarifications (may be adding new ones if I see it necessary)

  • During 2 years of college I had addiction to one of the games I was competing in, which ruined my college years and I sabotaged myself from finishing it. I didn't realize this for a while but when I did, after working on it, I quit playing for some time and tried to learn from my experience to avoid that happening again. Now I invest a little less hours (they're still a lot), but it's just when I feel like it. For some days I just don't play at all since I don't feel like it. And therefore I don't think I have a gaming addiction anymore, since the way I mentally approach it and how it affects on me are really different.

  • I've told him a hundred times I understand completely his concerns about our future, but the things is even if I follow my current path, I have a quite successful path, Bob isn't in the same situation so I understand his concerns about him and I've spoken with him about this issue, so I don't see why is he so bothered with me, just because I could "aim higher". But yeah, I don't see any of his attempts as attacks but rather trying to help us.

  • Bob and I talk about the game a good amount of time but we also discuss tons of topics (politics, psychology, philosophy,etc) so it's not like we're always and exclusively talking about that.

Question:

How can I better explain how Bob and I feel about this so that he will accept our point of view or, at the least, get him to stop trying to make us feel guilty for playing them so much?

  • 1
    I think this may have a close-vote because it currently can be read as asking 'how do I make X do Y' which isn't really a good IPS question because no interpersonal skill is going to guarantee you that X will do Y. Maybe you could rephrase it a little? Is this about communicating your feelings more effectively? Then what would be the nicest outcome be for you? Because one of them would be to never talk about the tournaments anymore, at all. Is that something of a goal you'd like to achieve, or would you still like to be able to talk about the game just not about the 'aiming higher' part? – Tinkeringbell Apr 9 at 14:26
  • 1
    @Tinkeringbell I added an Ideal outcome scenario to clarify better. – Alexander Aeons Torn Apr 9 at 14:40
  • Why haven't you tried "compare with something he really cares about like music"? – Oleg Apr 9 at 16:12
  • 5
    I think there's an edge between "helping him to empathize" and "coercion" – Alexander Aeons Torn Apr 9 at 20:58
  • 2
    Alex, considering @Tinkeringbell comment, maybe the question title could be rephrased to something like "how to explain my friend that my gaming is not interfering with my life and I enjoy it?" I think your friend is not understanding that. – Mykazuki Apr 10 at 15:07
up vote 13 down vote accepted

You guys have a fundamental disagreement as to the values guiding you. Thus, you will likely never get John to agree with you guys.

However, you can ask him to understand, and respect your choices, which is probably the best you can hope for. That involves a couple of different things:

First, outline the logic driving you:

  1. You compete in high-level tournaments.
  2. In order to stand any chance at all, you have to be really good.
  3. Your performance deteriorates if you don't practice.
  4. You're competitive and want to win, therefore you practice a lot.

He doesn't have to agree with how you spend your time to understand your thinking in that regard.

Next, you'll need to explain that it's OK to disagree, but that he needs to respect your choices:

John, we've been having these conversations fairly regularly. Here's my position [outline the above]. I know you fundamentally disagree with this being a valuable pastime, but please respect how I choose to spend my time. I'm getting a little weary of having these conversations all the time.

Now, it seems to me like John is trying to bring you around to his point of view, which is not without merit, and that you're simply tired of his attempts to convert you. However, he's probably also doing it because he cares about you, and hates to see you "wasting your time" (which is the way his value system categorizes playing cards). So you also need to understand that his attempts stem from good intentions, not a desire to nag.

  • I've told him a hundred times I understand completely his concerns about our future, but the things is even if I follow my current path, I have a quite successful path, Bob isn't in the same situation so I understand his concerns about him and I've spoken with him about this issue, so I don't see why is he so bothered with me, just because I could "aim higher". But yeah, I don't see any of his attemps as attacks but rather trying to help us . – Alexander Aeons Torn Apr 9 at 13:22
  • 2
    @AlexanderAeonsTorn This sounds a lot like jealousy is in play too on John's side. Would you mind editing your comment into your question? Because I think this is important information for future answers. Thank you ;) – Cashbee Apr 9 at 13:38

Tell him that you have decided that one of the primary aims of your life is to have a good time, and that the game - to you - represents having a good time.

I think this approach has a good chance of working because the idea that one of the main aims in life is to have a good time is somewhat commonly-accepted in many cultures, and may therefore be accepted as reasonable even if not agreed with.

You could also take inspiration from this (slightly NSFW) quote by the immortal Lemmy.

As others have noted, this fundamentally comes down to, "thank you for your concern, but it's apparent that we don't agree and there's no point arguing about it any more".

What does this friend do for fun? You say he works a lot, but does he have any hobbies? You could compare your card-playing to his hobbies. Like if he enjoys, say, playing football, you could say, "What if we liked to play football, and we spent all our free time practicing football? How would it be different?" Or fill in the blank, whatever he does for fun, whether it's watching TV or gourmet cooking or collecting stamps or whatever.

If he literally spends little or no time on anything that is just for fun, if his life is entirely about working and making money, than I'd ask him why he is working so hard to make money? What good does it do him if he never enjoys life?

If his life is entirely devoted to humanitarian projects, if he's always feeding the homeless or volunteering at an orphanage or the like ... you might have a tougher time.

I read this parable a few years ago and I think it sums up your conversation perfectly. it is a funny story that explains why rush when you are happy. I suggest you get Bob to read it (unless you are good at story telling)

Here is the introduction

An American investment banker was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.

The Mexican replied, “only a little while. The American then asked why didn’t he stay out longer and catch more fish? The Mexican said he had enough to support his family’s immediate needs. The American then asked, “but what do you do with the rest of your time?”

mexican fisherman story

You can't make people understand things. There is no magic phrase that anyone here can give you that will make him think the way you do, and not how he does.

You've stated how you feel and why already, now you need to tell him that he needs to mind his own business, and you aren't going to discuss how you spend your time with him anymore.

  • 1
    I suppose there's not much room for improvement in this area of conversation, it's just that I enjoy discussing freely about any topic and don't wanna be that guy who says "we can talk about anything but THIS". If I say like I don't wanna talk with him about this topic anymore wouldn't that entitle him to his opinion even more? – Alexander Aeons Torn Apr 10 at 10:47
  • But you aren't forbidding anything. You said what you have to say. Continuing to talk on the subject means that you tacitly agree that you have to justify your personal choices to your roommate. Well, you don't. – swbarnes2 Apr 10 at 18:22

Or you could just say - you might be right, but I like what I'm doing. If he's a good friend, he will understand.

This reminds me of an incident years ago, another case of good intentions but inaccurate interpretation.

I had a large garbage can in my apartment, filled with empty beer cans. Well, it wasn't smelling bad or anything, so I never bothered to take it out.

A few months later, a close friend said he was worried about me becoming an alcoholic, because every time he came over, I had this huge garbage can overflowing with beer cans.

I had to tell him - those are the same beer cans that were there two months ago. I'm not an alcoholic. I'm a slob.

Your Answer

By clicking "Post Your Answer", you acknowledge that you have read our updated terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy, and that your continued use of the website is subject to these policies.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.