Games are here to stay and will be part of our lives. Complete embargo of games for your child and youth will mean social and technology isolation. This is not possible when students are required to go online for some school classes or assignments. On the other hand Game Dependency is a very real challenge for many parents. Yet, game dependency is rarely on the clinical radar as a cause or contributor to educational or behavioural difficulties for which psychological services were being sought as compared to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), conduct disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, insomnia, and mood deregulation.
For this Parents Webinar, we seek to equip parents with frameworks to help parents better understand games, gamers and game addiction, which we termed game dependency. With better understanding of games and your child’s gaming motivations, parent-child communication and relationship can be improved. Developed from the understanding of a youth’s brain development, various communication strategies will be examined. We will also do a brief introduction to neurofeedback intervention that is noninvasive and non-medication-based, that can help programme the brain to achieve greater mastery over ineffective or dysfunctional behaviours, i.e. game dependency, poor relationships, etc.
Date and Time: 26 May 2021 (Wed) 10am – 1pm Venue: Zoom Webinar NOTE: A unique zoom link will be emailed to you to join the webinar. Please sign up using the email address you use for your Zoom account. Otherwise you might have problem logging into the Zoom webinar as the zoom links are linked to the email provided during registration. Cost: $15/registrant Eventbrite Registration: https://uggg2021.eventbrite.sg
ABOUT THE SPEAKERS
Nicholas Gabriel Lim
Nicholas Gabriel Lim is the principle psychologist and a board director of COMEBACK. As a registered psychologist, he has worked with youths for 2 decades. He is the co-founder of the Youth Work Association (Singapore), the author of the ebook Clash of the Mind and Heart: Understanding Adolescents, a clinical supervisor to young budding psychologist, and a youth mentor!
He has spent his career in the people, private and public sectors. All of which have been with youths, families, and advocates of youths. Given his depth and breadth of work with youths, he has been on various government advisory councils, like the Media Literacy Council and the National Council for Problem Gambling.
Nicholas not only has Degrees in Psychology from the University of Queensland and the Nanyang Technological University, but also various clincial and practice certificates like for Youth Work Coaching and Supervision, Choice Theory and Reality Therapy, Adventure Therapy, and Therapeutic Behavior Management, just to name a few. He is currently pursuing his law degree.
In his free time, Nicholas enjoys reading a good book and heading to the gym. Together with his beautiful wife, he has three children. He lives by his favorite mantra, a life well reflected would be life well live!
Ruth is on staff with SOOS OIO as an Esports Coach and co-developed TeleTrip, an offline gaming community event. She conducts DOTA 2 foundational classes and workshops for Esports Academy under SCOGA and also teaches the module “Team Management” in Informatics Diploma for Esports and Game Design.
Ruth Lim coached a competitive DOTA 2 team TenTwenty in 2017 that won CPL Championship DOTA 2 Edition 2017, came in 1st in Dew Challenge 2017 and represented Singapore in Asia Pacific Predator League in 2018. Ruth managed Team Impunity FIFA Online 3 who got 3rd in EA Champions Cup (EACC) Winter Cup 2016 representing Singapore. In 2017, she coached Team Impunity FIFA Online 3.
Ruth graduated from Temasek Polytechnic with Diploma in Games & Entertainment Technology and SIT-University of Glasgow in Bachelors of Science with Honours in Computing Science. She also holds a CoachSG coaching certificate.
Well recognized in the DOTA 2 community, Ruth attended numerous international gaming tournaments, got to know and learnt from many of the top players worldwide. Ruth hopes to share her knowledge and experience to gamers in Singapore and beyond.
Poh Xing Yong
Xing Yong is an Associate Psychologist with COMEBACK. He has struggled with game dependency since Primary school, and now aims to help others overcome their similar struggles in game dependency using his past experiences and background in Psychology. He has completed his Psychology Degree (Honours), and is currently pursuing further studies in Counselling Psychology to further hone his skillsets.
One common concern that we often hear from parents is regarding how to connect with their children. Busy schedules, coupled with the increased accessibility of games and gaming devices, have made it difficult for parents to bridge that gap. At COMEBACK, we do not just see how games have led to a disconnect, but also how we can also leverage on the games to build back that connection. In this post, we aim to highlight some ways that parents can connect with their children – by adopting the right approach and having targeted conversations based on the child’s individual personality.
Picking the appropriate time.
Before we delve into the how, we must first discuss the when. Typically, we always advise parents to steer away from having conversations with their children in the midst of their games, whenever possible. Gamers tend to be fully focused on their games and in-game communications, which leave little room for proper conversations to happen outside of it. As such, a typical response tends to be brief and even one-sided. Worst yet, a frustrated gamer may even blame their losses on you. Not a good start for a conversation!
Appropriate timings tend to be periods where the child is not engaged in any games, and/or in-game conversations. Better yet, catching them right when their gaming session ends can be a good opportunity – they might still be fresh with emotions from the previous games which can compel them to share more.
Taking the right approach.
It is not uncommon for parents to face resistance from their child when first probed about their games. The thing is, many gamers may have faced disregard and disapprovals from adults regarding their games, and hence might be expecting the same response again. Therefore, it is critical for parents to adopt the right approach toward engaging the child, which can be elaborated into three key points:
Be upfront about your intentions. Do expect that most gamers would be onguard when you first approach, and constantly second-guessing about your intentions. Consider starting the conversation with why you are approaching them in the first place. Sharing about your intention to learn more about games in order to understand them better, can help to defuse some of the initial resistance.
Approach with genuine curiosity. One common observation among parents is that the gaming world can be quite daunting to understanding. This is further fuelled when their children use gaming terminology and lingos. Just like asking them about any other hobbies, be open about your lack of knowledge and ask them to clarify. Most gamers are largely understanding about this aspect, and are willing to share once they know you are genuinely interested.
Refrain from judgements. Avoid expressing disapproval right from the get-go (e.g., you are playing too much!”), as this can often end the conversation swiftly and hinder future conversations. Understandably, many parents share their concerns out of goodwill, particularly when their children have been excessively gaming and neglecting other aspects of their lives. However, we must stress that building the connection first is the foundation toward making the necessary changes.
Some parents might find that their child is taking longer than expected to warm up, despite adopting the right approach. There is no quick fix. Connection may take a longer period and numerous attempts to eventually develop, depending on the child’s personality and the level of defensiveness that they have adopted over the years. These attempts can be viewed as the child testing the waters to know that you are genuinely reaching out to them. Afterall, they want to know that it is a safe space for them to begin sharing.
Four Player Types
Once the child is willing to be engaged, the next step is navigating the conversations about their gaming world. Understanding the child’s player type can help you to guide the conversations toward their interest and facilitate sharing. If you have not done so, we would highly recommend you to first read up on the four player types in our blog post to have a basic understanding. Parents may also direct their child toward our player type test in order to know which player type their child belongs to.
Achievers desire to be seen as being competent over others. This motivates them toward seeking for achievements through games, such as achieving high ranks or levels, acquiring strong in-game characters and items, and many more. Essentially, these achievements serve as trophies that illustrate their competency, and it is not uncommon to hear achievers declaring and striving for big goals (e.g. joining a professional esports team).
Conversations with achievers would usually revolve around them sharing about their in-game achievements and goals. For example, they may show you their in-game trophies, replay video-recorded moments of their games (e.g. making an impressive game-deciding play), or sharing with you their game-related aspirations.
Although all these may sound like bragging attempts, achievers are ultimately just looking for affirmation. Simply listening and even affirming their efforts can go a long way to making future conversations happen, even if the achievements or goals may seem trivial or even unnecessary. Afterall, their willingness to share means that those achievements do matter to them. Here are some game-related handles to facilitate early conversations with achievers:
“What are some of your proudest achievements?”
“What are your best characters and items?”
“What is the highest rank you have achieved?”
Socializers desire to feel a sense of belonging in the community. Games, particularly multiplayer ones, provide the opportunity to participate in social activities with other gamers. They enjoy the thrill of simply playing with others, interacting and having conversations whilst playing – in fact, you may find some even talk more than they play!
Because socializers are so socially attuned, they are often in-the-know of the latest happenings and trends among their peers, or even the gaming community at large. Thus, conversations with them tend to revolve around sharing about their social interactions, discussing about their gaming peers and personalities (e.g., popular streamers), and even the latest gaming trends and topics.
While all these may appear as “small talk”, the socializers derive their sense of belonging through being in-the-know. Hence, it is important to listen without judgement and avoid trivialising their sharing. This helps them to fulfill part of their social needs with you and build that all-important connection for future conversations. Here are some game-related handles to facilitate early conversations with socializers:
“Who are your favourite streamers?”
“Who are the popular players in this game?”
“What are the current trending games?”
Explorers value having immersive experiences within a game itself. Unlike achievers and socializers, explorers do not actively require the participation of the gaming community, and can even be content with enjoying single-player games. Nevertheless, such games must be intriguing and captivating to them. This is typically in the form of a well-designed game world and characters, with deep storylines and unique features. They are naturally ‘kaypoh’ (a Singaporean slang for busybody) in the game world, as they often want to experience all the different aspects that the game world has to offer.
Conversations with explorers involve them sharing about all the interesting aspects in their games. This can include their favourite characters, interesting storylines, secret bosses that they discovered, and many more – basically anything that has captivated them in their games.
Hence, a typical conversation with an explorer can be expected to last longer compared to other player types. Parents need to take that into account, and refrain from starting conversations that may result in having to leave halfway. It may be necessary to set aside a certain amount of time for such conversations (e.g. one hour), as well as be upfront about the time you have together. Here are some game-related handles to facilitate early conversations with explorers:
“What is the game about?”
“What are your favourite characters?”
“What are some interesting features of the game?”
In the simplest sense, gurus desire knowledge and understanding. How this manifest is an innate desire to master their games completely. Unlike achievers, they are not overly concerned with how they perform compared to others, but are mainly focused on understanding how the game works and developing strategies to beat it. In other words, while achievers are outcome-driven, gurus tend to be process-driven. Gurus often have no qualms about replaying the same game multiple times, if it means being able to refine their current strategies further.
It is necessary to manage expectations when conversing with gurus. Conversations can be very short, direct, and seemingly one-sided – although this may not reflect any disinterest. This may be simply due to their nature of being rational and precise, as they may answer only when they are certain of it. Rather, they become disinterested when conversations become emotionally-charged, or revolve around very basic discussions (e.g. basic rules in their game) about the guru’s expert topic. Unless the parents are well-versed about games, it may be best to avoid the topic of games with gurus, as such conversations can become extremely technical and difficult to navigate through. Hence, we will provide some pointers toward how to engage a guru, instead of game-related conversational handles.
Parents wanting to engage gurus may want to consider the following points: avoid small talk, use logic and reasoning, and be prepared to lead the conversations. In any case, do not be offended about their short responses. Showing negative emotions, such as anger and frustration, is a quick way to disconnect from the guru.
A Little Adjustment Goes a Long Way
Through explaining the four player types, we hope that parents have a better understanding of how their children think and behave. This can provide some insight into how to approach and navigate through conversations with their child, based on their individual player types. In our work, we realise that sometimes a little adjustment in the way we approach, can spark the beginning of a healthy, two-way connection with the gamers.
It is commonly believed that people get addicted due to the exhilarating nature of games. While video games are certainly arousing, my personal experiences seem to point at the cause of something deeper. Take it from me; after all, I used to be described as a ‘game addict’ by my own parents.
My Gaming World
You see, my growing up life was characterized by excessive amounts of gaming. I often gamed throughout the day and into the wee hours of the night, only catching up on sleep the very next day – in class. Skipping school was a routine tradition, as I often alternated between taking MCs, forging parents’ letters, or straight up without reason.
You may wonder: why doesn’t my parents do anything? Do they not care? The thing is, they were both busy working to make ends meet and had little time to supervise me. The situation further expounded when my father was sent overseas to work, leaving the entire burden on my mother to manage both her career, housework, and myself. She did make some effort, conducting nightly spot checks and implementing security locks – measures that were easy to navigate through with time. In the worst case scenario, I could simply head over to a friend’s house, or a nearby LAN shop to play. Gaming meant everything to me.
My motivation toward games was simple: it was a drive toward achievements. I naturally gravitated toward popular, multiplayer games which were competitive in nature, giving me ample opportunities to triumph over others and prove myself (Modern examples included: Mobile Legends, Overwatch). To me, what solely mattered was the recognition and admiration from my peers that followed these achievements.
To be honest, there simply weren’t many opportunities for me to excel outside of games. I was barely coping with my studies and constantly met disappointment from both my teachers and parents. As a result, gaming was the only outlet. As I started to get better at a certain game, I would tunnel vision toward improving at it, sacrificing my studies and any other commitments in the process.
A Comeback Moment
Things began to change during my Secondary school. Somehow, I was scoring well in my English and Humanities subjects, likely due to a good foundation in English and a natural interest toward History. It started as a series of small wins, in the form of occasional awards, and praises from both my teachers and peers. For instance, I vividly remembered my English teacher reading out my compositions to the class as a form of recognition. Even though these little moments were limited solely toward my class, it ignited a desire to do well in those subjects and compete for top place with my fellow ‘rivals’.
A critical moment happened during Secondary 4. As we belonged to the Normal Academic stream, we had to complete our ‘N’ levels in order to proceed toward Secondary 5. Back then, the ‘N’ level was assessed based on our best 3 subjects. These 3 subject system meant that I needed to only focus on one subject, as I was already proficient in my best two. ‘N’ levels came and went in a flash, although the results were certainly unexpected: I had scored first place for overall score in my cohort.
The thing is, I wasn’t considered as the forerunner prior to the examinations, although that has certainly changed since then. The entire experience fuelled a desire to repeat the success for ‘O’ levels, which led me to take drastic measures: unplugging the computer, purchasing assessment books, and even seeking my own tutors. My parents were visibly proud for the first time, and wholly supportive in my decisions. I felt unstoppable. Long story short, I managed to achieve first place again among my Normal Academic cohort, and landed in the polytechnic course of my dreams. It was truly befitting of a comeback.
Not Your Fairytale Ending
This is usually the part where I end with a ‘happily ever after’. The truth is, my Polytechnic years were a dark period, as I struggled to cope with my studies amidst being surrounded by hardworking and capable classmates. On the other hand, I was constantly being known among my peers for being good at games, thanks to the previous years of grinding. My motivation toward studies gradually dipped as I went back into my old ways of gaming.
Looking back at my life, I realized the existence of a swinging pattern – alternating between the extremes of gaming or studies – which continued to manifest itself over the years. The large swings seemed to depend on whichever I was capable of excelling and being recognized for, at that point of time. At least for myself, my game dependency certainly didn’t occur solely due to the thrilling nature of games.
As I continued pursuing my education in Psychology, I became acutely aware of the motivational tendencies of different individuals. You see, current psychological research on player personalities have indicated the existence of different player motivations – mine predominantly being the ‘Achiever’. This has been widely observed in a competitive striving toward achievements and higher status among my peers, in both gaming and studies, which was facilitated by an ‘all-in’ mentality toward either.
Although gaming still remains an integral part of my life, I find myself capable of managing my priorities and channeling my drive toward long-term commitments (work, relationships), much with the awareness of my own psychological motivation and supportive role models. Could the change have happened earlier? Perhaps, although I take comfort in my story that it is never too late. All these have led me to be fully invested in the COMEBACK program, as my past experiences and Psychology background has equipped me with the critical lens toward understanding the gamers’ underlying motivations, along with the innate desire and ability to connect.
With the rise of online video games, many forget how fun it is to spend time with loved ones offline. In this article, we will be introducing board games that the family can have fun and bond together while developing soft skills.
1. Sushi Go Party
Genre: Party Card Game Play Time: 20 minutes Players: Up to 8 players
Sushi Go Party is a fun, sushi-themed card game that engages everyone, from the young to the mature. The goal is to earn as many points as possible with the combination of cards, based on the “menu”. These “menus” can be customized and represent the cards which will be played. The game ends after three rounds and points will be calculated.
Despite its cute appearance, rounds of Sushi Go Party can reinforce strategic thinking and visual discrimination. It also introduces the idea of investing as “dessert” cards will only take effect at the end of the game. We suggest that parents find out how your child values each card and take this opportunity to discuss planning after each game.
Genre: Social Deduction/ Word Game Play Time: 10 to 15 minutes Players: Up to 8 players
Codenames is a party game based on communication. Players are separated into two teams, representing the blue and red agents. Teams nominate a “spymaster”, who will try to give a word that will provide a hint on where the spies are. Players attempt to guess where their agents are while avoiding the opposing agents, bystanders and assassins. The game ends when a team identifies all their agents or when one team identifies an assassin.
Players get to improve in their language skills and concept identification as they are required to group similar words together. They also experience the impact of clear communication without assumptions. Throughout the game, parents can get to understand their children better.
For smaller families with two or three players who want to try Codenames, you can play “spymaster” instead.
Genre: Murder-Mystery Board Game Play Time: 10 to 60 minutes Players: 3 to 6 players
When it comes to murder-mystery board games, Cluedo is a classic detective game that never fails to bring hours of suspense. The goal is to determine three key information: the murderer, the murder weapon and the place where the murder took place. Each player plays as a suspect and guess the right answer, while moving (or moving others) around the board.
With its slow pace, families can have small talks over the board game while encouraging children to think through what they need to consider in order to solve the mystery. Take this opportunity to start a conversation with your children by sharing the games from your childhood days.
Genre: Storytelling Card Game Play Time: 30 minutes Players: 3 to 6 players
Let your creativity flow in Dixit, a storytelling card game. In Dixit, the goal is to be the first to reach 30 points or most points when the card runs out. In order to gain points, players have to guess the right cards chosen or describe the cards if they are the storytellers. Players then vote on which card they think is the storyteller’s and are awarded accordingly. Points are only awarded to the storyteller only if some players guessed the right card, so it is important to describe subtly and not make it obvious.
Playing Dixit is a good way to express and get to know each other through the cards. Find opportunities to connect with your child by finding out why they have described the card in an interesting way.
Genre: Pattern Recognition Card Game Play Time: 5 to 10 minutes Players: Up to 8 players
As the name suggest, Spot it! is a simple game of finding the common image shown in two cards. Whenever the player identifies the common image, the card is collected and the next card is revealed. These images usually differ in size, making it challenging to spot. The game ends when the card runs out and the winner is determined by the player who has the most cards.
Despite its simple rules and gameplay, Spot it! is fun and exciting for all ages. There are also different ways to play the game: https://www.ultraboardgames.com/spot-it/mini-games.php. Playing time can also be adapted to your schedule, for example, the first player who reaches 10 cards wins.
It is a never-ending struggle to get children out of the game they play, so why not get into their world and understand what they are doing?
Intimidating as it sounds, it is not too difficult to connect with your gaming children. Here are three tips to help you get started:
1. Read up on your own about the games your child is playing
Before asking your child about the game, try finding out more information about the game that they are playing on Google first. Gamers appreciate the efforts parents take to understand the games they like, although they might not show it.
For a start, you can try finding out:
Introduction of the game in the form of YouTube videos. Game developers usually upload short videos to explain simply what the game is about.
The goal of the game.
Top teams/ famous streamer for that game title.
2. Talk to your child about what you learnt about the games they are playing
Find an opportunity to start a conversation with your child by talking about what you learnt about their games. Your care for them is shown through your interest in finding out more about the games that are important to them. As they start to open up, they might end up sharing a lot about the game and what they do in it. Don’t worry if you can’t keep up with the new gaming information, gamers don’t expect you to know everything. To have someone who is willing listen to them share about the games they love is important to them.
Warning: Avoid having this conversation while they are playing their games. They are too focused in the game to spare you any attention as you are a distraction to the game. This is similar to a child asking you questions to start a conversation about your favourite movie while you are watching it.
3. Ask your child to teach you how to play their game
Another way to engage your child effectively is to ask them to teach you how to play their game. Persist when they try to talk you out of it. Don’t worry about getting it wrong or not being good at it. The key is to have fun with your child!
Try them out!
We hope these three simple suggestions can help improve relationship between parent and child. Instead of allowing games to create a gap or topic of tension, use games to close up the gap to have interesting conversations and even fun.
WHO recommends video games as an effective way of stop the spread of COVID-19 and working with the gaming industry to launch the #PlayApartTogether campaign. Below are a few links to the news releases:
In response to this campaign, our Esports Coach Ruth Lim picked a few games that can provide great family fun when we need to #stayhome. The list of games is of course extensive, but if you are unsure where to start, here are four games to kickstart your #PlayApartTogether at home.
Game 1: Ring Fit Adventure
Platform: NintendoSwitch Genre: Exercising Action-RPG Players: One YouTube Review: https://youtu.be/VUav7aLMP40 About the Game: Too much gaming can transform your children into couch potatoes, but not with Ring Fit Adventure.
This single-player Role-Playing Game (RPG) packs both both fun and fitness. In order to move and battle, the player is required to perform exercises which will translate to movement in the game. Imagine your children jogging on the spot to move their character and doing reps of exercises to inflict damage to their enemies.
Recommended Family Play: A fun way to play Ring Fit Adventure as a family is to rotate the players every 15 minutes and have everyone watch the progress of the game together.
Another suggestion is to have 2 players per turn, one controlling the resistance ring while the other control with the leg strap. Coordinating the movements could bring lots of fun and laughter.
Game 2: Overcooked! 2
Platform: Nintendo Switch, Playstation 4, Xbox One, PC Genre: Cooperative Cooking Simulation Players: Up to Four Players YouTube Gameplay: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6gu_9bRyjBU&t=4s About the Game: In Overcooked 2, the goal is to prepare and serve as many orders as possible. The challenge comes when the players have to coordinate the preparation without bumping into each other. Imagine Hell’s Kitchen, but more fun and without Gordan Ramsay’s signature shouting.
Controls are simple with just moving, picking up and throwing so parents who are new to games can pick it up easily. Players can choose to play co-op (playing as a team) or play against each other in the versus mode.
Recommended Family Play: What is a fun way to get your children opening up to you? Try playing a game of Overcooked 2 together!
We suggest the family to play the co-op mode and have fun trying to reach the 3-star achievement together. For children who like competition, parents can try pairing with a child and play the versus mode together.
Game 3: Drawful 2
Note: Available free on Epic Games client till 9 April 2020, 11pm Platform: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC Genre: Party Players: Up to 8 players YouTube Gameplay: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SxkGn29x8iE About the Game: Looking for a creative and engaging game for the family? Try Drawful 2, where the goal of the game is to guess the original phrase based on a drawing.
Players are all presented a silly phrase which they have to draw out. At every round, players will be shown a drawing and they can suggest alternate phrases that looks like the right answer. At the end of the turn, points awarded to players who guess the original phrase, and to players whose suggestions were selected by other players.
Recommended Family Play: It is a great party game to play in family gatherings, where the young and old can bond over hilarious drawings and phrases. Not to worry about the controllers as the game only require one person to own and launch the game. Players can join the game with their mobile phones via the website with a room code.
Game 4: King of Opera
Platform: Mobile Phone (iOS/ Android) Genre: Party Players: Up to 4 players YouTube Gameplay: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3sFB5uWeyVs About the Game: King of Opera is a party game where all players share controls on the same device. Each player controls a tenor and the goal is to have as much solo stage time as possible. Imagine bumper cars, but a button instead of a pedal to move forward.
The controls are kept simple with only one button, which is to get the tenor moving. The player will not be able to control the direction, so timing the direction while the tenor is spinning and trying to bump another off the stage and be challenging yet fun.
Recommended Family Play: As most of the players’ fingers might end up blocking the screen, it is suggested to be played on an iPad/tablet. There are up to 6 game modes and each round last for 90 seconds. With the short gameplay time, the family can try many rounds together without spending too much time.