DEAR ABBY:

I'm an avid video game player. My husband and I bond over playing games, reading and talking about them. In fact, in my spare time, I just earned a master's degree in video game culture.

The issue I have is people judge my hobby as "a waste of time" or comment that I should read a book instead. I don't tell them I read a book a week because I shouldn't have to justify what I do with my time. I have a good job and a wonderful, stable marriage, yet people consider me immature because of video games.

Abby, video games are incredible works of art that tell amazing stories and allow players to experience a host of worlds and narratives that can be inspiring. Many people make lifelong friendships through online gaming or learn new skills through educational games.

What can I say to people who dismiss my hobby as a waste while claiming that reading the latest trashy vampire book or going out every Friday and Saturday night to get wasted is "really living"?

- Proud gamer girl

DEAR PROUD GAMER: A master's degree in video game culture is impressive. People who regard you as lazy or lacking in motivation are ignorant. Video game design has become a well-established industry. In fact, it's akin to the film industry in that the creative process requires an education similar to - but even more extensive than - that offered in film schools. Rather than try to convince those who tell you how to spend your time, focus your energy on what works for you and spend less of it around negative individuals.

A life with no filter

DEAR ABBY: I have a problem: I don't have a mouth filter and haven't since childhood. I bullied people in the past because of how I was bullied and deliberately hurt people to prevent them from hurting me. At work, I did it to the point that a co-worker called me the b-word and threatened to punch me in the mouth if I did it again. I take full responsibility. I deserved it.

Abby, as an adult, I have become meaner and more bitter and hurtful than I was as a child. Please give me some advice because I'm afraid I'm going to be worse in the future.

- Guilty and sad

DEAR GUILTY AND SAD: You are not going to become worse in the future because you now realize you have a serious problem and are willing to do something about it. Awareness is the first step in fixing it. An anger management class could be a good start.

Grandma's messages

DEAR ABBY: I have a slightly different version of a "Pennies From Heaven" letter for you.

My darling grandmother would often tell my brother and me she had a "Yankee dime" for us - which meant a kiss. Not long after her death, I started finding shiny dimes in the strangest places - under birthday gifts, by the Christmas tree and in my kitchen (which is my happy place). My heart fills as the dimes continue to pile up. I save them all.

If I had a penny for every Yankee dime I got while growing up, I'd be very rich.

- Suzanne in Ocala, Fla.

DEAR SUZANNE: You ARE rich! You were blessed to have had a grandmother who loved you and your brother and demonstrated it every chance she got. What a wonderful legacy to leave behind.