This week, I’m so excited to have Cameron Adair on the show to talk about Living a Life of Purpose after Video Game Addiction. Cam Adair is the founder of Game Quitters, providing support and community for people who live with video game addiction. He started playing video games (or gaming, as you’ll also hear it referenced in the episode), at age 11. He was bullied in school and gaming provided a great escape, and he started playing more games. Because of video game addiction, Cam dropped out of high school twice, and after giving up gaming, only to relapse and play for 16 hours a day for five months straight. He shares with me today on how he started living a life of purpose after video game addiction.
Since their debut in the 70s, Video games are a popular and growing pastime for adults and children alike. From the arcade cabinets to Nintendo’s super mario world rom to the professional Esports that much play and watch today, gaming has come very far. With virtual reality becoming a reality and many more innovations, video games will be becoming more and more a part of our lives. Even online casinos are getting the virtual reality treatment – as owners try to work out how to attract online gamblers, their sites are becoming more and more elaborate, with virtual dealers and as immersive an experience as they can possibly offer. They certainly look impressive, and people no longer feel like they’re missing out on the thrill of an in-person casino quite like they perhaps used to. There are now even films being made into video casino games that appeal to various niches so that people will come and play them. The website Movie 32 goes into this and discusses a film that has been made into one of these games.
Unfortunately for some, certain imbalances in their body and life drive them to play video games for longer than what is considered healthy. They neglect their bodies and minds and become withdrawn from life. Though there has been plenty of evidence to show games like Minecraft stimulate one’s creativity and mathematical skills greatly, this often in the context of playing small sessions at a time, not 10 hours straight as many are now doing. This is what is known as video game addiction.
In wanting to finally find a way to end the cycle of addiction, Cam quit again, and wanted to find more resources to help inform him on how to do so, and found there was very little information out there about how to quit video games. And, so, after having a post on the topic go viral, and giving two TED X talks, he founded Game Quitters.
I loved talking to Cam for lots of reasons; I love games and have struggled at times with not being able to walk away from “just one more” turn or hour or whatever, on several games. I admire that he’s bringing light to a topic that often gets dismissed, or that’s misunderstood. Due to this, many people don’t get help for their gaming addiction, however, there are now places similar to New Convictions Recovery appearing all over the world to give support to those who find themselves affected by this type of addiction. This wasn’t the case many years ago, because of the lack of understanding. People were quick to dismiss video game addiction as childish and trivial, however, it can result in not only physical harm but financial harm as well. Organizations like Game Quitters are providing people a safe place to come together to support one another as they fight video game addiction.
Cam and I talk about:
5:00 Cam’s early sparks of joy as a child: playing hockey
5:30 What he does now – leading the Game Quitters community (for people struggling with video game addiction), speaking about addiction, along with surfing, DJing, world traveler
8:45 Cam’s new workout routine involving surfing, yoga, and weights
10:45 “Game Quitters,” which Cam started 18 months ago – what it is, and how Cam formed the community after facing video game addiction in his life
11:25 Cam’s start in playing video games. Cam talks about how being bullied in school and hockey, starting in 8th grade, led him to find an escape in video games. Eventually, he stopped playing hockey, and dropped out of high school twice.
11:50 Cam reached the point where he was severely depressed and write a suicide note.
12:45 Cam talks about his relapse, where he gamed 16 hours a day for 5 months straight
13:45 Cam shares his 4 reasons why he found he was drawn to video gaming as a “crutch”
14:45 Cam wrote a story “How to Quit Playing Video Games Forever,” that went viral
15:45 The crossroads of where is something enjoyable, and when is it an addiction and causes and issue? Cam’s answer: when it causes conflict.
17:45 I share about having played World of Warcraft, which remained fun, but how later, Game of War felt like it was in a place of conflict for me.
18:45 We talk about how games (and the newer app games) are created differently than games were in the past. Many of the newer games are created so that they prey on the human desire to keep playing, and often layer in a payment structure that allows you get ahead or stay “alive” in the game based on buying lives or paying money to continue.
19:25 The economies that develop in the games; and the fine line of “gambling” versus “playing”
21:30 Cam’s question of “Are you having fun, or are you happy?” – it’s a question of are you stimulated, or are you fulfilled?
23:05 We talk about how our society has been raised to be hyper-stimulated, and that is often a state where people think that they feel “good.” It has made it difficult for some addicts to understand what a normalized level of stimulation feels like. The fall out of having been constantly entertained is that people lack the know-how of how to develop meaningful friendships.
25:30 Cam shares about how to develop soft skills, and social skills.
27:30 We talk about how people create new kinds of relationships after leaving games and gaming
28:15 The relationships within games are very real friendships and when you leave a game, there is the possibility that you may also lose some of those friends (Cam points out that this is similar to moving; some people continue to be your friend after you move, and others no longer are)
31:45 What parents should try to understand, if they have children who are gaming; that your child does have real friends that are also playing the game, and that their children might not have social skills outside of the game to make transitioning into real life friendships easy. What parents can do to help their children.
34:05 What to do if you are feeling in conflict with your decisions to game (or participate in any behavior) and you wan to break that habit.
39:15 How changing your life, after working on an addiction can feel isolating, since much of your social network likely is still actively doing the behavior that someone now knows they can’t continue to do.
40:45 The 90 day detox as a reset for addictive behavior
42:15 Many people who are addicted to gaming have been gaming for most of their lives, and it is scary for them to quit, as they’ve never known what life is like without playing video games
43:30 We talk about courage and vulnerability, and what those both look like inside and out of gaming
46:05 What courage looks like outside of playing video games, and how the vulnerability, and risk is higher when you are “in real life,” but the rewards are greater, too.
48:00 What’s coming up for Cam, next.
50:00 Cam Adair: The Godfather of Video Game Addiction
50:05 Cam’s advice on bringing your dream into action (start today and do one thing every day).
52:00 Cam’s thoughts on how to jump start your joy
Game Quitters: Cam Adair’s site and support for video gaming addiction recovery
Game Quitters on YouTube
Game Quitters on Facebook
Cameron on Twitter
Cameron on Instagram
The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson (on Amazon)
How to Quit Playing Video Games Forever
Women, Food, and God by Ganeen Roth on Amazon
How have you made changes to you life, to feel more aligned with your purpose?