Announcement: We’re Launching a Scientific Study on the 90 Day “No Gaming” Detox

Today I’m excited to announce that Game Quitters and The University of Adelaide are partnering to launch a scientific study on the 90 Day “No Gaming” Detox.

At Game Quitters we believe if you want to quit playing video games you deserve support and resources to do so.

Our mission is to ensure that any person who struggles with video game addiction has the tools to succeed in their recovery.

Until now these did not exist, with professional organizations still caught in a debate about whether gaming is a real addiction or not.

This can be frustrating at times, but it’s also created an opportunity for our community to come together and create them for ourselves.

We don’t need to wait until professional organizations catch up to our every day reality. We can take matters into our own hands.

Over the past year we’ve been doing exactly that.

But we’ve also come to realize that providing support resources is not enough.

We must also use the power of our community to fill gaps in the academic research as well.

Why Video Game Addiction Is Not Taken Seriously

As many of you will know, video game addiction is not currently taken seriously and that is because it’s not currently recognized as an official diagnosis in the DSM.

Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is the standard classification of mental disorders used by mental health professionals in the United States and contains a listing of diagnostic criteria for every psychiatric disorder recognized by the U.S. healthcare system.

Although in the last edition “Internet Gaming Disorder” was recognized as a field needing more research, until it’s officially diagnosed in the DSM there are major consequences including a lack of insurance support and so forth.

Since the DSM-V came out there has been more research coming out about video game addiction, and what I’ve read has left me feeling optimistic.

There Are Gaps in the Research

dr daniel king

And that’s where our community comes in. Since our community is full of people who are or who have struggled with a video game addiction, it’s up to us to start filling gaps in the current academic research.

Now as much as I would love to do this, putting together studies to publish in academic journals is not my expertise.

So I’ve been looking for a partner on this and I found one in Dr. Daniel King from The University of Adelaide in Australia.

Dr. Daniel King has a proven track record of being published in academic journals, including papers on the topic of video game addiction.

partnership

We have partnered with The University of Adelaide and now have opportunities to bring our cause to the world, through the academic research. Our studies receive ethics approval and there is even opportunities to receive grant funding to further our research.

We Are Officially Launching Our First Study

Today we officially announce our first study, The Game Quitters Challenge: Complete the 90 Day “No Gaming” Detox.

This study is for you if:

  • You are someone who is currently gaming or you’ve just recently quit (less than 1 week.)
  • You are 18 years or older. (Sorry for anyone under 18, we will do something specific for you at a future date.
  • You are willing to commit to filling out five surveys over the next 90 days, even if you relapse.

Important: You must be 18 or older to participate and use a real email address when you submit your answers. Otherwise we will not be able to use your information in the study or be able to follow-up with the other surveys.

If the above sounds like you and you want to participate, here’s how it works:

  1. You sign-up fill out your first survey here (Surveys Closed)
  2. You will receive your next survey (automatically) via email on Day 7, Day 30, Day 60 and Day 90.
  3. Complete each survey, even if you relapse.

And that’s it!

Please retain a copy of this information sheet for future reference

Frequently Asked Questions About the Study:

Will I be identifiable by being involved in this study?

No identifying information will be sought from participants, and participants will NOT BE identified in any publications resulting from this research.

Ethics of this study:

This project has received ethics approval from the University of Adelaide Human Research Ethics Subcommittee (project no: 16/68).

Participation in this study is entirely voluntary and you are free to withdraw at any time.

Although this study is not expected to cause harm to participants, previous research has indicated that ceasing video-gaming may be associated with negative emotional states, including restlessness, irritability, and sadness. In the event that you experience any anxiety, depression or discomfort during this study, we urge that you seek help from one of the following services in Australia:

Beyond Blue (24 hour telephone support counselling)
Phone: 1300 22 4636

Lifeline Australia (24 hour telephone crisis support counselling)
Phone: 13 11 14

Outside of Australia, in the event that you believe your video-gaming has become problematic, help is available from your GP and from organizations such as Online Gamers Anonymous (http://www.olganon.org/).

Researcher contact information:

If you have any further questions about the study, are seeking clarification at any point during the study, or wish to raise a concern or complaint about the study, please contact the researchers below:

Investigators:

Dr Daniel King
School of Psychology
The University of Adelaide
Email: [email protected]

Cam Adair
Game Quitters
Founder, Game Quitters
Email: [email protected]

If you wish to discuss with an independent person matters related to:

  • making a complaint, or
  • raising concerns on the conduct of the project, or
  • the University policy on research involving human participants, or
  • your rights as a participant,

Contact Linley Denson, Deputy Convenor, the School of Psychology Human Research Ethics Committee on phone (08) 8313 5693 or by email.

Please retain a copy of this information sheet for future reference

Why The 90 Day Detox?

Last year we also introduced the 90 day “No Gaming” detox as a specific time period to take off gaming to experience tangible changes in your life, and what we’ve learned is this:

The 90 day detox works. The proof is in the stories of those who have completed it.

Take Joe, a member of our community who was inspired to quit gaming after his daughter was born and he found himself avoiding quality time with her… choosing to game instead.

Joe quit gaming and committed to the 90 day detox, and after 90 days here is what he had to say:

“I’ve made it to 90 days, and I feel like I conquered the impossible! This is easily my longest gameless streak in 25 years! I plan to keep on going and celebrate more milestones in the future! I am happy.”

The best part?

“Having a baby who smiles when she sees me. It’s one of the greatest things I’ve ever experienced.”

These changes are real and they matter. The decision by Joe to complete his 90 day detox will have a lasting impact on not only his own quality of life but his daughter’s as well.

And this is only one example. There are countless others (you can read more here) of gamers just like you improving your grades, getting (and keeping) a job, making new friendships and even finding love.

This will allow us to share our story with the world in new and profound ways. We will be able to share the true impact of our work, and inspire not only professional organizations to take notice of our community but also reach more gamers just like you currently struggling in silence.

Important: You must be 18 or older to participate and use a real email address when you submit your answers. Otherwise we will not be able to use your information in the study or be able to follow-up with the other surveys.

Why You Need to Take 90 Days off Gaming

 

 

Chapter 6:

When you quit playing video games you’ll notice is a shift in how you feel.

For the first few days (or even weeks depending on your situation) you tend to have no energy and your mood sucks. You may get irritated easily, experience headaches, or even have dreams about games.

It’s easy to feel like you are going a bit crazy.

This is all normal. When you quit gaming there are many changes that will happen in your life, and these can happen in both your physiology and your environment.

These changes happen because your brain responds to gaming in specific ways. It’s one of the reasons why you have gamed as much as you have, and this has to do with a chemical in your brain called dopamine.

In the brain, dopamine functions as a neurotransmitter — a chemical released by nerve cells to send signals to other nerve cells. The brain includes several distinct dopamine systems, one of which plays a major role in reward-motivated behavior.

Have you heard of dopamine before? Gaming provides rapid dopamine release. This explains why when you play games, the type of stimulation you receive is so much different than what you experience in other activities (and why you can find other activities to be boring in comparison.)

That doesn’t mean other activities are actually boring or that you don’t enjoy them, it just means that the type of stimulation in games is different than the type of stimulation in other activities.

I’m not going to make a villain out of game designers, but games are designed, intentionally, with the best practices of gamification and reward-motivated psychology. They are designed to get you (and keep you) hooked.

Rapid dopamine release can be dangerous, and even addictive:

Researchers analyzed the levels of dopamine release in the brains of about 20 ex-drug users and non-users as they played a motor-bike riding computer game. They found that video game playing affected dopamine release at levels similar to those exhibited by using drugs like ecstasy. These results imply that excessive computer game playing may resemble substance abuse or addiction in that it may be a strategy that children use to cope with negative emotions like frustration, fear, and stress. Source

When you game you experience dopamine surges that provide an environment of hyper-stimulation and continued consumption of this can override our natural mechanisms causing structural changes in our brain.

That was a bit wordy but what you need to know is that the type of stimulation you get from gaming is excessive and with continued consumption over time your brain will experience structural changes.

The science, as detailed in this video by Gary Wilson is the following:

Excess chronic consumption (dopamine surges) cause a binge mechanism (excess Delta-Fosb accumulates) which cause cravings for more which cause continued consumption which cause structural brain changes (detailed below).

The more you game, the more you want to game, the more your brain wants to game, so the more you game, and then structural brain changes.

3 structural changes to our brain:

  1. Numbed pleasure response: Every day pleasures no longer satisfy us.
  2. Hyper-reactivity to gaming: Every thing else is boring, but gaming is super exciting.
  3. Willpower erosion: Due to changes in our frontal cortex.

These changes help explain why moving on from gaming can be so difficult.

I bet you relate to the following experience:

  • Life just doesn’t satisfy you like gaming does.
  • Everything else is boring anyways, especially compared to the fun you have gaming.
  • And if you were going to quit, you just don’t really have the motivation to.

So what’s interesting about this is that for so long you’ve likely thought that either you just really enjoyed gaming (it was your passion) and thought other activities just weren’t really that much fun or at least, just not for you.

Plus, you were just one of those who struggled with motivation anyways. But what I want you to know is that this is likely not true. These experiences can be happening because of structural changes in your brain due to excessive gaming.

With greater power comes greater responsibility.

So now that we know this we have the ability to leverage our knowledge to respond differently. Remember, our response is our responsibility.

Research shows it will take up to 90 days for our brain chemistry to rewire back to normal dopamine sensitivity levels. And during this 90 days we may experience any of the following:

  • Compulsions, cravings and/or urges to game
  • Withdrawals, mood swings and/or irritability
  • Feelings of apathy, anxiety and/or depression
  • Headaches, lethargy and/or lack of willpower
  • And really anything else. We each respond differently

I found the detox-type symptoms to be the worst during the first two weeks.

But at some point, you’ll begin to notice a shift happening, one where you have more energy than you normally do (even when you were playing games!), you’re more optimistic, your cravings are less frequent (they always come and go) and you may even experience a feeling of not being that interested in games at all.

This is your detox in action!

Now it’s your turn.

Important: You must be 18 or older to participate and use a real email address when you submit your answers. Otherwise we will not be able to use your information in the study or be able to follow-up with the other surveys.

Frequently Asked Questions About The Detox

If your question isn’t answered below, email me and I’ll help.

Can I play in moderation instead?

Some of us don’t want to quit gaming completely and instead we want to reduce our time. If this is you, what I recommend is to complete the 90 day detox first, and then re-evaluate at the end if you want to try moderation. The truth is, if you can’t go 90 days without gaming… you probably shouldn’t be gaming.

Will the detox help other areas of my life?

Absolutely! One of the reasons why we game is because it fulfills certain needs we have, so going through the detox gives you 90 days to work on these other areas of your life, like improving your social skills, learning how to deal with stress, overcoming procrastination, etc. You can make a lot of progress in 90 days!

Can I still play with my gamer friends?

During the detox I recommend against playing with friends. Instead, use this as an opportunity to enjoy other activities with them. Some of your friends will support you, while others will not. Be firm in your boundaries with those who do not support you.

Do puzzle games count?

Brain and puzzle games can be ok as long as they don’t cause you to have cravings. If your cravings are strong, avoid brain and puzzle games until the end of your detox. Board games are fine.

Do streams count against my detox?

Watching gaming streams or LetsPlays does not count against your detox, but I recommend against them because they will trigger you and cause more cravings. Watching streams is main reasons people relapse. I recommend watching these two videos.

Won’t I just be bored all day long?

It’s true that when you quit gaming you might be bored. But boredom leads to relapse so I encourage you to avoid this as much as possible. To do that, follow the steps I outline in Respawn.

What happens after 90 days?

This is up to you. I completed my detox and chose to continue not playing video games. I haven’t played a game in over four years! My life has improved tremendously and I don’t regret it at all. But we all have to make our own choice. Complete your detox first, and then re-evaluate whether you want to play again or not.

Important: You must be 18 or older to participate and use a real email address when you submit your answers. Otherwise we will not be able to use your information in the study or be able to follow-up with the other surveys.

I want my life to have purpose. I want it to have drive. And I’m ready to take it back. I’m ready to implement these things that I’ve wanted to do for so long back into my life to grow into the strongest, happiest version of myself. Grinding out the Terran ladder, planting virtual bombs, and slaying demons over and over isn’t what’s going to get me there. – Ryan

See you on the other side,
camsig

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