About Cam Adair

Cam Adair is a speaker, writer and player of chess. A prominent thought leader on gaming addiction, he shares weekly videos on YouTube.

Game Quitters is a community for gamers who want to quit and get their life back on track. You can join the community for free, here.

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This article originally appeared on addiction.com.

In this piece I want to share with you how, by understanding the genres of games your child plays, you can learn about their interests and help them find new activities they will enjoy.

You may not know it yet, but the type of game children play gives many clues as to what their interests are and how they are inspired to engage in the world. Each game genre brings with it a different experience and will provide insight into what they are interested in and motivated by.

There are a variety of game genres, so today I am going to focus on four: Mobile, First Person Shooter (FPS), Role-Playing Games (RPG), and Real-Time Strategy (RTS).

  • Mobile Games are played on smartphones, iPads and other tablets. Popular games include “Clash of Clans,” “Farmville,” “Candy Crush” and “Subway Surfers.” If children play mobile games they’re likely playing them during downtime and/or in between activities. The chance is high it has become their go-to activity whenever they feel bored and they simply don’t know what else they can do during this time. Great alternatives to mobile games are reading books, listening to podcasts or learning how to draw.
  • First Person Shooter (FPS) games are action-packed and emphasize missions, a quick reaction time and a desire for competition. In FPS games your child is the character. The insight to gather here is that they enjoy the game from the character’s perspective. Alternative activities to FPS games are achievement- and goal-based activities, including sports, martial arts or learning an instrument.
  • Role-Playing Games (RPG) give your child the opportunity to be a specific character and have a strong storyline component. If your child plays RPGs they enjoy contributing to a story. Alternative activities include drama or theatre, filmmaking or anything that allows them to be creative.
  • Real-Time Strategy (RTS) games involve participants who position and maneuver units and structures to secure areas of a map or to destroy their opponents’ assets. Popular RTS games include “Starcraft” and “Age of Empires.” RTS games have a strong strategic component to them. Puzzles and other board games, including chess, are examples of alternative activities. Similar to gamers who play FPS games, gamers who play RTS games have a desire for competition and finding this motivation in new activities is important.

In the next week or two, I’d like you to identify the main genres of games your son or daughter plays. These may vary, and it’s common for gamers to play different games depending on their mood. Be curious and pay attention to when they play the different type of game, and make sure you ask them what they enjoy about each game. You can then pinpoint real-life substitute activities that will get your child up and moving.

To learn more about how to help someone you love with a gaming addiction, read Respawn.

This article originally appeared on addiction.com.

In my last article I shared four reasons why your child plays video games and promised that in this post I would share how, by learning about the types of games your child plays, you will better understand what the best alternative activities would be for him or her.

Before I go into that, though, I wanted to first explain the different genres of games. To help you with this, my friends Rosalind Wiseman, the author of Queen Bees and Wannabes, and Charlie Kuhn put together a fantastic slidedeck, “Understanding Gaming Lingo As A Parent, Educator And School Administrator.”

A few of the other key terms you’ll want to know are:

  • Grinding: Games in which you “level up” require you to gain a certain amount of XP (experience) by completing different tasks or missions. As your character’s level increases, the amount of XP you need to reach the next level increases. Grinding is plugging away at a certain element of the game to do so.
  • Clan: This is your team or the group you associate with. There is always a clan name and a leader or leadership structure, and it’s common for there to be a private chat for clan members only. Clan matches pit one clan against the other.
  • Twitch: The world’s leading video platform and community for gamers. More than 45 million gamers stream Twitch games every month. It’s the place to go online to watch other gamers play.
  • MMORPG: This refers to a “Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game,” and includes games such as World of Warcraft. These games have millions of players and large communities outside of the game in forums and online channels on YouTube or Twitch.
  • PvP: These are games or elements of games that are Player vs. Player.
  • n00b: This is short for newbie, which refers to a new player who is doing poorly at the game. A n00b can also refer to any other player who is playing with cluelessness.

The Personality of a Gamer

Gamers have certain personality traits and these personalities are influenced by gaming culture. A common mistake parents make when they approach their child to discuss their gameplay is that they don’t take these personality traits into consideration. In doing so, their son or daughter can become triggered and less likely to be open to the conversation.

I’ll go into more depth about personality traits in future blog posts, but for now what I want you to know is that gamers are naturally defensive about their games. They’re defensive because they feel misunderstood and have felt this way for a long time since society typically approaches gamers with judgment and shame, creating stigma and separation.

This separation is at the root of why you find it difficult to connect with your son or daughter when it comes to their gaming habits or to have more influence in changing their gaming behavior. It’s also one of the reasons why, as we discussed in my last article, your child is drawn to games in the first place: They are able to find a community of like-minded peers who understand them and share a similar struggle in the world.

If you want to break through to your son or daughter when it comes to their gaming behavior then the importance of building greater rapport, especially around gaming, cannot be understated. By understanding and being able to speak in the same gaming lingo as your child, he or she will feel less judgment and separation, creating an opportunity to get connected and influence a shift in their behavior.

Here’s a task to try this week: I want you to learn about the games your son or daughter is playing. Ask them what they like about the game, what different activities they get to experience through the game and how it makes them feel. In doing so, you’ll increase your knowledge about their gaming experience and be able to leverage this into helping them find similar experiences through other activities.

In my next article I’ll share specific alternative activity ideas for your child based on the genre of games they play. If you have any questions or comments you can reach out to me here.

To learn more about how to help someone you love with a gaming addiction, read Respawn.

This article originally appeared on addiction.com.

You’re driving home, excited to see your kids after spending the day working hard to provide for them. You get home and other than a quick hello you find it difficult to get your child away from the computer screen.

You just don’t get it. What is it with these video games? You feel frustrated and don’t understand why they play these silly games. You feel overwhelmed because, although you try, it seems like no matter what you do, your child simply wants to keep playing more and more. What has happened to your son or daughter? Why are they so drawn to these video games?

I remember this situation well because I was this child. I even went so far as dropping out of high school twice and pretending to have jobs so I could continue to play more. My own breakthrough happened after living in Victoria, British Columbia for five months, where I had resumed playing video games — for up to 16 hours a day.

Prior to living in Victoria, I’d quit playing for 11 months; I thought I had a handle on my gaming problem. When I arrived back home in Calgary after my five-month stay in Victoria I was determined to figure out why I played video games and how to truly overcome this.

What I learned was there are four reasons why we play video games. These fulfill unmet needs we have for growth, contribution and community. By understanding why you or your kids play, you can have more power to move on. Here are the four reasons why a child or teenager plays video games:

Games are a Temporary Escape

We all need an escape sometimes and video games provide a great way to do just that. After a tough break-up at the age of 18 I was able to escape into games and avoid having to deal with the situation.

Games are Social

The games themselves are only the activity your child is participating in. The sense of community that games provide is one of the strongest reasons why your child plays as much as he or she does. If your child experiences any type of bullying or rejection at school — as I have — they are much more likely to find comfort in friends online.

Games are Challenging

Games give you a sense of purpose, a mission, a goal to work toward. This adds a level of meaning to your child’s life they may not be getting elsewhere. Games provide an achievement paradigm.

Games Provide Constant, Measurable Growth

When a child plays games he or she can see constant, measurable growth. This is a feedback loop: You get to see rewards for the effort you put in, both in the game and socially in the community. You get to see progress. In life it can be harder to see the progress you’re making, but in games you “level up.”

It’s so important to understand why your child plays games because this allows you to help them find these same benefits in other activities. It also allows you to come from a place of support and encouragement instead of judgment and frustration. Gamers are naturally defensive of their games and in order to have influence you need to have a trusting relationship with your child.

The next step is to start a conversation with your child about why they play games. I know you may have done this in the past, but this time I want you to come more from a place of curiosity, not judgment. Use the reasons I’ve detailed above as a compass and see how you can implement these motivations into their everyday life in other ways.

In my next article I’ll go over how learning about the types of games your child plays can help you understand what the best alternative activities would be for him or her. As always, if you have any questions, please reach out.

To learn more about how to help someone you love with a gaming addiction, read Respawn.

This article originally appeared on addiction.com.

The question every parent is asking themselves these days: Are my kids really addicted to video games? It’s an important question to ask and one you’re concerned about as you’ve noticed your child glued to the computer screen, no longer interested in other activities and increasingly difficult to interact with.

It’s a concern parents ask me about often, since few are able to escape it: Nearly 100% of boys and 94% of girls under the age of 18 regularly play video games, according to author and game designer Jane McGonigal.

So, what’s the answer? Is video game addiction real?

Unfortunately, the answer isn’t simple and the scientific community has yet to confirm the legitimacy of video game addiction. Most recently, in the DSM-5 (the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fifth edition), Internet Gaming Disorder is identified “as a condition warranting more clinical research,” so many, including myself, view this as a positive development in the direction of an official diagnosis.

What we do know is that research conducted by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) has shown there are similarities between the way both gamers’ and drug addicts’ brains are triggered by a particular substance or behavior and that “gaming prompts a neurological response that influences feelings of pleasure and reward, and the result, in the extreme, is manifested as addictive behavior,” according to the APA.

A study on video and computer games published in the American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse has also shown that playing video games “affect[s] dopamine release levels similar to those exhibited by using drugs like Ecstasy.”

So you may be right, and your child may in fact be addicted to video games, but what I think is more important is for you to understand why your child is so drawn to games in the first place, and what you can do about it.

Gamers play for very specific reasons — to fulfill certain needs. Gaming is an outlet. It’s an expression of unmet needs, so by understanding what these needs are, parents can have more influence on how games fulfill them, and also encourage their child to turn to other, healthier outlets to meet his or her needs.

This is an important distinction to make, because when it comes to games, it’s all too common to view your child as just being lazy and wanting to avoid their homework or house chores, when in reality it’s a more complex circumstance.

As a hardcore gamer for over 10 years I remember this all too well. Throughout middle and high school I experienced intense rejection and bullying that caused me to want an escape, so I isolated myself away, playing video games up to 16 hours a day. Eventually this led me to drop out of high school — twice. I was 18 with no real sense of direction.

Fortunately, my story doesn’t end there and I was able to overcome this period in my life. In the spring of 2011 I began to identify why I played games and, through this new understanding, I was able to consider how I could meet these needs in different activities, specifically ones that would have a more positive influence in my life. And over the past three-and-a-half years I’ve seen the same process work for many others as well.

In my next article I will go over the four main reasons why your child plays video games and how you can help them fulfill these needs through other activities.

But for now I want you to start a conversation with your child. Ask them what they like about the games? When do they enjoy playing them? What kind of games are they playing? Are they playing alone, or with friends? Each of these questions will allow you to gain key insights into how your child engages in games and, ultimately,their answers will help you help them shift their gaming behavior.

Until then, feel free to reach out to me with any questions and I’ll do my best to answer them in future articles.

To learn more about how to help someone you love with a gaming addiction, read Respawn.