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.

Visit my website →

With record profits and new business models available to game developers, danger is on the horizon.

TLDR;

Games are intentionally designed to keep you hooked using the best practices of behavioral psychology.

Gambling-like game design features include loot boxes, microtransactions, and in-app purchases.

Companies are earning record profits by targeting these unregulated features to kids.

Games are no longer what they used to be—fun, simple, and innocent. As technology has evolved, so too have games and the way in which they are designed. Armed with teams of behavioral psychologists, game companies deploy state of the art features to draw you in, and keep you hooked.

With each new game release, evidence builds that games are “specifically designed to exploit and manipulate the addictive nature of human psychology” as Representative Chris Lee of Hawaii has stated 1 1. New York Times: A Video Game ‘Loot Box’ Offers Coveted Rewards, but Is It Gambling? × . Worst of all, they are targeted towards the most vulnerable—kids.

How Did We Get Here?

The iPhone changed the way we communicate. The App Store changed the way we game. Starting in 2008, mobile and social gaming began taking the world by storm, and so too would a new business model with the introduction of in-app purchases.

No longer tied to a one-time purchase of the game itself, a game company could now offer their game for free (or for a small amount, usually under five dollars), and instead offer you opportunities to make small payments within the game through microtransactions. These were usually offers for upgrades, such as better weapons, faster advancement, cosmic improvements, and special or additional levels. What was once a fair playing field for all gamers, quickly devolved into pay-to-win.

Further, microtransactions take advantage of our psychology through impulse buying and loss aversion, and the problems with this type of predatory game design have only been intensified with the introduction of loot boxes.

Is It Gaming, or Is It Gambling?

Playing video games and gambling have a lot in common. Both operate on game mechanics that include “variable reinforcement schedules in order to reward and prolong play, and use exciting and stimulating sound and light effects.” They also include repeated cycles of uncertainty, anticipation, and feedback, and the rewards are just enough to keep you going 2 2. The Guardian: Social Media Copies Gambling Tricks To Make Users Crave It × .

The clearest example of these game mechanics are loot boxes. A type of ‘mystery box’, a player can pay anywhere from a few dollars to $50 or more of real-life money for the random chance of obtaining a desired virtual item. This item may be unattainable within the game outside of winning it in a loot box, and tend to vary in rarity (common, rare, epic and legendary), so they also come with a sense of prestige. We know from gambling research that the anticipation of a potential win activates our brain’s chemical reward system 3 3. Kim, 1998: Opioid antagonists in the treatment of impulse-control disorders. × , and loot boxes prey on this psychology. Worse, they are in games everywhere.

A study found “the loot boxes in almost half (45%) of the 22 games analyzed met the criteria to be considered psychologically similar to gambling, even though they are rated as appropriate for adolescent players under the age of consent for gambling.” 4 4. Drummond & Sauer, 2018: Video game loot boxes are psychologically akin to gambling × Further, a poll by Parent Zone found 10% of 13-18 year olds admitted to gambling on unregulated casino, esports betting or mystery box games, equivalent to almost 450,000 teenagers in the UK, and this was despite age-verification procedures 5 5. Telegraph: 400,000 British teens lured into under-aged gambling through video games, investigation reveals × . Research is clear: the earlier you start gambling, the more likely you are to continue gambling into your adulthood 6 6. ResearchGate: Griffiths × .

The potential damage is significant. Gambling physically alters the brain’s structure and makes people more susceptible to depression and anxiety 7 7. Telegraph: Gambling physically alters the brain, making people more prone to anxiety and depression, study finds × , and is associated with both debt and family difficulties. Reports come out regularly of the nightmare parents have when they receive their credit card bill and discover their son or daughter had been buying loot boxes and other in-app purchases without their consent. Today’s video games are a gateway to gambling.

Why Take Advantage of Youth? It’s Profitable!

If science is definitive that youth are vulnerable to gambling 8 8. Wilber & Potenza, 2006: Adolescent Gambling × , and games are now clearly designed with these features, why do game developers continue to pursue this path with reckless abandon?

The answer is unfortunately simple: It is extremely profitable. In 2017, Activision, which owns Blizzard—one of the most popular game companies—reported earnings of over $4 billion dollars from in-game purchases alone, equivalent to more than half of their total earnings! 9 9. PCGames: Over half of Activision Blizzard’s revenue in 2017 came from in-game purchases ×

Predatory as they are, there is a legitimate debate about whether loot boxes are a true form of gambling. Current law in most countries doesn’t view paying real money to win virtual goods as a form of monetary exchange—a necessary component of gambling law 10 10. US Federal Gambling Laws × , which has left the market unregulated (and thus exposed and used by vulnerable populations such as teenagers). However, what if you were able to sell your virtual goods for real-life money? This is exactly what happened in the game Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO).

Counter-Strike is a series of first-person shooter games that has been one of the most popular in history, but when game maker Valve released their latest edition CS:GO in 2012, things did not go according to plan. That is until they introduced a new game feature: skins. Skins were a unique way to decorate your virtual weapons. Acquire one in the game and you could sell it for real money. The game’s popularity exploded and grew in players by 1,500% within two years.

It also created a thriving gambling market. It worked like this: You buy a skin for cash, and then use the skin to place a bet on professional CS:GO matches using third-party websites like CSLounge. You could then sell your skin for real money, thus, placing a bet with a skin is essentially no different than placing a bet with real money.

Worse, this was an intentional strategy by the game developers, as employee Kyle Davis explained that the best way to get players “deeply engaged” in games (the terms companies use instead of “psychologically hooked”), was to “give away virtual items of random value and encourage a robust market to trade them.”

Research firm Eilers & Krejcik Gaming found more than 3 million people wagered $2.3 billion worth of skins in 2015, and of course, Valve received a kickback on 15% of the money 11 11. Bloomberg: Virtual Weapons Are Turning Teen Gamers into Serious Gamblers × . The CS:GO gambling industry was valued at $7.4 billion in July 2016, and has helped make CS:GO one of the biggest games in the world.

A Sign of Things to Come

However, it came with a cost: lawsuits 12 12. Holden, Rodenberg & Kaburakis, 2017: Esports Corruption: Gambling, Doping, and Global Governance × . The first came on June 23, 2016 alleging that Valve “knowingly allowed, supported, and/or sponsored illegal gambling.” A second, third, and fourth lawsuit came within weeks, causing Valve to take action and shut down this illegal gambling market, but not before they had earned hundreds of millions of dollars by taking advantage of the users they claim to care for.

Unfortunately, this was not the end of the romance between the gaming and gambling industries. With the Supreme Court legalizing sports betting 13 13. VentureBeat: Supreme Court decision means esports betting can step out of the shadows × — paving the way for legal esports betting—this budding romance has just begun. With record profits and new business models available to game developers around the world, danger is on the horizon.

Need help?

Reading this and struggling with a compulsion or addiction to gaming? You are not alone. Check out Respawn, a program specifically designed to help you quit gaming and take control of your life back. Backed by scientific research, join thousands of others like you who have quit gaming. Start your journey today.

If you think you might be gambling too much, or if you are worried about a friend or relative, help is available 24/7 and 100% confidential. Call or text the National Problem Gambling Helpline: 1-800-522-4700 or send a message on chat.

The rise of eSports is a modern day gold rush.

TLDR;
  • eSports: organized competitive gaming
  • Revenues near $1 billion annually
  • Prizes are in the tens of millions of dollars
  • U.S. colleges now offer scholarships
  • Millions of players compete for hundreds of pro gamer spots
  • Major health and addiction implications

Beginning in the 1990s, gaming went from a casual hobby, to an organized professional sport 1 1. Medium: The History and Evolution of Esports × . Today competitive professional gaming, also known as eSports, is a soon-to-be $1 billion dollar industry 2 2. Forbes: Esports To Grow Substantially And Near Billion-Dollar Revenues In 2018 × , championships are watched live by tens of millions of people 3 3. Verge: 'League of Legends' eSports finals watched by 32 million people × , and their potential Olympic debut is on the horizon 4 4. Variety: Professional Competitive Gaming on the Rise, Overwatch Shows Olympic Potential × .

With significant growth year-after-year, the eSports industry is a modern day gold rush. Major media networks ESPN, TBS, SyFy, and Telemundo all broadcast esports events 4 4. Variety: Professional Competitive Gaming on the Rise, Overwatch Shows Olympic Potential × , traditional sport leagues like the NHL and the NBA have launched tournaments and leagues, and owners of NBA and NFL teams have added ownership stakes in esports teams 4 4. Variety: Professional Competitive Gaming on the Rise, Overwatch Shows Olympic Potential × .

In the U.S., over 70 colleges and universities have added varsity esports teams and/or scholarships for esports 5 5. ESPN: List of varsity esports programs spans North America × , and this year PlayVS announced a partnership to bring esports to 19,500 high schools 6 6. Venture-Backed Startup Targets High School Esports Infrastructure, Eyes NCAA × . The numbers clearly show, eSports is here to stay.

Why is eSports so Popular?

Gamers love competition. They want to be the best. From 1972 when the winner of the first eSports event received a yearlong subscription to Rolling Stone magazine 1 1. Medium: The History and Evolution of Esports × , to present day where prize pools include up to tens of millions of dollars 7 7. E-Sports Earnings × , winning is at the core of what playing video games is all about.

eSports is also accessible. To play a traditional sport you may have to organize people into the same physical location, whereas with gaming you can play with people from all around the world instantly with an internet connection from the comfort of your own home.

Streaming—where you can watch other people (including professional gamers) play on websites like Twitch—is another reason eSports is popular. In 2017, Twitch (owned by Amazon) received 15 million daily visitors, with 355 billion (yes billion) minutes watched 8 8. Twitch: 2017 Year in Review × . Gaming culture today is as much about playing games as it is about watching other people play. Our own internal surveys reveal the average gaming addict plays an average of 25 hours per week, while spending 25 hours per week in other internet activities—watching streams.

eSports sells the dream of going pro. With 83% of teenage girls and 95% of teenage boys playing video games regularly 9 9. Pew: Teens, Social Media & Technology 2018 × , what could be more exciting than earning your living as a pro gamer, especially compared to traditional careers like being an accountant, lawyer, or sales associate—no offense to people working in those professions. The competition for eSports is fierce, with hundreds of millions of gamers competing for hundreds of spots.

Health and Addiction Concerns

Although eSports and the capacity to earn money as a gamer are positive developments for the industry, there are valid concerns to be aware of. To be the next eSports star involves gaming many hours each day, and research on the negative impact on your health when you spend hours sitting in a chair in a dark room starring at a screen is conclusive. Faker, one of the world’s biggest eSports stars practices for 12-15 hours a day 10 10. The Guardian: The rise of eSports: are addiction and corruption the price of its success? × . That does not bode well for your health.

The introduction of college scholarships for eSports is another concern, as teenagers will now justify their excessive gaming use because they are going to be the next eSports star—when in reality the chance of that is very slim. I’m not one to discourage a teenager, or anyone for that matter, to not pursue their dream, however doing so while being informed about what it truly takes is important, and what it takes is more than gaming all day every day. It takes focus and determination, responsibility, maturity, and optimal health—mentally, physically, and emotionally—amongst many other factors, including luck.

When the competition for eSports involves millions of players for hundreds of spots, having a backup plan if it doesn’t work out would be highly recommended.

Watch: ProGamer Opens up About Why He Quit Professional Gaming

Watch: Should You Pursue Pro Gaming?

Need help?

Reading this and struggling with a compulsion or addiction to gaming? You are not alone. Check out Respawn, a program specifically designed to help you quit gaming and take control of your life back. Backed by scientific research, join thousands of others like you who have quit gaming. Start your journey today.

Are concerns over violent video games valid?

TLDR;

Every time there is a new school shooting, violent video games are what make the headlines.

Violent video game use increases aggression, decreases empathy, and is a risk factor (amongst others) to violence.

On the morning of April 20th, 1999, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold entered Columbine High School in Denver, Colorado and committed the murder of 12 students and one teacher 1 1. Wikipedia × . The pair subsequently committed suicide. A national tragedy, the massacre ignited a fierce debate over gun control laws, bullying, and violence in video games—as the two high school seniors enjoyed playing games like Doom and Quake. Since then, video games have been tied to school shootings, including this year when Nikolas Cruz killed 17 people in Parkland, Florida, and the President of the United States suggested violent video games were partially to blame 2 2. Business Insider, 2018 × .

With millions of teenagers playing violent video games such as Call of Duty, Grand Theft Auto, and Fortnite, do parents have cause for concern? Does playing video games make you violent? If you are playing violent video games, are you at-risk of becoming the next school shooter?

Video Games Are a Risk Factor

The evidence is mounting that there are problematic effects of violent game use, however, that should not be interpreted as direct cause and effect. An authoritative review in 2015 by the American Psychiatric Association 3 3. APA, 2015 × found “a consistent relation between violent video game use and increases in aggressive behavior, aggressive cognitions, and aggressive affect and decreases in prosocial behavior, empathy, and sensitivity to aggression,” however it’s important to note that although all violence is aggression, not all aggression is violence.

Research is conclusive that there is “no single risk factor that consistently leads a person to act aggressively or violently. Rather, it is the accumulation of risk factors that tends to lead to aggressive or violent behavior 4 4. Berkowitz, 1993 × 5 5. Eron, Huesmann, Lefkowitz, & Walder, 1974 × 6 6. Ferguson et al., 2013 × . Each risk factor increases the likelihood of such negative behavior 7 7. Sameroff, Bartko, Baldwin, Baldwin, & Seifer, 1988 × — violent video game use is one such risk factor.” The average gamer is not going to be violent – it is just an elevated risk – with other factors playing a role in violent behavior such as bullying, childhood experiences, frustration, poverty, personal and social stresses, and external events and situations that bring hostile ideas to mind.

The Media is Guilty

The media has a role to play here. Every time there is a new school shooting, violent video games are what make the headlines. These segments play on the fears of responsible parents around the world and do immense harm to the quality of conversation of a very serious topic—violence. These news segments may be profitable as clickbait, but they also increase the shame and stigma attached to gaming, resulting in the further isolation of a community that now makes up the majority of our population during a time when our society needs the opposite.

Violent video games are currently protected by the First Amendment 8 8. Supreme Court, 2011 × , and although we can all agree that a game that simulates a school shooting should not exist, I believe we can also agree that our goal should be toward a world free from real-world violence, and using violent video games as a scapegoat to that only hurts our cause.

Violent video game use also decreases empathy. On the internet, it’s easy to see someone as just an avatar, a username, and not as a real human being. When the majority of an adolescent’s time is spent in this type of virtual environment, the impact on their development can be significant. It’s also common for problematic video game use to isolate, and isolation can be dangerous, for others and for oneself.

Tips for Parents:

  1. Review Games and Ratings: Be educated and informed on the types of games your teenagers are playing and whether or not they contain violence with Common Sense Media.
  2. Play Games Without Violence: Although 85% of games on the market contain some form of violence, there are many that do not. Search for games focused on adventure and story-telling instead of ones based on killing and competition.
  3. Avoid Isolated Gaming: Move gaming consoles and computers into a central area in the home so you are able to monitor gameplay.

Need help?

Reading this and struggling with a compulsion or addiction to gaming? You are not alone. Check out Respawn, a program specifically designed to help you quit gaming and take control of your life back. Backed by scientific research, join thousands of others like you who have quit gaming. Start your journey today.

The debate is hot, but what does research tell us?

TLDR;

This debate generates headlines in the press, but research proves gaming addiction irrespective of comorbidity factors such as anxiety or depression.

Gaming addicts who quit for 90 days found a 21% improvement to their psychological health.

When the World Health Organization officially recognized ‘Gaming Disorder’ in their International Classification of Diseases (ICD) 1 1. WHO, 2018 × , a common objection was that gaming is better understood as a coping mechanism for underlying mental health problems such as anxiety, depression, or attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and not a disorder in its own right. Is this true?

The short answer is no. Although this can be a tempting argument to believe, it’s simplistic, deceptive, and not based in research or clinical expertise. For instance, it is widely established 2 2. Müller & Wölfling, 2017 × that comorbidity—the simultaneous presence of two chronic diseases or conditions in a patient—is common, and gaming disorder is no exception. For some, gaming excessively will be a form of coping with another condition and may progress to a gaming disorder 3 3. Griffiths, 2017 × , comparable to the behavior of substance-related disorders, for others, gaming excessively will be a function of impairment.

Related: How to Overcome Escapism

Our own internal data shows 48% of gaming addicts meet criteria for moderate or more severe depression, an important number to be sure, but one that also proves less than half of gaming addicts to have comorbidity with depression. Other research has found internet addicts (porn, gaming) do not have other impulsive/compulsive disorders 4 4. Chamberlain, Ioannidis, Grant, 2018 × , debunking the claim that they always have pre-existing conditions.

What Came First?

Whether problematic gaming came first, or as a result of underlying mental health problems, therapeutic goals should include treatment of the gaming disorder itself because this disorder can be the underlying agent of functional impairment, and its treatment might be a prerequisite for effective treatment of comorbid conditions.

I have experienced this personally as I struggled with not only a gaming addiction, but also anxiety and depression, and to improve my anxiety and depression required me to remove gaming from my life. Others in our community report the same, and we’ve found that quitting gaming for 90 days improved psychological health by 21%.

Related: Gaming Helped Me Stay Sane, Then It Became a Problem

Many of those who struggle with a gaming disorder struggle with everyday responsibilities, and often this condition is associated with poor school or job performance. Quality of life has been found to be significantly impaired irrespective of whether individuals have comorbid impulsive/compulsive disorders 4 4. Chamberlain, Ioannidis, Grant, 2018 × , however those who have quit for 90 days have received a 2x improvement to their overall quality of life.

Is Controversy Helpful?

Although arguing that gaming disorder is merely a symptom of underlying mental health conditions generates headlines and gets your name printed in the press, it is not effective for improving the lives of those who struggle with this condition, and has the potential to cause significant harm.

Research shows the primary reason someone with problematic gaming will not seek help is due to stigma—the fear of being judged, dismissed, or misunderstood 5 5. Driver, 2014 × , all of which are heightened by this type of misinformation. Gaming addicts need to know that if they come forward to seek treatment they will be met with compassion. They need to know their concerns are valid, and that professionals are trained in diagnosis and treatment.

Video Game Addiction Quiz for Gamers

Need help?

Reading this and struggling with a compulsion or addiction to gaming? You are not alone. Check out Respawn, a program specifically designed to help you quit gaming and take control of your life back. Backed by scientific research, join thousands of others like you who have quit gaming. Start your journey today.

The World Health Organization officially recognizes ‘Gaming Disorder’ as a mental health condition 1 1. WHO, 2018 ×

TLDR;
  • 2.2 billion gamers worldwide
  • 3-4% are addicted
  • 18-24 year old males most at risk

Over two billion people play video games worldwide 2 2. Newzoo, 2018 × , including 150 million in the United States alone 3 3. ESA, 2015 × . Gaming is a worldwide phenomenon and $100 billion dollar industry 2 2. Newzoo, 2018 × that continues to grow year-after-year. Gamers are all ages, with the average age of a gamer being 35 years old 3 3. ESA, 2015 × . Gaming is gender-neutral, with 83% of teenage girls playing video games regularly and 92% of teenage boys 4 4. PEW, 2018 × .

What Is a Video Game Addiction?

Video game addiction is real, and the World Health Organization will soon officially classify it under the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11).

Gaming Disorder is characterized by a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behaviour, which may be online or offline, manifested by:

  1. impaired control over gaming (e.g., onset, frequency, intensity, duration, termination, context);
  2. increasing priority given to gaming to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other life interests and daily activities;
  3. continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences.
    The behaviour pattern is of sufficient severity to result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning.

The pattern of gaming behaviour may be continuous or episodic and recurrent. The gaming behaviour and other features are normally evident over a period of at least 12 months in order for a diagnosis to be assigned, although the required duration may be shortened if all diagnostic requirements are met and symptoms are severe.

3-4% of Gamers Are Addicted

For most, gaming is a fun hobby, but for others it can be destructive, leading to significant impairment in personal and family relationships, educational and work opportunities, mental and physical health, and overall well-being.

Related: The Benefits of Quitting Gaming

Studies have found anywhere from 1-10% of gamers struggle with compulsive addiction issues, with the World Health Organization finding 3-4% in their own investigations 1 1. WHO, 2018 × .

Demographics

Quick Stats:

  • Average age of a gamer: 35 years old
  • Average age of a gaming addict: 24 years old
  • Gender breakdown of a gamer: Male: 50%, Female: 48% 6 6. PEW, 2015 ×
  • Gender breakdown of a gaming addict: Make: 94%, Female; 6%
  • Ethnicity breakdown of a gamer (USA): Caucasian: 67%, Hispanic: 15%, African American: 12%, Asian: 5%, Other: 3% 7 7. Statista, 2015 ×
  • Ethnicity breakdown of a gaming addict: Caucasian: 69%, Asian: 13%, Other: 18%
  • Countries gaming addicts represent (to date): 92

Over Ten Million Addicted Gamers

With conservative estimates by the World Health Organization of 3-4% of gamers struggling with addiction challenges, there are can be tens of millions of addicted gamers worldwide, with this figure expected to continue to grow for the years to come. A large-scale study 5 5. CAMH, 2017 × in Canada recently found 13% of students grades 7-12 reporting symptoms of a video game problem, a 4% increase since 2007.

With tech companies continuing to pursue profits at all costs, including the integration of loot boxes and other gambling-like game design (of which governments in Belgium and the Netherlands have found to be illegal), and the introduction of college scholarships for esports (organized gaming), there is no time to wait to fight back against this issue.

Video Game Addiction Quiz for Parents

Join our Movement

Need help?

Reading this and struggling with a compulsion or addiction to gaming? You are not alone. Check out Respawn, a program specifically designed to help you quit gaming and take control of your life back. Backed by scientific research, join thousands of others like you who have quit gaming. Start your journey today.

Take a Stand

Game Quitters exists to help those who need help with gaming addiction challenges to get the help, and to spread awareness about the negative impact gaming addiction can cause. Want to help? Donate today.

The Benefits of Quitting Gaming

Taking 90 days off gaming has been scientifically proven to improve your quality of life by 2x 1 1. King, Adair, Saunders, Delfabbroa, 2018 ×

Over two billion people play video games worldwide 2 2. Newzoo, 2018 × , including over 150 million in the United States alone 3 3. ESA, 2015 × . For 90% or more of gamers it’s a healthy hobby and fun way to relax with friends. However, for the remaining 10% or less gaming can be destructive, and the World Health Organization estimates that 3-4% of these gamers struggle with an actual addiction to games 4 4. WHO, 2018 × .

Whether you are a gamer who wants to quit because you are struggling with an addiction, or you are simply curious about what life can be like without gaming, we hope the following data can be helpful for you in making your decision.

To quit gaming is to commit to living your life to the fullest. Not only will it increase the amount of time and energy you have to invest back into your goals and dreams, but there are numerous other benefits you can receive.

We asked hundreds of gamers to commit to not gaming for 90 days, and evaluated them across areas of their Quality of Life. Here were the results:

The Benefits of Quitting Gaming After 90 Days

+44%

Time Management

+29%

Concentration

+28%

School/Work Performance

+27%

Intimate Relationships

+16%

Family Relationships

+35%

Relationships with Others

+21%

Psychological Health

+35%

Optimism

+18%

Your Appearance

Want these benefits and so much more? Quit gaming today:

The World Health Organization has confirmed that they will move forward and officially recognize ‘Gaming Disorder‘ in the upcoming ICD-11. This is a huge victory for people who struggle with a video game addiction, and improves their ability to receive affordable and quality care.

NYT: Video Game Addiction Tries to Move From Basement to Doctor’s Office

What is a video game addiction?

Gaming Disorder is defined “as a pattern of gaming behavior (“digital-gaming” or “video-gaming”) characterized by impaired control over gaming, increasing priority given to gaming over other activities to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other interests and daily activities, and continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences.

For gaming disorder to be diagnosed, the behaviour pattern must be of sufficient severity to result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning and would normally have been evident for at least 12 months.”

The benefits of this decision:

  1. Improved accessibility to professional services, including the potential for services to be covered by insurance.
  2. Improved quality control. Currently there is no standard protocol for therapists and mental health professionals to follow for prevention and treatment of gaming addiction. Quality care begins with an official diagnosis and means of assessment.
  3. Reduced stigma and moral panic. Research shows stigma–the first of being judged, dismissed, or misunderstood–to be the biggest barrier to gaming addicts seeking help.

stigma

By officially recognizing gaming disorder, not only does that validate the experiences gaming addicts are having, encouraging them to seek professional support, but they can also be reassured that their concerns will not be dismissed when they do, as professionals will be properly trained on how to assess and treat this issue.

Not only that, but this decision is also good for healthy gamers. For too long it’s been possible to suggest that someone has a video game addiction based on your own subjective reasoning. No longer. We now have an official diagnostic criteria rooted in science and those concerned about someone’s gaming can trust a professional assessment.

Finally, this decision encourages researchers and mental health professionals to divert resources stuck in the debate about whether video game addiction is “real” or not, and instead invest them in finding effective treatment protocols, prevention models, comorbidity factors, and more. To recognize “gaming disorder” is not to take any legitimacy away from other mental health conditions or illnesses; it only furthers the important message that if you are someone who is struggling, we want you to seek help, and we want you to have the best evidence-based support available.

Personally, this decision has been a long-time coming.

I began sharing my story about gaming addiction 7 years ago, and for the most part, I was speaking into a void. It was a lonely road at times, but one where I constantly heard from thousands of fellow gaming addicts around the world that my work mattered and was helpful to them.

Today I’m so proud to share this major victory with you all. It’s an important milestone and one I know will help so many people around the world. This decision doesn’t change my work at all. I will continue to wake up every day and fight for the rights of gaming addicts worldwide. I will continue to use my voice and platform to share their stories, and use my gifts to improve the quality of care.

Thank you to those who have believed in me and supported our efforts over the last 7 years.

– Cam Adair
Founder of Game Quitters

Join our Movement

Care about this issue and want to help us help more gaming addicts around the world. Donate today.

Worried about your kid? Take a short quiz on Fortnite Addiction.

Fortnite is the hottest game in the world. A viral teenage obsession. In a recent talk to students in Brisbane, the crowd erupted when I mentioned Fortnite. Over 40 million people played it last month alone 1 1. Fortnite now has 125 million total players × . The Fortnite: World Cup has just been announced with over $100M in prize money 2 2. The first Fortnite World Cup with $100 million in prize money is happening in 2019 7 × .

So teenagers are playing a video game, what’s the big deal? Parents report losing their sons to Fortnite addiction 3 3. Parents are losing their sons to Fortnite, the hottest game in the world × – including one who emailed me that she discovered her son stole her credit cards and spent over $200 on the game.

In the U.K., a 9 year old girl has been sent to rehab 4 4. Girl, 9, in rehab for Fortnite game addiction after wetting herself to keep playing × for Fornite addiction, after wetting herself to keep playing. When her parents removed the game, she attacked them.

Should you be concerned about Fornite? And if you are, what can you do about it?

What is Fortnite: Battle Royale?

  • Rating: Players aged 12 and up.
  • Cost: Free. Battle passes available for purchase to earn extra rewards.

The multiplayer ‘Battle Royale’ version involves up to 100 people playing against each other and is the version your child is probably playing or wanting to play (as opposed to the Save the Day solo version which is also available but probably not the one your child is obsessing over).

It is a shooter game (of a similar vein as Hunger Games) where players are dropped unarmed onto an island. There, they must make their way to ‘houses’, where they find weapons they then use to shoot and kill, they build structures and try to avoid the destructive storm that threatens all outside its safe zone. The last player standing after all else are killed is deemed the winner.

Unlike many online games where you are ‘respawned’ should you die and are able to continue to play, keeping alive is the difference between winning and losing and means a lot more in Fortnite than in many other shooter games. 5 5. The Modern Parents Guide to Fortnite ×

Warning Signs of Fortnite Addiction

Video game addiction is real, and the World Health Organization has officially classified it under the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11).

Gaming Disorder is characterized by a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behaviour, which may be online or offline, manifested by:

  1. impaired control over gaming (e.g., onset, frequency, intensity, duration, termination, context);
  2. increasing priority given to gaming to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other life interests and daily activities;
  3. continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences.

The behaviour pattern is of sufficient severity to result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning.

The pattern of gaming behaviour may be continuous or episodic and recurrent. The gaming behaviour and other features are normally evident over a period of at least 12 months in order for a diagnosis to be assigned, although the required duration may be shortened if all diagnostic requirements are met and symptoms are severe.

Video Game Addiction Test

The American Psychiatric Association recommends a set of nine questions to screen for a video game addiction. Take our quiz below:

Video Game Addiction Quiz for Parents.

Common Mistakes Parents Make

Chances are, you’ve already tried countless things to help your teenager:

Here’s what you tried: You removed their devices, and took away the modem.

Here’s why it didn’t work: Your teenager throws a tantrum so intense you feared for their life. Maybe they even got violent. Your teenager also still needs access to the computer in order to complete their homework, so simply removing devices is only so realistic.

Try this instead: You must enroll them in the process. Taking away their access without supporting them to fill the void can be very dangerous for them. Your teenager must be part of the process! Learn more about this in Reclaim

Here’s what you tried: You told them their friends online weren’t their real friends.

Here’s why it didn’t work: Their online gamer friends are their real friends, and usually, their only friends. When you tell them to quit gaming, what they really hear is to stop having friends.

Try this instead: They need help making new friends outside of gaming. They don’t know where to start, or what to talk to people about other than gaming. Most kids at school play games. Help them join clubs and find new group activities.

Here’s what you tried: You told them games are a waste of their potential.

Here’s why it didn’t work: Gaming is where they feel a sense of accomplishment. When you tell them games are a waste of their potential, you’re not acknowledging the incredible accomplishments they have made in their games. “I wish they fully grasped the gravity of what I’ve accomplished in games over the years…” -Rushlite

Try this instead: By being curious, and learning more about the accomplishments of your son or daughter in their games, you will build rapport with them. Rapport creates trust, and trust creates influence. Start to have conversations about gaming – what games they play, what they enjoy about them, and so forth. Be genuine!

Here’s what you tried: You just let them continue to game, giving them responsibility for their decisions.

Here’s why it didn’t work: They are unable to moderate their time. They continue to game even amongst their knowledge that gaming is negatively impacting their life. 84% of gaming addicts knew they had a problem over 12 months ago!

Try this instead: Support them in improving their time management skills. Help them create environments conducive to their ability to focus, such as bringing them to the library to study. You have to be both parts equal support while not enabling their problematic behavior further.

Here’s what you tried: You bought them their new favorite game or console.

Here’s why it didn’t work: Games are specifically designed to hook your teenager. Gaming companies use state of the art practices, and behavioral psychologists to make their games as pleasurable (and addictive) as possible.

Try this instead: By understanding more about why your teenager is drawn to games, and how games are specifically designed to hook your teenager, you will be empowered to support your teenager to have a healthy relationship to gaming (and technology).

Extra Support for Parents

Cam’s book Reclaim is brilliant and is highly needed. We strongly recommend Reclaim to parents seeking help and solutions for their kids struggling with digital media overuse. – Andrew Doan, MD, PhD (author, speaker, and neuroscientist) and Julie Doan, RN (author, speaker, and life coach)

black woman

Are you exhausted from arguments about your teen or young adult’s gaming use?

Have you ever asked them to come for dinner… only to hear “one more minute!?”

We all know what happens next.

One minute turns into two, and then ten, and then twenty, and now your simple request for them to join the family for dinner has turned into a full blown fight.

You’re tired of nagging them to do basic things, of having simple requests turn into an all-out war.

They are a teenager, and you have become a babysitter.

If you’ve experienced any of the above, then this article is for you.

I will share a simple trick that will reduce the amount of arguments you have about their video games. It will seem obvious when I say it.

Not only that, but this trick will also help you build rapport, which is really important to help your teen or young adult reduce their gaming, and get their life back on track.

Video Game Addiction Quiz for Parents

When it comes to reducing their gaming time, you have two options:

  1. Remove their access.
  2. Enroll them in making positive changes.

If you are going with the latter then building rapport is essential. Rapport creates trust, and trust creates leverage. Leverage creates the opportunity for transformation.

The easiest way to build more rapport is to learn more about why they game. In previous articles I’ve shared the reasons why your son or daughter is drawn to gaming, but today I want to take that a step further.

I want you to learn more about the specific games they play, and how these games operate.

The reason this is important is because when you understand more about the games your son or daughter plays, it shows them you know what you are talking about. It will help you become an ally, someone on their team, instead of an adversary who ‘just doesn’t get it‘.

It will also help you navigate requests like for them to join you for dinner. For instance, did you know that most games have ‘natural pauses’ built into the game? This means there are opportunities in the game for your son or daughter to save the game, and not lose their progress.

Why They Refuse to Come for Dinner

The reason you meet so much resistance when you ask your son or daughter to come for dinner is because they are likely in the midst of a part of the game where they are unable to quit without losing progress. Or worse, if they are playing with other players (which most of them do), if they leave in the middle of the game, they ruin it for everyone else.

When games are a way to gain social status and prestige, ruining the game for everyone else is social suicide. Compare that to having one more argument with their parents – who don’t get it anyways – and you can see why it’s easy for them to justify their gaming.

Their reputation amongst their peers is far more important – no offense.

To avoid this scenario, learn more about the games they play and how they operate. For instance, are they playing a game where they play ‘matches’ with other players? This means there is a battle and usually, set time limit to the game. Let’s say that time limit is 30 minutes.

You know dinner is coming up so you let them know after this match they need to save and stop playing so they can come for dinner. Otherwise, if you ask them to come for dinner in the middle of the match you will meet a lot of resistance.

And you let them know that if they do start a new game then you will be turning off the wifi and they will lose their progress, and it will make them look bad in front of their peers. You let them know that you know how the game works.

Practical Steps

So how do you learn more about the types of games they play, and how these games operate?

First, ask them what games they play. What are they called? Do they play against other players? Do they have matches? How do the games work?

Next, you want to type the name of the game into YouTube with ‘gameplay’. For instance, if they play League of Legends, type ‘League of Legends gameplay’ or ‘League of Legends walkthrough’. There are thousands of videos on YouTube that will show you the game and how they operate. Look for if they have natural pauses, or ‘matches’.

Finally, next time you’re getting dinner ready, or you have another request for them, implement this advice. Ask them if they are in the middle of the match and how long it will take. Let them know they need to save the game at the end and they can come back to it later. Help them avoid losing their progress or social status. It will be a war to win that battle otherwise.

Although this trick will work well for a lot of parents, everyone’s situation is different, and if you feel their gaming is completely out of control, you may need to focus more on removing their access all together. Doing so requires sensitivity to the situation, and I always recommend to do so with the support of a professional.

Join our Support Group for Parents on Facebook for more support.

To learn more about video game addiction and how to reclaim your teenager or young adult, grab my parent’s guide.

Digital Detox Summercamp?

Spring break is here which means summer is just around the corner. One of the best ways to help your teenager get off screens this summer is by sending them to a summercamp! They will reconnect with nature, make new friends, and learn about the power of habits.

I’m an advisor to Summerland Camps and approve all of their clinical materials. Tell them you’re from Game Quitters and receive $100 off.

Game Quitters has partnered with E.P.I.C. (Everyday People Initiating Change) to build a third clean water well in Tanzania, Africa.

epic

In July 2018 I will be heading to Tanzania to oversee the project and ensure it’s a success. Below you will find the full details of the trip, including why it’s important and what the impact will be.

I just want to quickly say how excited I am, and that this is another step closer to fulfilling the vision we have for Game Quitters – to bring a community of people together to make a positive difference in the world.

We need your support to make it happen, so click here to support our mission of bringing clean water to Tanzania.

Last year’s video:

Why I’m involved:

For the past two years I have had the honor of going to Tanzania, Africa to build a clean water well with E.P.I.C. (Everyday People Initiating Change). Together as a community we have raised over $10,000!

While I have been there I have seen with my very own eyes the reality of their situation, and the importance of giving them access to clean drinking water. Without it, certain sickness, and possible death. (Charity Water reports 4,500 children die every day from water-related illnesses.)

Seeing the very real, and meaningful impact this work has, I knew we had to do it again this year. Will you join me? Pledge your support here.

What’s the impact?


Imagine waking up this morning to brush your teeth, but instead of turning on a faucet with safe and clean water to use, you dump your toothbrush in a bucket full of bacteria, mosquitoes and dirt.

That’s the reality of 1.1 billion people in the world who do not have access to safe and clean water. Contaminated water isn’t just gross, it also leads to diarrhea, the leading cause of child death in the world. More people die each year from unsafe water than from all forms of violence, including war.

We have the power to change this!

Each well provides water for about 500 people for 20 years, and we’ll also provide hygiene and sanitation education to the youth and women of the village in order to help ensure the projects sustainability.

This will make a real and lasting difference for people who deserve our support.

All donations will go directly to E.P.I.C. for the water well, including materials, testing, labor, implementation, training and maintenance.

A tax deductible receipt is available for the first $3,000 pledged.

Powerful Leadership:

On a personal level, this trip will help me become a better leader, to further my mission of positively impacting 10 million people in the next three years through Game Quitters.

We can’t do it alone and we need your support! Together we can make a difference.

Give clean water by clicking Donate Now.

Thank you for your support!

P.S. If you want to contribute, but “don’t have any money”, consider the example Euls set by selling his in-game skins in order to pledge $35. *If you are underage please consult with your parents first!*

camsig