VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Imagine spending 16 hours a day playing video games, lying about having a job and losing relationships with family and friends.
A man who hit the rock bottom of video game addiction is telling his story, and offering help to others with what can be a life-consuming habit.
Cam Adair created GameQuitters.com after dropping out of high school, living in his parents’ basement and gaming up to 16 hours a day.
“This is my own personal experience, so video game addiction was something that caused me to drop out of high school, never graduate,” he tells Breakfast Television. “While all of my friends were off to college I was actually living in my parents’ basement, gaming up to 16 hours a day.”
He says there are four main reasons he believes he became an addict. The first reason was to escape.
“I was bullied a lot so gaming allowed me to escape from my problems. The second is social connections. So gaming allowed me to socially connect and it was my entire group of friends.
Adair adds gaming also showed him “constant measurable growth”, and believed it gave him a purpose in life.
His gaming addiction eventually caused him to become depressed.
“…[I] pretended to have jobs, deceived my parents, and eventually I actually got to a point where I wrote a suicide note and that’s where I decided to make a change.”
Adair says the suicide note was when he realized he “no longer felt safe” with himself. “I no longer felt like I could prioritize my health or my well being.”
That’s when he reached out for help.
Despite his experience, Adair points out only one to 10 percent of serious gamers experience symptoms or addiction and withdrawal.
“If gaming is a positive thing in your life, if it’s not causing you to struggle at school with your grades or pretend to have jobs, or struggle with relationships, then it’s fine. But if it’s causing you to have a negative impact that’s really something you want to be watching out for.
“You also want to watch out for, you know, is it causing you to have withdrawal symptoms, anxiety if you’re not playing and things like that.”
According to the GameQuitters founder, 80 per cent of college students will at least occasionally play video games while in their post secondary.
His issue is that educators are doing nothing to prepare.
“Right now colleges are integrating e-sports, which is more organized gaming,” he says. “So you can actually, as a student now, get a scholarship to go be a gamer at school. And I actually think that’s a good thing, I’m a huge advocate for gaming as a healthy thing and I’m an advocate for people being able to earn money and all of that.
“And I also know that colleges refuse to bring me to come speak. They refuse to do any prevention work around this issue, and they’re not prepared for it.”
He believes not having a conversation about it and being ill-prepared is a dangerous move.
For anyone looking to beat a gaming addiction, Adair says it’s important to identify why they play and find a replacement activity to help deal with stress, to help reconnect and socialize.
If you think you may have a video game addiction or know someone who does, you can head to GameQuitters for more resources.