“I Played Up To 16 Hours A Day” – Interview with Cam Adair, gamequitters.com
We were lucky enough to spend some time with Cam, from gamequitters.com and interview him about his experiences with game addiction and how he helps people to overcome this problem. We hope you enjoy it!
Cam Adair – Game Quitters
Cam, you managed to stay away from game addiction – I think now more than 1,700 days – and you help thousands of people with your amazing website gamequitters.com. You developed a method to quit playing video games, it’s called Respawn.
What’s your background story…What was your life like before when you were addicted to playing games?
Growing up I was a fairly normal Canadian kid. I went to school, played hockey, and then I would go home and play video games. This was all good until the 8th grade when I started to experience intense bullying, things like being chased around school by kids trying to put me in a garbage can, or being spit on. These experiences caused me to check out from society. I no longer felt accepted by the kids at school or on my hockey team, so I dropped out of high school and retired from hockey, the game I loved more than anything else. My life was a complete mess. Instead of dealing with the adversity I was facing, I escaped into video games. I played up to 16 hours a day, and even began pretending to have jobs when my parents forced me to get one. I didn’t graduate high school or go to college.
Unfortunately, as much as gaming allowed me to escape the depression I was experiencing, it didn’t fix it, and eventually I wrote a suicide note. That’s when I realized I needed to make a change. And quitting gaming was the beginning of that – not because it was causing all of my problems, but it was the crutch, allowing me to avoid dealing with them. Quitting gaming was like ripping the bandaid off.
How did your system come about?
After I quit gaming I searched online for advice and found none… other than the shitty advice you’d get from a parent to “study more” (when the whole reason you’re playing video games is to avoid studying), or to “hang out with your friends” (when all of your friends play video games.) After my life improved I figured there surely had to be many others out there in the world who were struggling to quit as well, and I should share what worked for me. So I shared my story on a blog post called How to Quit Playing Video Games FOREVER. The response was incredible!
A few years later this turned into a TEDx talk and that had a big response as well. Even after four years all I had was one blog post and one TEDx talk, yet there still were no other resources available for people struggling with this issue. So I decided I had to do more and we launched Game Quitters, with a YouTube channel, online forum community, and the step-by-step system Respawn. Everything was really developed just through conversations with thousands of others who were struggling too, and seeing patterns amongst us all, and experimenting with various solutions.
Can you tell us in a few words how your system works?
We play video games for specific reasons – they fulfill specific needs we have. In my experience there are four main ones: Temporary Escape, Social Connection, Measurable Growth, and Purpose. Games allow us to escape, to connect with others, to see our progress (especially through instant gratification), and we always know what to do next. These are just human needs we have. They are neutral. So if you want to quit playing video games, you need to find healthier alternatives to fulfill these needs, otherwise you’ll just go to the next-best-crutch, which tends to be mindlessly browsing the internet, and so forth. Next, you need to be more aware of your time.
Gaming is your go-to activity whenever you have free time. It’s your habit, your autopilot response to boredom. So after you quit, you need to be much more intentional and aware with your time. Not only with the specific activities you’ll do instead, but also when you will do them. Using a calendar or daily agenda helps a lot.
It’s crucial that you avoid sitting around and being bored, because when you’re bored, you’ll justify gaming, since it can’t be worse than sitting around doing nothing… right? Finally, there is a brain chemistry component to all of this which you can learn more about here, but to recover from that I recommend a 90 day abstinence protocol – the 90 day detox.
Does your system work for other addictions, such as news, social media, gambling or porn?
Absolutely. Most addictions have many similarities. The system works best for any behavioural addiction, such as the internet, social media, gambling or porn, as these share the most commonalities and research is also similar amongst them, but I also had a member use the program to overcome an addiction to candy.
What tools do you recommend to complement your system?
Habit-tracking apps like Coach.me are fantastic. It’s recommend to track the # of days since you’ve quit because seeing that number grow will encourage you to keep going. Keeping a daily journal on the forum also makes a big difference, as journaling helps you reflect on your experience and process any emotions that are coming up. FocusMe is also a tool I recommend to help make the process easier by blocking any temptations to play.
What common challenges do your readers face?
Gaming has been a central force in their life for a long time, so when you remove it you’re creating a massive void in your life, not only in not knowing what else to do with your time, but you’re also likely to lose your friends, and that can be very difficult. It’s also common to experience intense cravings, withdrawal symptoms and nostalgia. Gaming meant something to them and moving on from it can be difficult, but it’s worth it.
Where can people find out more about your system?
Do you have any emergency advice for people who relapse?
No matter what you’re struggling with right now, going back to game is not going to fix your problems. Yes it’s hard, yes it’s frustrating, and yes you can overcome it. Get out of the house, go exercise, shift the energy in your body and remind yourself why it’s important for you to follow through with this. Reach out for support on Reddit. Finally, once you feel stable again, it’s very important that you take time to reflect on what happened just now – why were you feeling the way you were. Were you bored? Experiencing cravings? Did you watch a gaming stream? Read about gaming news? Identifying what happened to inspire you to want to play goes a far way to help you avoid that situation in the future. If you’re ever close to a relapse, watch this video.
I love vanilla ice-cream, if you want call it an addiction. Is there something you are still addicted to?
My phone 100%. It’s something I’m increasingly mindful of and I consciously take time to turn it off or leave it in the other room, but being connected online with social media is something I have to be very cautious of, as it’s easy for it to get out of control. It’s different to me than gaming, but I hope as I uncover more of how to improve this area of my life, I’m able to share the lessons I’ve learned with others.
Finally, I love to connect with people, so if you’re reading this feel free to reach out with a comment or question. I response to everything! You can find me on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, YouTube, or email me directly here. Thanks for having me!
You gave us a personal and deep insight in your own challenge of quitting gaming. Helping other people who are in the same situation makes you a real ‘Game-Changer’! A BIG Thank You from FocusMe for what you do!