Escaping video game addiction: Cam Adair at TEDxBoulder

Escaping video game addiction: Cam Adair at TEDxBoulder


Translator: Géraldine Géraldine
Reviewer: Queenie Lee For over ten years,
I was addicted to playing video games. This addiction affected
many areas of my life, including being a major
influence in my decision to drop out of high school
at the age of 15. Eventually, my parents got on my case
to get a job, so I got one. I say “got” because I pretended
to have a job for months. Every morning at 7 a.m.,
my dad would drop me off at the restaurant where I was a prep cook. After he drove off, I’d walk across the street
and catch the bus back home, sneaking in through my window
and going to sleep. I’d been up all night playing video games. The truth is I didn’t want
to do these things – I just did. The addiction controlled the behavior. Three years ago,
I decided to make a change. I just moved back home to Calgary, Canada,
from living on Vancouver Island, and I couldn’t get over this feeling
of immense disappointment in myself. I moved to Vancouver Island
inspired to take on new challenges, only to be left playing video games
16 hours a day for five months straight. I felt like a failure, and unfortunately,
this was a feeling I knew too well. So I did what anybody would do: I Googled it! And the answers I found – (Laughter) (Applause) and the answers I found
were incredibly frustrating. There were suggestions
like “study more,” when the whole reason I was playing
video games was to avoid studying, or to hang out with friends
when all my friends played video games. Not knowing what else to do,
I decide to quit cold-turkey, and after a few months, I learned key lessons that led
to major breakthroughs in my recovery. And knowing others
were struggling with this addiction, I decided to share my story. I wrote a blog post online titled
“How to quit playing video games forever,” and the response: overwhelming. But is video game addiction
really that big of a problem? I mean, we are talking
about video games here. Sure, I had my own
personal experience with it, but did this problem scale,
or was I just one of the unlucky ones? Current research suggests
that 97 percent of youth play video games, which equates to 64 million kids,
in the US alone, between the ages of 2 and 17, with the fastest-growing age
were kids aged 2 to 5. In the UK, 10% more kids aged 2 to 5 know
how to operate a smartphone application, then know how to tie their own shoes. Unfortunately, the debate
surrounding video games focuses on whether you should play or not, when that’s like saying
should you drink or not, if you can do it
in moderation, that’s fine. But what if you can’t, what if right now
you are stuck at home playing video games, and you want to stop and don’t know how. Imagine for a second
how this makes you feel. Do you feel a sense of pain? What about feelings of guilt, shame,
do you feel confident, anxious, depressed? Now, this wouldn’t be a good TEDx talk
unless I shared the lessons I learned and how you can use them to help yourself or someone you know
overcome this addiction. It’s not about the games;
it’s about why you play the games. If you can understand why you play games,
you can move on from them. There are four main reasons
why you play games. First, they are a temporary escape. After a tough breakup at the age of 18, playing games online
gave me the perfect way of not having to deal with the situation. I could simply get absorbed in games
and play for hours and hours. Second, games are social. Staying home on a Friday night
doesn’t seem so bad when you are at home playing games
with your friends online. Not only that, but games offer
a clean slate on the social ladder. Being bullied when I was younger didn’t exactly leave me feeling
very confident in my social standing. I felt misunderstood, unaccepted,
and unsure how to fix it, even though I want it too. Playing games online
gave me this opportunity; I could be who I wanted to be;
nobody knew my history, and I was judged based
on my ability to play the game and not on my current social standing. Third, games are a challenge. They give you a sense of purpose,
a mission, a goal to work towards. This is an achievement paradigm, achievements multiply the opportunities
to experience success. Finally, you see constant
measurable growth. This is a feedback loop.
You get to see progress. When you are at school, you struggle
to improve your social standing, but online you are able to see rewards
for the efforts you’ve put in. Consider how it feels when you’re finally
able to see progress in something; consider how it feels when you are able to see that the goal
you’ve set out for is achievable; combine these four areas,
and you have a very addicting process. So where do we go from here?
How do we fix this problem? Video game addiction
is a habit developed over time by becoming your go-to activity
whenever you’re bored. So parents, it starts with you. I’m sorry to say, but the iPad
is not the new babysitter. They need interaction, not entertainment.
Next, game was played for various – (Applause) Next, games were played
for very specific reasons. Identify their motivations and help them
find these in other activities, help them with their social skills. The truth is they struggle
to make friends. Lastly, don’t punish them
for their desire to play these games. Come from a place of compassion
and encouragement, not judgment. We are so caught up in asking
whether this is a real addiction or not that we’ve lost sight
of what truly matters: How do we help these people
stop playing video games? But there is another way. The truth is this is about the idea of feeling trapped in something
you want to move on from. It’s about the freedom
to live the way that you want and on your own terms, and sometimes all you need is permission. Permission to move on from something
you want to move on from. Permission to stop playing video games. So if you’re out there, whether in the audience
or watching at home, I want you to understand one thing:
you have permission. Thank you. (Cheering) (Applause)


100 thoughts on “Escaping video game addiction: Cam Adair at TEDxBoulder

  1. Gaming is actually great for the nervous system and for your brain. It's also best at reducing stress hormones significantly, unless you rage ingame. Reduction of stress hormones equally increases the growth hormones, which are crucial for building muscles. It also benefits your mental health (again, unless you rage ingame). So as long as you take a 1h-2h exercise a day, eat healthy food, have a stable job/income, sleep 6-7h and hang out with your friends at least 3 times a week, you can play 8h a day if you want and it will actually benefit you.
    Just learn not to rage.

  2. When did addiction move from being dependant on a chemical reaction, to just liking something a lot and being lazy?

  3. I was addicted to videogames for 14/15 years due to a unstable family and being bullied nonestop… Just this year I noticed it was hazardous to my health I eventually ditched the family a year ago my sight was going really downhill I felt numbness from normal situations feeling of fatigue not wanting to speak or associate with anyone including my fiancé… the past few current weeks I've been staying away I feel reborn no stress no drama to hide away from… I feel like the old me again if you enjoy games please do it in moderation I learned that this has very negative effects on your personality and health

  4. Video games are like everything else. We like doing fun things, but anything, even something fun, taken to an extreme can cause harm. But we need fun in our lives. I knew a guy addicted to football. And his addiction hurt his job, social life, etc just as much as any other addict.

  5. What is the big problem with gaming the only problem is that gaming affects your life? Buuuuut what is if you are a streamer on twitch and play maybe 8 – 10 hours a day? It is your job to play video games and you earn a good living doing it. I am one of these people and I am 13 I just love playing video games sooooo is that a problem?

  6. I think, as in any other discussion about addiction, it is very important to know when you're crossing the line between high consumption and addiction, or wether you should see it more like a spectrum rather a line.
    In my case, I've been in love with video games ever since I was 5, now I'm 24 and still play them on a daily basis, and probably have never gone more than a few days straight without playing them. I went through school with good grades most of the time (though while feeling I could always do better), have been talented and various different things such as writing, playing music, arts, etc, but never fully developing any of those talents. I completed a major in college and am about to complete a second one, I have a loving girlfriend, etc. I play about an hour every day when In studying, and more when I've got the chance, although there are periods in my life where i've played, 2, 3, 5, 10 hours a day without even realizing it. I know I coould've achieved a lot more in my life if i had dedicated all those thousands of hours to something, but at the same time, I gotten a lot of joy out of video games, I see them as a form of art and I just feel happy while playing them. However, I get depressed when I realize all the things I could've done with all that time, and end up in a sort of cycle.
    While I don't consider my life in any way destroyed, I do know I could achieve much more, and while I know I could achieve much more, I enjoy my time in gaming greatly.
    Where should the line be drawn?

  7. My addiction is YouTube i can lose myself in a game. But it's realy easy to stop playing for me because I mostly play single player games. However with YouTube i can waste hours ulon hours on pointless videos.

  8. Started my first day wish me luck x been a gamer since birth at 24 I've decided to call it a day, I was decent at them too will miss the t500 finishes on overwatch but time to see the real world 💪

  9. It's Clash Royale on my phone & now Brawl Stars .. so now I have 2 games on my phone that I literally can't stop playing for hours. I try deleting them only to reinstall them when I need a distraction. I can't just "decide" to stop, I've tried so many times for years & I keep falling back in to the same pattern. What if you're not a social person, but an introvert? I've been trying to become a stock trader for 2 years now & I really want to get better but I end up getting frustrated & spending the next 5 hours on my phone playing video games instead of facing my issues. I sit in the bathroom at night for over an hour instead of going to bed with my girlfriend because I can't stop playing the game. Even as I'm playing Ill tell myself I'm wasting my life.. but it doesn't stop me from ignoring myself & continuing playing. My will power to stop hardly exists. I should have been asleep 3 hours ago but played my Damn game over & over &over until I'm ashamed & looked up this video .. which sadly I feel didn't help me :-/

  10. I've realized i had video game addiction, the thing is, it isn't as extreme as to cheat my parents to play or about time one to two hours a day and more like three on the weekend but because of the way it interacted with me. I give up easily on things when i don't see any improvement plus with overwatch, a very competitive game the "skill" is something very seductive. Add that to the fact it helped me escape my poor grades (making them even worst because i wasn't doing my homework anymore). I really realised it a few days ago because i saw the impact it had on my mind. I was only thinking about the game and how to improve and i completely stopped me from sleeping because my mind was way too occuped by it. So now i'll try my best following your advices. Geez it feels good talking about it.

  11. Video games have been the number one major problem in all of my relationships. Balancing time and attention with my partners and playing video games has just never gone well. And after nearly loosing my third partner to this problem, I think it’s time to hang up the controller

  12. 6 years late comment: I believe video game addiction is real but I fear that every gamer, especially the young ones, are going to be labeled as an addict for just playing like a normal person. I study, get decent grades (average B-C student), work out, eat healthy, keep up with hygiene, yet my parents already consider me an addict only because I decide to play video games during my free time. I don't want this to happen to anyone else.

    It's extremely rare that anyone becomes an addict to video games (0.3% of a chance last time I looked). There are even workaholics in every other workplace yet no one really talks about that kind of addiction. Sure, if your kids start skipping meals and wetting their pants just to play more video games, then yeah, they could be addicted. But, if your kid is just playing video games for a few hours a day and still gets everything else done (homework, chores, etc.) I'd say that's pretty normal and you shouldn't punish him/her for just playing a video game.

    Trust me, parents overreact to this all the time and sometimes they do it on purpose because they love the feeling of being right and in control, especially today (2019) with the Fortnite and Apex trend going on and the shootings with politicians blaming video games for the violent acts (it's proven to not cause violence fyi).

  13. You could be addicted to video games, as long as you have good education, and grades. Remember this. And also you should spend your life, not playing a game for 4 hours your eyes not resting. Life is short.

  14. I don't understand. Video games are amazing! I love to spend entire DAYS playing video games, cause I think it's fun! I just make sure to take a break atleast every hour to excersise or stretch!

  15. When I met my long distance boyfriend he told me that he used to be addicted that he even dropped out of college because of it and then he managed to stop playing.. now almost 4 months into our relationship he’s playing video games again and barely even talking to me when we Skype. I was telling him about my day and he literally said something in the middle of when I was talking and then I asked and he said he wasn’t talking to me. This has happened several times. I love him very much but I feel these video games are affecting our relationship. He is going to back to college but he hasn’t been going to class, he also doesn’t have a current job. I don’t know what to do. He also gets upset and says I always want his attention..

  16. I know I’m super late, but bro, if you played that long and what not, you should’ve just streamed and tried to at least get paid for it in some way.

  17. but what if you don't have any friends and you use video games to escape from social judgment or being criticised by others?

  18. I think my husband has a video game addiction. He will play at over 12 hours a day and not heat unless I am home to feed him. We first met and bonded over physical activities an outdoor stuff, now the only thing he wants to do is play Call of Duty and I hate that. I tried to tell him that it changes his health in personality but he just gets angry I don't know how to tell him in a way that he will understand

  19. HI. I have just closed a game a came in here, 3rd vid I have seen. I am studying Ing and for diferente circunstancies I have started the year wrongly, right after I said "this year Will be the good one" a bunch of things came to my life. Family problems I was delivered to solve, My sweet cat developed cancer and I was taking care of her. During 2 weeks, non stop vet visits, so stressed and she end up dying anyway. Broke my heart. After that I had to find another baby cat to help my other cat, to not feel so lonely since I had to leave for study. Then that cat got ill, same symptoms as the dead one. Eventually everything solves up and I realized I am 1 Month behind and have to do such a big effort to catch up and I don't want to and feel angry. Because I felt I was really commited to not end up this way. So I found myself playing video games all day, sometimes loosing, sometimes winning. Just stopping 15 mins in between to eat and check up on the other game. And thinking everytime a round finishes "I have to study", and start again. I lie about it, I hide how many times I play by playing with different accounts. I wake up at 5 AM and start playing, shower at 7 pm, 2 hours before my boyfriend comes home, so It would look like I have done something out or wathever. I feel awful. Then he comes, without knowing anything and ask me if I want to play and I just cry inside because I really don't want to go on like this. Then I Say yes, because I know I can't do anything else knowing he is playing because my mind is thinking about it every second.
    I know I can stop this by deleting the game and I Will do it right now. I just wish I could be strong enough to have it and control myself.
    Lastly, I want to say thank you. That last sentence Made me cry and I don't even know why but thank you for letting me know I have permission. I feel I really needed to have it. Sorry for the bad English, writing from Argentina.

  20. It hurts when ppl find gaming addiction humorous. Ppl are hurting, and ppl want to be condescending about it. My husbands addiction lead him to get physical to me and my kids. When he was losing or when he was interrupted by our toddlers, he would get so mad. I could go to know one cos no one is equipped to help. No one takes it seriously. And telling me to join him so it could help my marriage was a kick in the teeth.

  21. I don't want to waste time playing games but it seems so sad not to experience my childhood games again. Never to level up in World of Warcraft again, never play attack power Malzahar in league of legends again and never get a legendary card in hearthstone again..

  22. I play games for hours a day… and the only reason why I play is literally because I'm bored all the time.
    Video games are also fun and I love talking with my friends.

  23. A really nice talk. I played video games all my life and I've been able to enjoy it healthily for the most part, however there are times where it does get a little too much or when I should be focusing on other things. So I'll definitely be trying to adjust my gaming to manage it in moderation a bit more. This speech was very eye opening, well done!

  24. Videogames addiction is awful. But playing video games like a normal human being for like an hour (MAYBE two? don't know) a day and after these hours say "ok im gonna stop now and i'll do something else" is absolutely healthy. You can't control your hobby? that's your problem,it's not the hobby that is at fault, but your personality and character.

  25. The amount of babies and kids I see that play with iPads at restaurants is sad. They aren't part of the family. These parents aren't aware.

  26. I'm a gamer but I spend time with my family and talk to my girlfriend and even read novels. So guess I can say I'm not addicted 😂. Glad u guys are doing other things rather then jus game.

  27. There should be a game that helps you stop game addiction:
    Achiements unlocked for hours not playing said game.
    Achievement unlocked for staying at level 1 for 7 days straight.
    Achievement unlocked for not beating the game for 12 months straight.
    Congratualations, you've now beaten the game.

  28. Just standing in the mirror at midnight and say to yourself: I quit,
    Now with all the remastered & re-hash game releases it's now a great moment to stop gaming
    Glad i'm addicted to weightlifting

  29. Moderation is key. If youre playing more than lets say 2 hours a day, then it can easily become an issue sooner or later and create health problems. Video games, as much as you might love them, just as me, should not become a full time activity or overdued. Millions of people are in that condition and dont even realize it. Just like i was. Nowadays i set a time limit per day to play. I set alarms till after 2 hours after i started playing and i respect those alarms religiously. Not only i enjoy games even more now during my game session as i also have time to improve my being in many other fields that make me healthier. Discipline your mind, guys. Can be tough but totally worth it and doable! 🙂

  30. Not real sure how this video was supposed to help. It's just like the Google responses he said he received. It's like saying go out and ride a bike to someone who's never ridden a bike before or telling a drug addict to go out and enjoy all the things they enjoy doing but without drugs.

  31. I do it for the social aspect. Im forced into moderation but i believe that it is causing more problems due to me being constantly thinking about it. I do have friends irl, but unless its in school, I usually am not leaving the house and therefore only see them online. Not only that, its just that you can make friends who will only judge you on your personality due to anonymity. So therefore like many, my personality online is vastly different than in real life. Due to me being 14, I am unable to drive and I don’t have options to leave the house so video games are basically all i enjoy doing after I have been bored of other mediocre activities. There are other things I can do, its just they don’t last for long, such as practicing my instrument, exercising, reading, fishing (occasionally), but if not playing games on my computer, I end up just watching movies.

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