Cam Adair: Tackling Mental Health Issues in Gaming


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The latest episode of Martin Lycka’s Safe Bet show sees Martin sit down for a conversation with Cam Adair, the founder of Game Quitters, the world's largest support community for video game addiction.

Cam has been published in Psychiatry Research, and has an impressive list of credits including two TEDx talks, NPR, BBC, Forbes, ABC 20/20, CNN, VICE, and Bloomberg, amongst many others.

Cam tells Martin about his history of competitive hockey, and the skills and mindset he’s been able to take from that into his career. Adair also touches on the Evander Kane story, and the impact of gaming and mental health issues related to gaming among amateur and professional athletes.

The two also get into Cam’s ventures with Game Quitter and Know Your Game (a project on which he’s working with Martin), his thoughts on Esports, the future of the Esports revolution, and whether it can rival traditional sports in the future.

Finally, Martin gets Cam’s thoughts on gaming disorder being added to the WHO’s ICD-11 list, what gaming and gambling companies can do to help with prevention of mental health issues, and the role that parents and loved ones have to play in combating these problems.

00:11 - Intro

01:41 - Cam’s love of Ice Hockey, including playing competitive hockey for over 15 years, what skills did Cam learn from hockey that he’s been able to take into mental health coaching? The skills they learned in hockey can make them more successful in business and other ventures, taking the mindset through in life. Helped him with mental preparation, being able to show up and perform even if you’re injured or tired.

04:20 - The importance of helping athletes such as Evander Kane, recently in the news due to accusations of betting on his own games, through addiction problems. The impact of gaming in recent years on athletes and sportsmen, importance of education for amateur and professional athletes.

06:54 - Cam’s view on sports teams etc. banning video gaming when away with the team. Athletes being able to use gaming to stay in touch with friends and family back home, get them through lockdown/quarantine vs the potential negative effects it can have. For many individuals it’s a positive, whereas for others it’s disruptive. What impact will Esports have as more young people attempt to become professional gamers? How long before we see the impacts?

09:35 - Where will the esports revolution lead? And can it take over traditional sports in popularity? The power of Esports to have new games quickly become hugely popular, for example despite being a relatively new game, the Fortnite world cup is one of the biggest events in esports. The exponential growth of Esports could see it rise above traditional sports in prominence and popularity.

13:22 - The ‘darker’ side of video gaming/Esports, Cam at the forefront of the fight against mental health problems in gaming, gaming disorder recently being added to the ICD-11 (International Classification of Diseases), by the WHO. Importance of meeting each person as an individual and looking at how to help them, rather than judging whether their condition is valid. The rise in acceptance of a conversation around the topic of mental health in the gaming community. Over 3 billion active gamers worldwide, meaning a diverse group, wide range of potential conditions.

17:25 - Is there anything else the gaming and gambling companies can do to help/incentivise gamers to come forward regarding their mental health issues? Gaming community itself is the first line of defence, recognising in other gamers the mental health issues and encouraging them to seek help. Utilising more technological preventative measures, and marketing initiatives.

21:00 - Game Quitters, what the objectives of the organisation are, took the opportunity to encourage other gamers with mental health issues, trying to create a space to have these discussions among peers, evolving to a YouTube channel with resources from a forum, a platform for parents of gamers

22:40 - The role of parents and loved ones in helping those who are suffering with mental health issues. What more can be done to help loved ones identify problems and mental health issues, in particular from a training and education aspect? Parents needing more education, and needing it earlier on, needs to be more widespread. Parents also need to take it more seriously, need to set boundaries and screen-time limits.

27:00 - Are we slaves to our screen? And what impact does it have if so? Cam not being a fan of such extreme terminology, important for everyone to find their own balance, and remember it’s a work in progress.

30:00 - Cam’s key messages in 60 seconds, not about if an activity is good or bad, more about your own personal relationship with the activities, and how they interact with your life. Know that you’re not alone if you are suffering, ask for help, there’s no shame in it.

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