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Cam Adair

October 2015 Progress Report

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Hey Cam,

First, I didn't know you did this each month, so I just wanted to say that I think this is very cool. I respect the transparency as it's something I value as well. Thanks for putting this together.

Second, if I'm understanding the report correctly, it sounds like you only have 1 month left of runway left at the moment (you said you had 2 left at the end of September?). Does that imply that if Gamequitters isn't cashflow positive by the end of the month, it won't be viable? Or does it just mean that your strategy will have to change? I understand if you don't want to address this at this time, just curious about what the reality is.

Sorry to hear that October was rough for you man. When you're the one dispensing the advice that I find so useful, it's easy to think everything is smooth sailing for you, and lose sight of the fact that of course you're dealing with your own challenges of having to run a business. But of course that's life.

I'm sure you'll address it in the future, but I am eager to see what the way forward will be for Gamequitters. Hopefully our community will continue to grow. And if there is anything that I can do to help, let me know.

 

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Cam,

I love this site and want so badly for it to continue.  The impact it has had on my life has been drastic.  I've only had this kind of impact in my life less than ten times in my 32 years.  Please give me some small thing I can do help you out.  I'm really busy as a person, but I want to try to give just a bit more.  Even if you just want to PM somebody how you feel, I'd be happy to be somebody you could talk to.

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Thanks for the questions guys!

You are correct that I have 1 month of runway left, but at the end of the month that won't have an affect on Game Quitters itself, more of just an affect on me and how I can spend my time. Currently we're meeting the basic operating expenses to run the website, so there's no risk on that end, and I do believe that the community is growing at a quality pace for the long-term success of the project, so it's just a matter of buying myself more time. Hopefully with the launch of Respawn v4 this month we will be in a better position to bridge the gap in the meantime.

I know in the future for example, that I will have much more revenue from speaking engagements, but these are still 6-12 months away from being more consistent (and thus a dependable source of revenue), so at this point we're just at a point in our growth where we need to survive the next 6-12 months while the community continues to grow before some of the larger initiatives hit their stride. This isn't anything unique to Game Quitters and is a regular creative problem all businesses have to deal with.

How you can help:

One of the main things I'm trying to figure out now is how to reach more gamers who are likely struggling with this issue who do not know our community exists. I do think we have a compassionate way to approach the gaming community (every gamer knows someone who games too much), where we do not blame gaming but instead recognize that it was getting to a point of no longer being in control.

So one thing I think we could do is start doing more outreach in the gaming community. I think a good place to start would be gaming forums. I know we had a thread on Team Liquid back in the day (Trigger warning: Thread here.) where we opened up the discussion about this topic and I responded to comments. That helped bring a lot of exposure to the TEDx talk (and thus the Game Quitters mission). This is something we could replicate more often.

One key note here is that the member who posted that thread was a respected member of the community (also a friend and old client of mine). I don't have these reputations on the various gaming forums, so if you do have a good reputation on a gaming forum, this is a similar strategy we could work out. You can post a thread similar to the one I've linked and I can get in there and leave quality comments in the discussion. It tends to be a red flag (self-promotion) if I post the thread myself (user with 1 post).

At this point you both have contributed financially (that means a lot and makes a difference) and you're posting and being an active member of community (which helps others see they are not alone and encourages them to get involved too - which is how the community grows), so at this point I think finding creative ways to share the community and gain more exposure to those who may be struggling in silence is something we want to work more on.

What do you guys think? Any other ideas? 

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I definitely want to see the community grow and I would like to contribute to that. :)

First, I agree that outreach to gaming communities is going to be really important. This seems to be like the #1 way we're going to get new members, frankly. I don't know what outreach you do currently or have done in the past. How did you first start building an audience? I guess it came from the surge of interest that the original article generated? Ultimately it doesn't matter how much content you create if no one is being linked to it (although good content will spread naturally by word of mouth of course, but both factors are important).

I read over the first page of the thread you linked, and that is very enlightening. Granted, it's a pretty hardcore gaming site, but the first page is chock full of skepticism. Cam, I think that you're fully aware that this is a controversial issue amongst gamers, and as you say we have to approach it compassionately. I think we have to be careful how we do outreach because if the issue is framed the wrong way it won't be received well, and people will be turned off. It seems like a delicate thing. We want to avoid coming across anti-fun, or dogmatic, or irrational, or preachy, etc. Gamers are intelligent, and thus good at rationalizing and argument (I know, because I'm like this). Also, people don't seem to like the word 'addiction', and it sparks a lot of controversy and confusion ("Can you even be addicted to games? What is addiction really, anyway?" etc). Ultimately it's a red herring, and people don't like to be told that they're addicts or that they have a problem. When something is a core part of your identity, even if it's negatively impacting you, you're going to resist any suggestion that you should be giving that up, because it's perceived as a personal attack. And ultimately of course it's not our place to say that someone should stop gaming; we just want to raise awareness surrounding the issue in a polite and respectful way and let people make their own decisions.

To brainstorm, I think we can break down different demographics of gamers with respect to quitting:

  1. Gamers for who gaming is a problem, and they know it.
  2. Gamers for who gaming is a problem, and they don't know it (haven't thought about it, having connected the dots, haven't been exposed to research on brain changes, haven't spent time thinking about what they want out of life and how gaming might interfere with that, or people who think that they have problems but don't see how gaming distracts them from addressing those problems, etc etc)
  3. Gamers for who gaming isn't a problem (epistemological status irrelevant :P).

How to tell if gaming is a problem for not in someone's life is an entirely different conversation, of course. But for this discussion, let's consider these three groups.

I think that your "How to quit video games forever" article appeals to Group 1. It took me a while, but ultimately I slipped from Group 2 to Group 1 as I became more aware of how gaming affected me. I had known about r/stopgaming for a while, but I only started reading it after I realized that gaming was problematic for me in a serious way. Then the content appealed to me and here I am. So the top priority for growing the site would probably be to market to Group 1 since they're low hanging fruit and just need to be connected to us.

 

And Group 3 of course just isn't really the group of people we're trying to reach. If they game and they're happy with their lives, then who we to tell them that they should change?

 

But I think Group 2 is important and interesting. I'm not sure that Group 2 would be receptive to the article. It's a "how to quit video games" not a "Why you should consider quitting video games" article. If they see it they might think "well, I don't need to know how, because I don't have a reason to quit". There certainly people out there who are a silent group who game out of habit and comfort but don't have a ton of direct awareness of how it's playing a problematic role in their lives. This was me for years. I've always been drawn to self-improvement, but I just honestly didn't understand how gaming was negatively affected me, socially and physiologically/neurologically. I didn't realize they were keeping me from my goals, because I had never stopped to seriously consider what my goals were. I told myself I was happy, even if I wasn't. Had there been a message of "here's how you can benefit from quitting video games" out there, I would have probably been receptive to it, and that would have helped me. Currently, I don't know that that is a clear message from this site - it really only caters to someone who already knows they have a problem, someone in Group 1. Group 2 is probably the most defensive group about the topic when it's brought up, because they have an issue but haven't admitted it to themselves on some level .

For Group 2, I think the goal should be to create content, maybe an article or a video, that makes it clear why video games can be problematic. In your original article you state:

I think we can all agree that they are also a major cause as to why you lack the skills necessary to attract women, network, and live the life you want to live, instead of the one where you feel stagnant procrastinating at home night after night.

But I'm not sure that we can all agree; I don't know that I would have agreed a with that 6 months or 1 year ago. I think an article that spelled this out instead of just assuming it as a premise would be helpful for some. You do have this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XblubKPP8zI which raises a lot of good points, but if I were trying to convince someone on a forum, for example, I don't know that linking this video would be a successful approach. In the video you sort of dismiss the question of why someone should quit - understandably, if someone is emailing you that question, I can see why you might chuckle because it's almost like they just want to be convinced to quit or like they want permission to do so. But if we do outreach on a forum and someone asks why they should quit, they probably don't want to be told that their question is 'hilarious' as that might come off as condescending (and not really compassionate). I feel like you obliquely come at why someone should quit in all of your materials, but you don't have a definitive, dedicated resource detailing how gaming can be harmful and problematic and why someone should consider quitting. Based on your background, where you were gaming 16 hours a day - yes, it's clear how gaming is a problem. If you're that person, you're either already in Group 1 or really lying to yourself. But I think most people aren't at that extreme end of the spectrum, and it's easier for them to rationalize it to themselves and not see the issue.

In this article http://gamequitters.com/why-you-should-quit-gaming/ you do have this section:

Why you should quit gaming:

The reason I quit gaming was because it was having a negative impact on my life. Even though I had fun playing games, I wasn’t necessarily happy, and honestly I just came to a point in my life where I realized my happiness was too important for me to continue to procrastinate on.

I just had different priorities. I wanted to focus on other goals. Just because I could continue to play games didn’t mean I had to. And I knew if I was really going to start going after these other goals I had, I would have to remove my crutch – gaming – from my life.

I think this could be expanded upon and fleshed out, and turned into a new resource somehow. I think this line of thinking is what I sense is a missing component from the current general message of the site. IMO, this message should exist in some form on the home page.

 

Anyway, I hope this makes sense. I know you have spent waaaaaay more time thinking and talking about this stuff than I have, so I could be off base here, but this is my current impression of things. What do you think? Do people agree/disagree? Ultimately, getting people from Group 2 to Group 1 is going to be super important to continue growing the site, so I think it's something that deserves real thought.

Edited by kortheo

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Awesome feedback. You're definitely right about creating a resource to appeal more to Group 2. Nowadays I believe I have the content, empathy and message to be able to speak more to this group than I have in the past, having the research to back up our content, etc.

Do you think someone in group 2 would be receptive to a "Why you should quit gaming" type post? The concern I have is that this group will be more sensitive to the common "gaming is bad for you", "gaming is affecting your health" narrative, which although the content of it can be along those lines (positioned in a non-aggressive way as I do in my videos), but I wonder about the title/general theme of the post.

What about "Why you should consider taking 90 days off gaming" or "If you're playing more than 21 hours of gaming/week, read this." (anything over 21 hours is when someone is entering the danger zone).

Or are those too aggressive? What would be some less aggressive alternatives?

This post has a good way to outline the different groups as well.

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I remember the moment I first quit gaming cold turkey. I was generally not satisfied with my life and stumbled upon the article How to quit video gamings forever on Kingpin Social. There were no external factors whatsoever to help me quit gaming. It was all my intrinsic motivation. If it were not for the first article I stumbled upon googling how to quit gaming, I probably wouldn't be there. That being said, I do think marketing is an issue. As kortheo mentioned in his post, we have to move gamers from group 2 into group 1. I don't really know to reach these type of gamers. The article on Kingpin social definitely hit home to me. Sure you could post an article like 'Unhappy with your life? Read this?' on gaming sites, but I doubt there would be positive response. You would directly approach hundreds or thousands of gamers though, maybe it's worth a try? I'm suprised there was such a constructive discussion on Teamliquid forum.
I feel like approaching gamers in group 2 would be a hard task. I think it has to come from themselves. These are my thoughts on it.

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I'm going to spend some more time thinking about this, but here are some initial thoughts.

I think Phoenix/Thomas makes a good point - moving gamers from Group 2 to Group 1 isn't necessarily easy, and it may be a journey that each person just has to make on their own. And when they're ready to quit, then gamequitters will make sense to them, but not before. This may be true.

And to take a step back, our priority should probably still be reaching people in Group 1, since I'm sure we haven't exhausted that market yet. So simply starting out be spreading the word, as it were, might make sense as a place to focus our efforts first.

Nonetheless, thinking about Group 2 is important, and there's no reason why we would couldn't be messaging them as well. I'm not sure what narrative would work best, and maybe there isn't a single best one. My intuition is that trying to emphasize how bad gaming is isn't going to work, since they like gaming and it's part of their identity. Rather we could focus on the positives to be gained from gaming less or quitting gaming, or have stories of how people's lives changed after they quit. I like your suggestions of "Why you should consider taking 90 days off gaming" and "If you're playing more than 21 hours of gaming/week, read this." Or maybe, to follow the click-baitey trend, "I quit gaming for 90 days and this is what happened", or "How my life changed after I quit video games". Basically anything along the lines of "The benefits of quitting gaming". We don't want to tell them they should quit, but to just get people to start thinking about the role gaming plays in their lives. Rather than just thinking in terms of recruiting individuals to the forum, I get the sense that Cam probably has a grander vision that he would ideally like to have play out. Part of that is going to be starting conversations that aren't currently being had. If you can get people to start reflecting and talking openly about their gaming habits and their lives, their goals, you can start getting people to take an honest look at how gaming affects them. If you plant that seed, the rest should happen naturally. If "quitting gaming = healthy" is an idea in people's heads, they will probably pay attention to it or at least think about it. I mean, obviously easier said than done. But it's a plan.

R/gaming has 9,012,662 subscribers. R/stopgaming has 4,696. Video games are relatively new historically, and video games as a mainstream cultural enterprise that plays a role in people's identities is even newer. I think as a culture we haven't fully had time to process what that means and what the pros and cons of the lifestyle are, which is why there isn't a broader conversation. I guess sites like gamequitters are the start of the conversation.

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The line that spoke to me the most was, "There are some people out there who are gaming, and they don't want to be."  When I came across this I knew that I was one of those people.  I suppose I always knew it deep down inside, but that was the thought that got me to really believe that I was going to figure it out.  That's what got me to reach out.  I think that point can convert some people from group 2 to group 1.

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Dear Cameron,


Im here replying to your question.

Question: would a "why you should stop gaming" section be the "title" you'd want? The reason I ask is because I know a lot of people "on the fence" may be defensive to a title like that (as in the title implies that it's going to tell them that they should quit).

 

I think you deliver a very good point. Although a lot of the people on the fence quite literally want to be persuaded to stop playing video games, like myself, I also think there are people who are on the fence leaning on the other side, and can't visibly see the effects video games have on the brain. Perhaps instead of "why you should quit playing video games" you could include a chapter titled "your brain on video games", as it isn't critical of gamers and simply lays out the effects of video games, pertaining to things that gamers are interested in and typically have problems with - including a lack of motivation, social anxiety, depression, boredom with 'normal' 'unstimulating' activities, like, say, being outside. Like I said, a lot of people such as me are on the fence. Many gamers have social anxiety, lack motivation, depression and other such problems and have an inner struggle. A struggle between the desire to not have the mentioned problems, and a desire to continue playing video games and drown out that rather unsettling 'reasonable' voice in their heads. It's your job with this book to let these people fully realise, with complicated science explained simply, that many of these issues are due at least partially to gaming, and perhaps other forms of technology as well. If you can convince people that these effects are due to gaming, and not simply unfortunate character quirks, while at the same time telling them how they can find happiness and content in other, 'real' activities I think you'll reinforce that voice in people's heads, telling them what they already probably subconsciously know. Im especially interested in the idea of you explaining the 'supernormal stimulus' that is video games. If you don't already know (you probably do) a supernormal stimulus is something that stimulates us beyond what is 'natural' or rather what we've been exposed to for over millions of years. E.G sugary chocolate bars such as snickers are a super stimulus, as they are much sweeter than fruits or honey. If you're interested in the science, definitely check out Doug Lisle's ted talk and book 'The Pleasure Trap' where he explains the idea of a super stimulus, but in relation to food. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jX2btaDOBK8

There is also some research looking at the super stimulus that is pornography (looking at hundreds of videos of women / men is much more stimulating visually than we are used to) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7oFVOJf0TzY The problem with super stimuli is that the body simply isn't built to cope with that much stimulation, so it causes a 'numbed pleasure response' (fruit doesn't taste as good, real women aren't as attractive which leads to people getting fat and having erectile dysfunction) who knows how serious the effects of video games are, since they are so much more stimulating than say a sweet treat, as it completely encompasses our attention and hits our brain over the head with amazing graphics, immersion, sounds, action, lights, music - so much more than the body is built to cope with. Is it any surprise that children in Africa or other impoverished countries have the time of their life simply being alive, kicking a ball, running around, yet the children of the first world are constantly bored, no matter which gadget, video game or doo-hickey they come across? (After all, how could kicking a ball compare to the super stimulus that is call of duty?) Could it be the swarm of video games, apps, and possibly even television (I know you aren't focusing on that, but I think its relatable) that cause us to become so numb that even playing video games becomes dissatisfying, yet they are the only thing that comes close to making us feel an ounce of enjoyment, decreasingly so over time? THIS is what I want to see in your book, the science is out there, obviously not very organized but It is out there, and it's your job to put it together if possible.

TLDR - You don't have to be critical of people, simply lay the science of video game addiction out there. Reinforce what so many people already believe about video games, that it is addicting, that it leads to decreased motivation, happiness and pleasure in the real world. Educate people, with science, on exactly what video games (and perhaps technology in general, if you feel so daring) are doing to their brain, how they can feel fulfilment and happiness without video games, and adjust to 'real' activities such as real world communication and play, which are perhaps 'less stimulating' but arguably do so much more for our feeling of contentment. After all, we evolved with these real world activities for millions upon millions of years. Real world socialisation and play is what makes us happy, and I think most people already know that, but the real world has its trials, and no do-over button, and you can stuff up big time, but its still so much more worth it, so much more important to us as humans. Anyway, thats the end of my little ramble, I hope I helped you, and I look forward to your book! (This was completely unedited and only written once so forgive me for any mistakes) Contact doug lisle and gary wilson, the author of your brain on porn, for more information if you can't find it yourself. Perhaps they can help, even if their specialty isn't video games.

Ramble edit number 2 - Although this sounds a bit cheesy, perhaps in one part of the book you could introduce a section challenging the reader to compare the experience of playing video games to the experience of doing something in the real world. (perhaps a number of stepping stone challenges, such as going to the beach, bunjee jumping even?) Although many people like gaming in the moment, many of us feel, after a long gaming session where our dopamine and pleasure receptors are absolutely obliterated and desensitised (usually after an all nighter playing the witcher 3) I think I can speak for many people when I say that often people feel afterwards that it was a waste of time. Nobody looks back on their life and thinks "I wish I had more time playing video games" and other than childhood, video games in general feel like a blur to many people, unlike the experiences we have in the real world, like being of assistance to others, helping people, enjoying a view, hiking (thats a good challenge idea, hiking. Get in touch with nature yo) Not to mention being with family, but perhaps  video games desensitise us to these activities as well. Anyway I hope that helped.

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Im here replying to your question.

Hey Eden! Thanks for the reply. Sorry for my delayed response, I wanted to ensure I had the time to read your response with my full attention.

YES. I currently have a section I'm working on called "Gaming and your brain"... so I think that could be a great bridge for those on the fence (leaning to gaming). I've actually been thinking more and more about how I introduce Game Quitters to everyone, and I think I may begin to start from the detox side of it (try 90 days) and then introduce the rest of the Game Quitters mission from there. I'm working on this sequence right now.

Much of what you've shared is exactly what I'm working on right now, within the book. I have 120 of the latest scientific papers on internet addiction, gaming addiction, compulsive gaming, and just as a quick note, much of what you've shared is correct - especially as it relates to gaming and depression/social anxiety. They are linked.

Thankfully I have a few mentors in my life who are able to help me put all of the science together, so I'm grateful for that. I'm also grateful for your help and would love to keep you up to date on how everything is going - you have an ability to articulate our vision very well. :)

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Im here replying to your question.

Hey Eden! Thanks for the reply. Sorry for my delayed response, I wanted to ensure I had the time to read your response with my full attention.

YES. I currently have a section I'm working on called "Gaming and your brain"... so I think that could be a great bridge for those on the fence (leaning to gaming). I've actually been thinking more and more about how I introduce Game Quitters to everyone, and I think I may begin to start from the detox side of it (try 90 days) and then introduce the rest of the Game Quitters mission from there. I'm working on this sequence right now.

Much of what you've shared is exactly what I'm working on right now, within the book. I have 120 of the latest scientific papers on internet addiction, gaming addiction, compulsive gaming, and just as a quick note, much of what you've shared is correct - especially as it relates to gaming and depression/social anxiety. They are linked.

Thankfully I have a few mentors in my life who are able to help me put all of the science together, so I'm grateful for that. I'm also grateful for your help and would love to keep you up to date on how everything is going - you have an ability to articulate our vision very well. :)

Hey Cam, this sounds great. I think this sounds like the right approach. Can't wait for the book!

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Also, people don't seem to like the word 'addiction', and it sparks a lot of controversy and confusion ("Can you even be addicted to games? What is addiction really, anyway?" etc). Ultimately it's a red herring, and people don't like to be told that they're addicts or that they have a problem. When something is a core part of your identity, even if it's negatively impacting you, you're going to resist any suggestion that you should be giving that up, because it's perceived as a personal attack. And ultimately of course it's not our place to say that someone should stop gaming; we just want to raise awareness surrounding the issue in a polite and respectful way and let people make their own decisions.

I would say that I was definitely part of group 1.5 when I found Cam's youtube video's. I was addicted enough to acknowledge it was a problem(I had to google it so obviously I was kind of aware), but I still didn't want to accept it as a problem because my identity and most of my life was being a gamer. I'm still not even group 1 entirely, as you can tell from my introduction post I'm only quitting Online Games and not RPG's.

Honestly, I think the addiction word made me take this whole thing seriously. Without the term gaming addiction and the way the website articulates the Signs of Addiction was very eye opening for me and humbling. It brought me back down to earth because of the shock factor of the whole thing. It made me connect the signs mentioned to my life. We should never stop being honest because we might hurt someones feelings. This is a personal choice and accepting the addiction is probably the biggest first step. The hardest step. But it wasn't until I watched the "Why You Should Quit Gaming" video Cam made 4 months ago that I was like, "f**k it, you have to do this Laney." Including a section for this too might be a good idea.

Edited by Laney

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Honestly, I think the addiction word made me take this whole thing seriously. Without the term gaming addiction and the way the website articulates the Signs of Addiction was very eye opening for me and humbling. It brought me back down to earth because of the shock factor of the whole thing. It made me connect the signs mentioned to my life. We should never stop being honest because we might hurt someones feelings. This is a personal choice and accepting the addiction is probably the biggest first step. The hardest step. But it wasn't until I watched the "Why You Should Quit Gaming" video Cam made 4 months ago that I was like, "f**k it, you have to do this Laney." Including a section for this too might be a good idea.

I never thought about it that way, but that makes a lot of sense actually. Thanks for sharing. 

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You do have a point though, the whole concept of a support group isn't to scold or criticize someone. It's about being there for someone if they choose to travel this path. I'm surprised at how empathetic and kind this community is. You guys really made it easy to set aside my pride and try this out.

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