March 2, 2017 9:27 pm
Updated: March 2, 2017 9:32 pm

Calgary-based support program for gaming addicts helps thousands

WATCH ABOVE: Video game addiction seems harmless at an early age, but can quickly take over your life. As Bindu Suri explains, a local support program has attracted thousands from around the world.

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The practice of skipping class to play video games isn’t all that surprising for a teenager, except Kyle Teed was skipping university classes into his mid-20s.

I thought, “I’ll go back tomorrow,” Teed said. “But tomorrow turned into two semesters, which is crazy.  I was hiding this from my significant other, I was hiding this from my family.”

Teed now admits he was suffering from a video game addiction.

He eventually decided to seek professional help from counsellors, but relapsed.

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Teed was finally given hope after stumbling onto gamequitters.com, an online community he could relate to.

“The community offered this idea that I’m not alone in this,” Teed said. “As much as it’s not talked about, there are a lot of people going through this.”

Gamequitters has become the largest free online support program for gaming addiction, according to its creator, Calgarian Cam Adair.

“I was a fairly normal Canadian kid, but in the 8th grade I experienced a lot of bullying,” Adair said. “That’s when I turned to gaming.  It got to a point where I wrote a suicide note. I no longer felt safe with myself.”

The online forum has 20,000 members so far, ranging in age from 10 to 67.

“The assumption is the demographic would be kids, but many of them are college students,” Adair said.  “They have more difficult class work, more responsibility and a heightened level of stress.”

A Calgary gaming centre claims it has found another way to promote video games as a healthy hobby.

Dan Gibbins, manager of local gaming centre The Node, says his venue’s goal is to make gaming a social experience.

“Here you’re meeting other people and playing with other people,” Gibbins said. “People meet here in the store and become friends.”

While Kyle Teed isn’t out of the woods yet, Gamequitters has provided him with the inspiration to do better.

“I’ve embraced other things, like the gym and spending time with friends,” Teed said.

“It’s all part of the daily struggle to disconnect with the digital word, and live in the real world.”

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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