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Parents Webinar: Understanding Games, Gamers and Game Addiction

Parents Webinar: Understanding Games, Gamers and Game Addiction

In 2020, we had 2765 Singapore secondary school students complete COMEBACK’s Game Dependency Test. 19.4% of the students have game dependency, with 4% being significant. This means that one out of five teenagers in Singapore have some form of disruptions in their lives related to gaming. To read the full report, go to https://www.comeback.world/2020/10/08/game-dependency-in-singapore-secondary-school-students-2020/

Games are here to stay and will be part of our lives. Complete embargo of games for your child and youth will mean social and technology isolation. This is not possible when students are required to go online for some school classes or assignments. On the other hand Game Dependency is a very real challenge for many parents. Yet, game dependency is rarely on the clinical radar as a cause or contributor to educational or behavioural difficulties for which psychological services were being sought as compared to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), conduct disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, insomnia, and mood deregulation.

For this Parents Webinar, we seek to equip parents with frameworks to help parents better understand games, gamers and game addiction, which we termed game dependency. With better understanding of games and your child’s gaming motivations, parent-child communication and relationship can be improved. Developed from the understanding of a youth’s brain development, various communication strategies will be examined. We will also do a brief introduction to neurofeedback intervention that is noninvasive and non-medication-based, that can help programme the brain to achieve greater mastery over ineffective or dysfunctional behaviours, i.e. game dependency, poor relationships, etc.

Date and Time: 26 May 2021 (Wed) 10am – 1pm
Venue: Zoom Webinar
NOTE: A unique zoom link will be emailed to you to join the webinar. Please sign up using the email address you use for your Zoom account. Otherwise you might have problem logging into the Zoom webinar as the zoom links are linked to the email provided during registration. 
Cost: $15/registrant
Eventbrite Registration: https://uggg2021.eventbrite.sg

ABOUT THE SPEAKERS

Nicholas Gabriel Lim

Nicholas Gabriel Lim is the principle psychologist and a board director of COMEBACK. As a registered psychologist, he has worked with youths for 2 decades. He is the co-founder of the Youth Work Association (Singapore), the author of the ebook Clash of the Mind and Heart: Understanding Adolescents, a clinical supervisor to young budding psychologist, and a youth mentor!

He has spent his career in the people, private and public sectors. All of which have been with youths, families, and advocates of youths. Given his depth and breadth of work with youths, he has been on various government advisory councils, like the Media Literacy Council and the National Council for Problem Gambling.

Nicholas not only has Degrees in Psychology from the University of Queensland and the Nanyang Technological University, but also various clincial and practice certificates like for Youth Work Coaching and Supervision, Choice Theory and Reality Therapy, Adventure Therapy, and Therapeutic Behavior Management, just to name a few. He is currently pursuing his law degree.

In his free time, Nicholas enjoys reading a good book and heading to the gym. Together with his beautiful wife, he has three children. He lives by his favorite mantra, a life well reflected would be life well live!

Nicholas Lim’s Website: https://nigel.com.sg/

Ruth Lim

Ruth is on staff with SOOS OIO as an Esports Coach and co-developed TeleTrip, an offline gaming community event. She conducts DOTA 2 foundational classes and workshops for Esports Academy under SCOGA and also teaches the module “Team Management” in Informatics Diploma for Esports and Game Design.

Ruth Lim coached a competitive DOTA 2 team TenTwenty in 2017 that won CPL Championship DOTA 2 Edition 2017, came in 1st in Dew Challenge 2017 and represented Singapore in Asia Pacific Predator League in 2018. Ruth managed Team Impunity FIFA Online 3 who got 3rd in EA Champions Cup (EACC) Winter Cup 2016 representing Singapore. In 2017, she coached Team Impunity FIFA Online 3.

Ruth graduated from Temasek Polytechnic with Diploma in Games & Entertainment Technology and SIT-University of Glasgow in Bachelors of Science with Honours in Computing Science. She also holds a CoachSG coaching certificate.

Well recognized in the DOTA 2 community, Ruth attended numerous international gaming tournaments, got to know and learnt from many of the top players worldwide. Ruth hopes to share her knowledge and experience to gamers in Singapore and beyond.

Poh Xing Yong

Xing Yong is an Associate Psychologist with COMEBACK. He has struggled with game dependency since Primary school, and now aims to help others overcome their similar struggles in game dependency using his past experiences and background in Psychology. He has completed his Psychology Degree (Honours), and is currently pursuing further studies in Counselling Psychology to further hone his skillsets.

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The 4 Gamer Player Types

The 4 Gamer Player Types

Gamers are not all the same. We have different motivations and objectives when we play. Gamers can be categorised in 4 broad categories called Player Types. ⁠The 4 broad Player Types are Achievers, Gurus, Explorers and Socializers. We will explain each of the Player Types in a little more detail below.

Achiever Player Type

Achievers are gamers who are competitive and love rewards. They love treasure hunt. The more challenging the goal, the more satisfaction they feel. Their main goals in game are gathering points and levelling up. Thus, they are motivated by the accumulation of tokens or rewards in completing the challenges in the games.⁠

Achievers hate losing. They love to be the first. Be it getting a rare item, completing the game or in ranking. Difficult games are fun for achievers. This gives them bragging rights for their achievements.⁠

Due to Achievers’ competitiveness, they can be aggressive. They might display intense emotions of anger, frustration and boredom during games. So it is not uncommon for Achievers to curse and hate a game while playing, but later declare it as a “great game”. ⁠ Achievers will likely stop playing a game after they beat the game when the challenge wears off. ⁠

Trolls, hackers, cheaters, and attention farmers most probably are Achievers. Do note that not all Achievers are trolls, hackers, cheaters, and attention farmers though. 😇 ⁠

Guru Player Type

Gurus can be described by two words, mastery and systems, revolving around strategic or tactical play. Acquiring skills is the main goal. They want to master all the techniques in the game. ⁠
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For Gurus, winning is only meaningful if they have earned it through mastery of the game. They will continue playing the game even when the game is mastered. They enjoy the experience of being the master of the game. ⁠

Gurus typically enjoy open games, i.e. games with no specific end-point, especially strategy, construction and management games. They are good at multitasking, e.g. building an army out of diverse unit types. Thus, they like games that allow them to experiment with as many combinations as possible to achieve their goals. ⁠

Explorer Player Type

Explorers value enjoyment and experience in a game. They are always on a look out for unique and interesting experiences. They take pleasure in an engaging story and an intricately designed game world. ⁠

Explorers like to survey the game’s map. They enjoy seeking out information. They will look out for obscure actions in tuck away spots, interesting features and exposing the game’s internal setup. They are the players who know the short-cuts, tricks and glitches in their never-ending hunt to discover more.⁠

Wonder, awe and mystery are important to Explorers. They decide their game preference within minutes of playing or even by observation. Explorers enjoy contributing to the progression of a game. They also love to play many different mini-games.⁠

They will not play a game they do not enjoy and will stop playing the moment it ceases to be fun. They might get the help from Achiever or Guru players when they meet challenges in the game.⁠

Socializers Player Type

Socializers are more interested in other players than the game itself. That’s why they talk more than they play! They also enjoy role-playing. ⁠

Socializers like to be involved in the community aspects of the game, like managing communities or role-playing that builds relationships through storytelling. Socializers love to play with others. They are less likely to play solo games. Even observing other players can be interesting.⁠ Socializers generally do not like direct competition.⁠

The Use of the Player Types

We have introduced to you the 4 Gamer Player Types. In fact the 4 Gamer Player Types can be further divided into Hardcore and Casual Gamers. Each of the Player Types can also be matched to Myers–Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). Game Designers use the understanding of Player Types to design games that are attractive for gamers.

If you are a gamer, by knowing which Player Type you are and your motivations for gaming, you will not fall into the trap of being hooked in games by identifying how the “trap” looks like. For adults who are concerned about the young person’s gaming habits, you have insight to what in the game is attracting them. From this knowledge, you probably can give them better alternative suggestions to gaming based on what they enjoy.
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My PSLE and O Levels Regrets

My PSLE and O Levels Regrets

My PSLE and O Levels Regrets

I had two regrets growing up. The first was missing out on one question in my Mathematics paper during PSLE. This question cost me 8 marks. The second was missing the last page of my A Mathematics paper for O Levels, this time costing me 28 marks. The regrets were not only about my grades. It was painful not to be able to do my best. These two incidences were not coincidences. They were consequences of my behaviour that escalated because I did not consider it a problem until it was too late.

My School Days

I had problem fitting in during Primary School. I was ostracised by my classmates and video games became my escape. My parents only allowed me to play video games during the June or December holidays. During school term, I found other ways to play video games secretly. Without my parents knowledge, I played a lot of video games to the extent that I slept five hours or less a day. Due to prolonged lack of sleep, I could not focus during my PSLE. This resulted in my first regret. There were no big consequences and I moved on to secondary school.

To be accepted by schoolmates in secondary school, I joined a CCA to fit the image of a holistic student. Behind all these, I was still playing a lot video games. Gaming was on top of the busy school schedule. I never talked about my video gaming to my schoolmates as gaming was not a cool or acceptable activity. By then, I played about 200 game titles. I thought everything was fine and I was managing. My accumulated sleep deprivation seriously affected my ability to focus. The end result was my second regret.

Gaining Control Over Games

Even though the relationship with my parents were good, they could not understand why I was playing so much. Most of the conversations we had were about playing less games and studying more. I found it hard to share with them my problems, especially about being ostracised and having problems fitting in. At that point in time, I did not understand that games were my escape. All I knew was that I felt good playing games and I loved it. Games made me forget the problems and I was happy when I was gaming. When I was not gaming, I did not feel good. The negative feelings when I was not gaming increased over time. I needed to game more to make myself feel better and thus I ended up unable to control my gaming even when my exams were affected. I cried for my exams but I loved gaming too much to give it up.

My goal of going to a junior college was no longer possible after O Levels. Even at that point, I could not give up gaming. Instead, I went to Polytechnic to study game development, wanting to create the game of all games. In the game development course, I met many like-minded friends who love games. The lecturers were very understanding and genuinely care about us. As I learnt more about games, I understood myself as a gamer better. The community within the course also helped me build good gaming habits through friendships. When I understood how games are designed, the mysterious attraction of games began to fade away. I started to play less and eventually regained control.

In Retrospect

When I look back at these two regrets, if there is someone older who understands games and me as a gamer to walk alongside me, things might be a little different now. Perhaps I would have done better for my O levels. A gamer role model will be helpful for me as I felt isolated and alone.

I believe in COMEBACK because it does not end with just helping us gamers to overcome games. COMEBACK brings us to a community where we have a sense of belonging. I was able to gain control when I found my “tribe” at the game development course. I was able to connect to a community where I belong. On top of this, COMEBACK is about walking the journey together so that we discover each of our life purpose with a hope for the future.


About Ruth Lim

Ruth is on staff with SOOS OIO as an Esports Coach and co-developed TeleTrip, an offline gaming community event. She conducts DOTA 2 foundational classes and workshops for Esports Academy under SCOGA and also teaches the module “Team Management” in Informatics Diploma for Esports and Game Design. Ruth is also involved in the development of COMEBACK program.

Ruth Lim coached a competitive DOTA 2 team TenTwenty in 2017 that won CPL Championship DOTA 2 Edition 2017, came in 1st in Dew Challenge 2017 and represented Singapore in Asia Pacific Predator League in 2018. Ruth managed Team Impunity FIFA Online 3 who got 3rd in EA Champions Cup (EACC) Winter Cup 2016 representing Singapore. In 2017, she coached Team Impunity FIFA Online 3.

Ruth graduated from Temasek Polytechnic with Diploma in Games & Entertainment Technology and SIT-University of Glasgow in Bachelors of Science with Honours in Computing Science. She also holds a CoachSG coaching certificate.

Well recognized in the DOTA 2 community, Ruth attended numerous international gaming tournaments, got to know and learnt from many of the top players worldwide. Ruth hopes to share her knowledge and experience to gamers in Singapore and beyond.

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Game Addiction in Singapore


Game Addiction in Singapore as Reported by Media

Today Online published an article about a gamer with an addiction problem and “It took a US$48,000 (about S$67,000) overseas detox programme for 23-year-old Bernard Lim (not his real name) to kick his gaming addiction. This raises the question if there is many more “Bernard” with game addiction in Singapore. And do these “Bernard” have such financial means to seek help. 

The mobile penetration rate in Singapore as of May 2019 is 154.1%. With an average of 1.5 mobile phones to each Singaporean, mobile phones are a primary medium for social and entertainment. This is especially true for the young. This means that mobile gaming is within the reach of our pockets everywhere we go. In 2011, The National Institute of Education conducted a study concluding that Singaporeans are bigger gamers spending an average of 20 hours per week on gaming than the Americans who played an average of 13 hours per week. 

According to a Channel News Asia article, “The senior counsellor from Touch Youth Intervention, a division of Touch Community Services, cited internal findings that showed that gaming dependency in Singapore is at close to 11 per cent. A 2010 study on pathological video gaming among Singaporean youths stood at 8.7 per cent, it added. This means that for every 100 youths, about 8 of them is losing themselves to games. For every 12 friends of a youth, there can be 1 friend with game dependency. 

What is Game Dependency?

Games Dependency is a situation where you are dependent on your games to some degree, and it is causing some disruption to some areas of your life. The areas could include relationships, studies or work, health, etc. This is technically not addiction because of the lower frequency or intensity of it, nonetheless, it is influencing your life.” – Nicholas Gabriel Lim, Registered Psychologist

To find out if you still have mastery over your own life, click here to find out: https://www.comeback.world/comeback-game-dependency-test/

The Concern

Often times the youths are not able to identify game dependency among their friends. Many gamers do not realise that the friends they play with have problems. Even though they play together but they do not share much information about their lifestyle or even struggles. Peer pressure is real for a youth, for many adults too. Those who fit in will not show or talk about struggles for risk them losing their friends. Or some go to the extreme of using game dependency as bragging rights for approval. Those who do not fit in, nobody notices. Socially isolated gamers are not seen and often forgotten. And although many seek authenticity, keeping up to this ideal can be rather illusive in reality.

Play and Social

Social is an integral part of play. We learn most of our habits and behaviours through social. A key reason why we choose to do COMEBACK in a group setting is to have an environment where play comes alongside with deep social bonding. Through this, gamers can be authentically themselves beyond games.

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The Beginning of COMEBACK

Community is the focus of SOOS OIO. In SOOS OIO, we love running TeleTrips and engaging the gamers. I never thought we will have a program on game dependency. This was not part of my plan. In fact, the problem of game addiction was brought up to me many times at different occasions. I understand the escalating issue but I felt I could not do much to help. Putting together the Game Addiction talk and sharing my understanding through the ebook “Understanding Games and Gamers” were possibly the most we can do. At least that was what I thought. Yet, these little actions led to the beginning of COMEBACK.

Through a series of events in a short span of time, my heart was stirred to do more for gamers who are losing themselves in games. I texted Nick Lim, our advising Psychologist, hoping he will discourage me on this emotionally charged crazy idea. Instead, he responded with urgency, convicted that this need has to be addressed. We met for lunch within the next two days which is not usual as our meetings are booked in advance due to tight schedules. To my amazement, within the 1.5 hours lunch, we had the program framework. This was the birth of COMEBACK, which did not have a name then. After which was lots of hard work to make this a reality.

Who am I?

I felt inadequate. Firstly, I do not consider myself a gamer although I spent quite a bit of time at arcade games during school days. Secondly, I am not a counsellor, psychologist or any mental health professional. All I have was level 101 Psychology and Consumer Behaviour in Business School and a module of Counselling in Theological School. I ploughed through lots of research journals and articles to understand the issue at hand. Shot many questions to Nick Lim as well. I observed gamers as I tried to validate what I read in theory, searching for practical applications and solutions. It was an exercise of training for mastery.

COMEBACK Mastery

Mastery of not just the issue at hand, but myself and my life. I wanted to stop many times even though I had a lot of support around me. Interestingly, there were no naysayers. It was an inner battle with myself. It was a fight to sell myself that this is worth it, not just for myself but for the gamers whom I have grown to love.

I wonder how much of our lack of action is internal rather than external. I felt weak. There was no way I could have pulled myself up. People around me could only help to a limited extent. It was faith in God that undergirded my inner self to strength. This inner self just wanted to lie down and do nothing. Yet when I surrender each morning to this faith, I get up and work. Perhaps even in an ideal external situation, we can still be paralysed by fear if we have internal disbelief. A fight in life to gain inner strength is key. It is not just the fight to gain mastery over games, but it is a mastery over our timid selfs hidden within. It is my prayer that through COMEBACK, we will learn to gain strength to push through together.

COMEBACK Program

The disruptions in life that gamers experience due to games may not amount to game addiction as defined by the American Psychiatric Association and World Health Organization. By such definition, there are not many game addicts around in Singapore to warrant much attention. In reality, there are many who have lost control over their lives where a gamer is consumed with games and missed out on many important things in life. We can do something before any gamer reaches extreme severity.

We designed COMEBACK to help gamers gain mastery over games within a community of gamers. The gamers do not have to fight alone, but with other gamers under the guidance of those who had gained mastery. COMEBACK navigates the challenges of game dependency with the participants, helping them gain a deeper self-awareness within a community who understands. We do not stop at mastery over games. We incorporated Life Purpose Coaching into the program so that COMEBACKERs go beyond games to have victory with a purpose.

You can take the Game Dependency Test to see how your games health level is: https://www.comeback.world/comeback-game-dependency-test/.