Robin Williams & His Obsession with Video Games

Written by Dr. Andrew Doan & Brooke Strickland on .

This last week, the world lost a very talented and beloved comedian, Robin Williams. He was an icon in Hollywood – a legend to look up to, especially for comedic actors that are just starting out. It was saddening and disturbing to hear that Williams felt there was no other option except suicide. Darkness and deep sadness truly overwhelmed him. 

Williams’ suicide brings up the topic of mental health, his struggle with years of drug and alcohol addiction, the deep depression he was facing recently, as well as his recent diagnosis with Parkinson’s disease.  All of these issues combined ended up being a recipe for disaster. Addictions and mental health issues are co-occurring, and severe depression is nothing to take lightly. It robs the brain, distorting people’s outlook on life, altering their view on their closest relationships, and changing their self-esteem.  When people get into a deep rut of depression, they may feel like there is no way out.

We are all familiar with Williams’ issues that he was struggling with, simply because of the incredible amount of media coverage of his death. But what hasn't been talked about a lot is his struggle with gaming addiction. Many knew that two of his children were named after video game characters, but The Daily Telegraph recently released an interview with Robin where he talks about his gaming obsession. He compares video games to “cyber cocaine” and talks about how he would game into the wee hours of the night and even when he was filming movies, he would play in between takes.  He described how he felt when he would be interrupted from the game – anxious and angry.  He said that at that point, he realized there was a problem and that the gaming time needed to be limited. Williams goes on to explain that he understands the struggle that parents face today in regards to limiting exposure to games and stresses the importance of having game-free time.  (1)

Gaming can be described as digital cocaine, just as Williams said. Just as with other drugs, gaming can be used to self-medicate and cover other deeper issues.  When you’re depressed, struggling socially, or have other issues going on at home, people look for ways to cope. And sadly, gaming addiction is one of the ways people are trying to manage the pain and sadness they’re living with. 

We hope and pray that in those final moments that God came to reveal himself to Robin Williams, and while we will miss seeing his talent, we know that the family members he left behind are the ones that are really in need of love and support. They, just like other families around the world that love someone struggling with mental health issues or addiction, know all too well about the darkness that it brings to a family. If you or someone you know is suffering from gaming addiction, or any other form of addiction, seek help immediately. 


1) The Daily Telegraph. Accessed August 16, 2014.