How to Recognize and Deal with MMORPG Addiction

Traditionally, video games have followed a defined, linear plot. There’s a beginning, task or missions to achieve, and a conclusion or restart to the beginning. However, with massive multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPG), the line becomes a dizzying array of endless and intersecting points, circles, and other disjoint paths.

In fact, part of the MMORPG addictive quality is their indefinable nature.

Most gamers who play will spend 22 hours a week on benders, burns, and raids in these worlds. One of the most well known is World of Warcraft. At its height, over 12 million players were playing and feeding their World of Warcraft addiction.

group of addicted players

However, in terms of total players, RuneScape is supreme. A Guinness Book of World Records topping 200 million accounts are registered to the RuneScape. Even 20 years after its launch, it still resonates with gamers.

While video game addiction is largely associated with flashier titles like Fortnite and Call of Duty, MMORPG is the most potent in their habit-forming ability, according to a study by the National Institute of Health. Even more interesting is that, unlike other genres, MMORPG cuts the same across gender identification lines. Another study found that it is nearly an equal distribution among the sexes.

All different types of people are playing and enjoying MMORPG, leading to an equal chance to continue playing.

What is it about MMORPG that resonates with gamers?  There are several different factors that can have a varying degree of importance, depending on the person.

Why are MMORPG addictive?

All My Friends are Online

Some people who are naturally introverted or lack social skills embrace the communal anonymity of online gaming. They can engage with other people, make friends, and gain group status without having to be themselves. With the size of groups in MMORPG, there is a very high likelihood that one of their virtual friends will always be online no matter when they play. 

Everything You Want, Everything You Need

The digital avatar is a stand-in for the person they want to be. Most humans, as Ernest Becker writes in The Denial of Death, project their insecurities onto other things.

In order to overcome his sense of inner emptiness and impotence, [man] chooses an object onto whom he projects all his own human qualities: his love, intelligence, courage, etc. By submitting to this object, he feels in touch with his own qualities; he feels strong, wise, courageous, and secure.

“The Denial of Death” by Ernest Becker

The Allure of The Unknown

gaming addiction controller

As MMORPG games involve a massive amount of people, their space has to accommodate everyone. This leads to a much larger play area. For Example, the map of World of Warcraft is over five times larger than traditional hit games like Grand Theft Auto V.

Gotta Get Them All

Maybe it goes back to humankind’s roots as hunter-gatherers, but we enjoy accumulating things. MMORPG tap into this need to have everything by hiding Easter eggs and other items throughout their gameplay leading to countless hours to uncover and complete the collections.

As you can see, a lot of different reasons account for why and how MMORPG hook their players. If this resonates with you or you relate this to a loved one or person you know, it might be worth looking into whether they have an addiction.

Signs You Have an Unhealthy Relationship with MMORPG

mmorpg addiction

The Game is a Fixation of Your Daily Life

Do you spend all of your free time playing the game? Do you orient your life around the game? When you’re not playing the game, do you think pre-eminently about playing the game?

Playing is Bad, But Not Playing is Worse

When you go a period without playing the game, do you have increased anxiety? Do you get shaky or sweaty when you’re unable to play the game?  Do you suffer from insomnia from not playing the game?

You Quit Only to Relapse

You have tried to swear off the game before, but it doesn’t work. You promise to decrease your playing, but you don’t. You tried switching to another activity, only to come back to the game.

Nothing Else Matters

Do you have a decreased interest in other activities?  Do you cancel plans to continue gaming? Have you quit or left other social clubs to continue playing?

Lying About Playing

Have you lied or attempted to minimize the frequency or duration you are playing?  Have you been deceptive when questioned about your gaming?


boyfriend playing video games

Do you play video games to avoid problems? Does your procrastination turn into disregard?

Even Losing isn’t Enough

Have you lost a relationship over your playing?  Have you lost employment or failed a class because of playing?

If some of these symptoms sound familiar, you may have developed an unhealthy relationship with MMORPG. While this may seem scary, it isn’t a hopeless situation. There are steps you can take to help you address your addiction. But, first and foremost…

Remember, You Are Not Alone

Every day, more people are reporting their MMORPG addiction. This self-reporting has created more awareness of the effect of these games and better strategies for how to treat MMORPG addiction.

Proven strategies to leave the guild of MMORPG

gaming is over

Block the Website and Access to it

Either you or a friend needs to go into your settings and keep you from accessing the website. Then, you can contact the distributor and cancel your account and block your credit card or bank account from re-signing up.

Reduce Your Playing Time

If you’re not ready for the drastic step of quitting all at once, slowly begin reducing the amount of time you play. Start recording the time you are playing and try playing less, maybe an hour here or there, and replacing that time with hobbies, social clubs, physical activity, volunteering, or even a side-hustle.

As humans, we trick ourselves into believing that the pursuit or the end is the most important thing. When, in reality, it’s balanced as detailed by Yuval Noah Harari in his book, Homo Deus:

“Perhaps the key to happiness is neither the race nor the gold medal, but rather combining the right doses of excitement and tranquillity.”

“Homo Deus” by Yuval Noah Harari

Join a Forum

As the opportunity of socialization is the draw for getting hooked on these games, it can also be the rope that pulls you out of their grip. There are a vast number of users who have also similarly beaten their addictions and they have started online support groups. Your new guild is the perfect guide to getting you off MMORPG.

Being addicted to an MMORPG can feel a lot like playing the game, a seemingly endless pursuit full of shortfalls and dangers. While taking on such a trial can be imposing, there is hope. Countless people have beat their World of Warcraft addiction or RuneScape addiction and soon, you will, too.

If you don’t know where to start, we have written a quick guide on how to stop playing video games that you can check for more guidance.