In this guide you will learn exactly how to beat your World of Warcraft addiction, including practical strategies and personal stories.
“If you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.” ~Friedrich Nietzsche
World of Warcraft was the best and worst time of my life.
It was the most fun I’ve ever had but I also became addicted to World of Warcraft and my life slowly crumbled around me.
With WoW Classic coming out I felt inspired to share my story in the hope that it brings peace to anyone out there who is struggling.
Watch: How I beat my World of Warcraft addiction:
My World of Warcraft Addiction
I started playing WoW when I was 18 years old. I had been a gamer for a long time but mostly played StarCraft and CounterStrike. At first I didn’t really like the game, but soon I fell in love.
At the time my life was a mess. I had dropped out of high school and after living with my girlfriend for a few months we broke up and I moved back in with my parents. I quit my job and suddenly had nothing but free time to play video games.
WoW was like a gift from the heavens.
I no longer worried about being depressed. I made new friends, developed new skills, and created a new sense of identity for myself. In WoW I was someone. I was respected, well-liked, and constantly felt a sense of progress and achievement.
Every day I woke up knowing what I needed to do in the game, and that all acted as a stark contrast to the real world where I had been bullied, rejected, and overall felt like I didn’t belong.
In WoW I found a new home.
When I think back to my time playing World of Warcraft there are so many fond memories. Almost every day I would wake up and play for the morning with my friend Kenna. She was a stay at home mom with a husband deployed overseas.
We played most of the time with our friends Daniel and Imman after they finished school or work for the day. We spent hours every day talking on vent, laughing and helping each other through life’s challenges.
WoW meant a lot to me and still does.
I remember Leroy Jenkins, and spending hours ganking guilds trying to raid Gruul. I remember the hours and hours and hours of grinding to get my flying mount. A friend had seen me grinding for a few days straight and spontaneously gave me the money for it. It was one of the happiest moments of my life and an act of kindness I’ll never forget.
I reached level 60 maybe a month before Burning Crusade was released and I’ll never forget the first day running off to explore a brand new world. It was like stepping off an airplane and you’re the only person on Mars.
I remember raiding Karazhan and defeating Prince Malchezaar. It was a time when a lot of the leadership techniques I learned playing hockey came in helpful.
Eventually I was recruited to a top ten guild in the world who was looking for a new Hunter. I was really excited about the opportunity.
That same weekend I took a bus for 15 hours to try and save my relationship but it didn’t work out. My dad drove through the night to pick me up and bring me safely back home.
This began the process of trying to turn my real life around and I decided to overcome my World of Warcraft addiction. It was hard on my friends and difficult to give up such a big opportunity with this new guild, but I knew if I didn’t quit my life would only continue to spiral out of control.
Is World of Warcraft Bad?
There’s nothing inherently wrong with playing video games. That said, World of Warcraft does have a number of game design features that will cause you to be more at-risk of developing a problem.
Research shows massive online multiplayer games like World of Warcraft are more addictive than offline single-player games.
One of the reasons why this happens is because the amount of time it takes to level up increases significantly over time, causing you to have to spend more and more hours to achieve the same experience of “leveling up”.
Ultimately it’s not about whether World of Warcraft is bad or not, it’s about what your relationship is like to gaming and whether or not you can play in moderation. Personally, I am unable to play a game like WoW in moderation so I need to avoid it.
WoW Addiction Test
How do you know if you are addicted to World of Warcraft or not? How do you know the difference between a gaming hobby and a gaming problem?
The American Psychiatric Association recommends a set of nine questions to screen for a video game addiction. You can find them in our test below:
The red flags you want to watch out for are:
Being irritable or moody when you can’t play
Constantly needing to play more and more (“it’s never enough”)
Losing interest in other activities (e.g. sports, exercise)
Being deceptive (e.g. stealing money to buy things in game)
Jeopardizing school, work, and/or relationships (in order to game)
If you are reading this and realizing your gaming may be a problem, then you want to follow the advice below. Don’t wait until your situation gets worse!
How to Beat World of Warcraft Addiction
If you are like me and you struggle with a World of Warcraft addiction and you want to turn your life around, follow these steps:
Step 1: Commit to 90 Days
If you want to quit gaming the first thing you want to do is give yourself a break, and I recommend 90 days. You don’t have to decide to quit forever but you do need to experience what life is like without World of Warcraft.
You need to create a contrast in your life and also develop new habits.
At the end of the 90 days you can make a choice about whether you want to try gaming in moderation or if you want to continue to quit for good. I’ll leave that choice up to you but making that choice after having a 90 day break will give you a much better idea about what you should do.
Step 2: Find Replacement Activities
Next, you need to find new activities to replace gaming. World of Warcraft is a game that never ends. You can play for hours and hours and hours and still not even come close to completing every mission. That’s one of the reasons why it can be so addictive.
The key here is to avoid sitting around bored staring at the ceiling because this is when you will justify gaming. Being intentional with choosing new activities to do instead of gaming will make a big difference.
Find new goals and skills to develop, new ways to relax after school or work is done for the day, and new ways to make friends and socialize.
Step 3: Schedule Your Day
World of Warcraft was your go-to activity whenever you had any free time, so now that you are going to quit you need to not only have new things to do, but you need to be more intentional with how you spend your time.
Use a daily calendar or an agenda to schedule your day – including your free time – so you always know what you are doing instead. Avoiding boredom is the key to your success.
I like to use the Pomodoro technique where I schedule one activity for 30-60 minutes and then take a 5-10 minute non-digital break, before going into my next activity.
Step 4: Navigate Cravings & Nostalgia
After you quit gaming you will experience urges and cravings to play. This is completely normal but it can also be frustrating. Try not to stress about them too much. They will come and go like the waves of the ocean.
If you are experiencing a craving, try and change your environment – ideally getting away from your temptations. Go for a walk outside, go to the gym, or call a friend. You don’t have to resist your cravings, you just need to identify that they are there, and let them pass on their own time.
Sometimes your cravings are just a form of nostalgia, and that’s definitely been the case for me with the release of WoW Classic.
It’s a desire to reminisce on my childhood, where I had no responsibilities and could spend months playing games without concern. But I’m in a different period of my life now and there’s no need to go back to play a game that I know causes problems in my life.
Ultimately that’s a choice you need to make for yourself. Identify what aspects of your life serve your highest potential and which ones don’t. No need to resist, simply let them go gracefully.
Step 5: Join a Support Group
World of Warcraft is a very social game and you may miss your friends and community when you quit. So join a support group and connect with other people on the same journey as you. Some options for that include:
You can also just talk to friends and family or a trusted friend to have them join you as an accountability partner.
Remember, you are not alone and there are thousands of other people just like you on this journey. There is no shame in asking for help and we are all in this together.
Bonus Tip: Build a New Identity
Long-term you need to focus on building a new identity, especially if you have struggled in the real world with bullying or low self-esteem.
World of Warcraft and games like it give you an opportunity to create a new sense of identity and the more time you spend in that virtual world the less time you spend in the real world.
The frame of mind I like to think about here is that life is the ultimate video game and you are the character you get to build. So what skills do you want to develop? How do you want to feel about yourself? What goals do you want to achieve?
Personally that’s been about traveling the world, having my own business, making a positive impact, connecting with more friends and family, and just being the best person I can be.
It’s taken a long time, over ten years, to get to where I am today, but I tried to enjoy the journey as much as possible as well.
You will go through a lot of ups and downs throughout your journey so take it one day at a time. Remember why you are doing what you are doing. Remember why it’s important for you to quit playing games. Keep going and never give up.
The thing I want to end on is if you’re reading this and you struggle with a World of Warcraft addiction, reach out for help. There’s no shame in it and you are not alone.
I hope my guide on World of Warcraft addiction has helped you and inspires you to keep pushing forward.
Your life is worth fighting for.