A Guide on How To Overcome Brawl Stars Addiction
Brawl Stars burst onto the scene in 2018 and made an estimated $200 million in the first four months of its release. Since then the game has remained strong and managed to maintain roughly 87 million players across iOS and Android until 2020. The game’s success isn’t always something to praise as many people have been complaining about their addiction, including concerned parents about their children. Hence, we are here to provide some of the most effective solutions to overcoming your Brawl Stars addiction.
What is Brawl Stars?
For those who are avid players and battling with addiction most of this will be common knowledge. However, it’s important to let parents and carers know what their addicted loved ones are into. Brawl Stars is a Multiplayer Online Battle Arena, better known as a MOBA, created by Supercell. The same company that made the massively addictive hit mobile game Clash of Clans. Players have 22 different characters to play as in this third-person shooter and a whole number of game modes to choose from. Consider it as a more playful cartoon version of Overwatch. Games last an average of 2-3 minutes meaning it’s the perfect pass time for a lunch break or waiting for a train.
The aim of most of the game modes are to eliminate your enemies as frequently as possible in order to destroy or claim the objective on the opposite side of the map. Games are typically played in a 3v3 format however there are game modes that allow for solo and duo action. The game only contains a minor level of cartoon violence in the form of firing impractically large weapons with whacky ammunition at each other. So from a parent’s perspective, it’s not the worst game they could be playing. However, it’s the addictiveness of the game that is a cause for concern
Why is Brawl Stars So Addictive?
When it comes to developing video game addiction it does not discriminate. Of course, there are certain risk factors and predispositions that can make people more likely to develop an addiction. But still, even people who do not consider themselves gamers tend to be hooked on this game for reasons they struggle to explain. So, here are some of the most addictive features of Brawl Stars that keep the players wanting more.
Staying true to the usual Supercell addictive mobile game design, there is of course a Gem system where players are able to buy their way through hours of grinding, for a small fee of course. Users are given the opportunity to buy gems from the store for real money that can be used to accelerate all kinds of progress within the game. Namely increasing the amount of tokens you earn per game which are used to unlock loot boxes, new brawlers and more gems.
As the game is free to play it is almost entirely monetised through microtransactions hence they are thrown in your face at outrageous deals at the beginning of the game. Only $1.99 to buy some Gems in order to upgrade your character seems like a bargain. But, once that initial investment is made that is when they hook us in and the cognitive bias begins to set in.
Some players begin to spiral being enticed by gem offers to unlock characters that would have taken hours of playing to unlock only to be hit by the next milestone that is just another small paywall away. Even when players want to give the game up sometimes their investments keep them playing and this is known as the Sunken Cost Fallacy.
This is a cognitive bias that used to serve us a great purpose a long time ago as a hunter-gatherer society but a lot less so now. The bias makes us prioritise things we have invested resources into, be it time, energy or money. Back in those days if we were to lose a pile of food we spent so long collecting it could be a matter of life or death and so we protected it. Similarly, our investment of time, money and energy into Brawl Stars would be a waste if we simply gave up. Hence, we continue to play.
One thing to remember is that this is a cognitive bias and it is very often inaccurate and not true. By playing the game we do not increase the value of it. In order to create gains in other aspects of life, we have to be willing to accept that our investments into the game are not coming back no matter how much more we play.
Measurable Growth & Rewards
Following off the back of in-game transactions the game does a great job of constantly rewarding the players and giving them consistent objectives to work towards. Obviously, the game contains the most popular method of unlocking content and that is the Battle Pass System. The tried and tested method is used in almost all multiplayer games such as Fortnite, Call of Duty and PUBG. This simply means that playing the game earns them some form of experience that they can use to unlock the various tiers of the battle pass.
Behind each tier, there are rewards like characters, loot boxes and gems which are displayed like a carrot on a stick. Moving past the tiers can often increase the amount of experience required to progress to the next reward, thus meaning more time spent grinding. One of the main reasons why this system is so addictive is because of our innate desire to achieve things. Most addictive video games walk the fine line between offering a challenge and making us feel accomplished. Hence, people with video game addiction see the game as their sole source of validation and gratification. The problem with this is it shortcuts our ability to accomplish difficult tasks in life.
Most things in life worth having take months or even years of consistent hard work which many video game addicts struggle to find the motivation to work towards. Their desire to achieve things is shunted by the quick success at a moment’s notice they can receive by loading up the game.
Sadly video game addiction has a relationship with depression and one of the contributing factors is the feeling of hopelessness some addicts get. When they spend numerous hours gaming rather than working on something they can reap real-life rewards from, they begin to experience negative thoughts that make them feel unaccomplished. The only time they feel rewarded is when they play video games and there the cycle of addiction begins.
One of the best ways to break these modes of thinking is through CBT which we will talk more about later.
Social Interaction & Entertainment
Playing Brawl Stars is rarely done alone. Based on the sheer accessibility of it, considering most people these days have a phone and internet access players are hopping on at every opportunity they can get. For some, gaming online with friends satisfies their need for social interaction. Working together, talking, laughing and winning all sounds like great fun and there’s no denying that it is. However, it’s when these online interactions begin to take priority over real-life ones, that’s when the trouble can start.
One of the symptoms of video game addiction is social isolation and gradually this begins to occur when gaming satisfies their social side. Soon individuals begin to neglect their real-life friends and family, missing important dates, cancelling plans and just not being present. In cases where the players are very young, this can have long term effects as face to face interactions are essential for developing the communication skills required in life.
The way we recommend people get out there and start socialising again is to find alternative activities to gaming. Joining sports teams, dance classes or anything else you enjoy can be a great way to meet like-minded people. Furthermore, to become more present in your interactions and family and friends we suggest practising mindfulness. But, more on this later.
Signs & Symptoms of Brawl Stars Addiction
When trying to identify video game addiction it’s important to be aware of the main signs and symptoms. Some symptoms are more obvious than others and they can vary in combination and severity from person to person, so be vigilant.
Playing For Long Hours – Typically we do not like to define video game addiction based on the number of hours that gamers play as it is not representative sometimes. Video game addiction is diagnosed by the disruption of various areas of functioning across the person’s life however there are numbers that are clearly unhealthy and disruptive. Generally, more than 6 hours a day can be seen as excessive and get in the way of other responsibilities for the day.
Poor Sleep Quality – Phones before bed are usually a no-no when it comes to a good night’s sleep but it has been shown that video games have a detrimental effect on sleep quality. For one, the adrenaline, stimulation and focus required to play Brawl Stars can make it difficult to relax the mind and body before bed. Furthermore, exposure to blue light emitted from digital device screens has been clinically proven to delay the production of essential hormones for sleep.
Fall in Performance At School/Work – This is typically noticed due to a combination of things happening to someone suffering from video game addiction. When you are addicted to video games they are your number one priority. Hence individuals start to neglect important tasks that should be completed for work. Also due to poor sleep quality, it can make it difficult to concentrate and operate in a professional or learning environment.
Here are some more symptoms that we should be aware of:
- Decreased motivation, energy and mood
- Strong Impulses to play video games
- Neglecting relationships and loved ones
- Headaches and eye strain
- Ignoring important responsibilities for gaming
- Obsessive thinking about video games
- Decline in mental health
Our users should always be aware that some of these symptoms are shared with other comorbid mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression and OCD. These comorbid mental health conditions can also increase the risk of developing video game addiction, therefore we encourage consulting a local healthcare professional if these symptoms are very severe.
How to Overcome Your Addiction
Overcoming video game addiction isn’t like flipping a switch and saying “I don’t play video games anymore!” Although we do recommend taking a break you will likely feel withdrawal symptoms and urges to play and this is what leads to relapse. Hence we will provide you with some of the most effective and clinically proven methods to overcome your video game addiction.
Detox from Brawl Stars
Detoxification from video games means no Brawl Stars or any other video game related content for 90 days. We need this time away as excessive use of video games has altered the chemicals in our brain. There is no need to be worried as our brains can make a full recovery if we give it the proper time away from games it needs. Secondly, we use this detox period to get in touch with what life without video games is like. In the midst of gaming addiction, many people might have forgotten the pleasures in life that they used to enjoy before video games and this offers the opportunity to discover or rediscover these.
We understand that downright taking a break for 90 days can be a huge feat to those who rely so heavily on gaming so alternatively, you can try to play in moderation. We still advise you to work your way up to taking a detox but if you can manage to utilise some of the techniques to change your relationship with video games from the get-go then by all means use what’s most effective.
One of the methods of playing moderation is to organise your day into a schedule. By mapping out what you plan for the day and giving an allotted time slot for gaming it can help to make us more productive. Also making a schedule helps to eliminate boredom and procrastination that ultimately leads to gaming again. In this instance, we recommend that you don’t make the schedule on your phone just to remove some of the additional temptations to play Brawl Stars.
CBT for Gaming Addiction
Like we mentioned earlier, we can attribute a lot of our addiction to negative thoughts perpetuating the cycle of our behaviour. However, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy or CBT is by and large the most effective video game addiction treatment.
CBT focuses on changing our negative thoughts into healthier thinking patterns. It is based on the principle that our thoughts, behaviour and outlook on the world are all interlinked. By altering the way we think can have a knock-on effect on the way we behave and perceive things. CBT is delivered during in-person therapy and can also be practised through audio lessons.
Many of the meditations, exercises and thought experiments are set to complete in your own time so that you can become self-sufficient in treating your addiction. Thus CBT is used in many self help programs used to treat video game addiction. Here is one exercise we recommend to help reduce the effects of negative thoughts and addictive symptoms.
Gratitude Journal – Starting a gratitude journal really helps to improve how we feel about ourselves and the world around us. By writing things down that we are grateful for, we help to keep track of the good things in our life, giving them extra attention and appreciation.
Start by writing down 5 things you are grateful for in the morning to start your day. They could be anything no matter how big or how small. It could be “I am grateful for my bed because it’s a warm and safe place” or “I am grateful for my slippers because they are comfortable” It might be difficult to think of these things, to begin with, but the more we practice the more things you will find that you are grateful for. Notice how your general mood increases when showing appreciation for what you have.
Hopefully, this will improve your mood to start the day off right and eliminate these negative ways of thinking.
One of the aforementioned problems video game addicts suffer with is being present with their loved ones and making the correct decisions in the moment. Luckily mindfulness is the practice dedicated to shifting your focus into the present moment by focusing on our breath, sensations or environment around us. We learn to focus on these mediums as they are constant, present and objective, not clouded by any judgement.
One of the main goals of mindfulness is to try and focus on any of these sensations without making judgements. This is harder than it looks as inherently we are judgemental creatures, so whenever our minds start to wonder we work to bring our attention back to our breath, body or environment around us.
Mindfulness is a skill and is best practised through meditations. These can be guided audios like some we provide in our course. When you build up the confidence you can do them on your own to meditation or ambient sounds.
The benefit of mindfulness for video game addiction is that it helps us to be more present with people we meet and those we love. It also helps shift our attention away from negative and addictive thoughts and make the correct decisions consistent with our goals to quit or cut down. Most CBT programmes contain mindfulness teachings and meditations so their applications are far-reaching.
If you feel like your Brawl Stars habit has been getting a bit out of hand and you’re looking to quit or cut down, The Mindful Gamer is always here to help.