How to Treat Runescape Addiction

Runescape is one of the world’s most popular MMORPGs with roughly 2 million players logging on every day. The community is one of the most loyal compared to other games as Runescape reaches far back into many of the player’s childhoods. A shocking video game statistic about Runescape is that it takes the average player 2300 – 2500 hours to max out an account. This equates to almost 104 days of in-game time! It’s clear to see that players willing to invest this amount of time into the game are prime suspects for developing video game addiction. So, let’s work through how to treat Runescape addiction.


Why Is Runescape So Addictive?

For players that have been immersed in the game for years, this has become an age-old question. Many people on forums like Reddit post about their experiences with the game and why they believe it had a hold over them. A lot of the theories you find on these threads aren’t far off, but we thought we’d summarise some of Runescape’s most addictive qualities all in one place.

Measurable Growth

When it comes to rewarding progress there is no better game than Runescape. The premise of most addictive games out there is to get you to invest time into levelling up and reinforcing this behaviour with rewards for doing so. However, Runescape’s goals are all time-based. You start with the low-level inefficient means of levelling up, completing quests, activities and bosses. To slowly grind into the late game where all of these processes become easier, more profitable and efficient.

Ultimately this progression mirrors a lot of the desires that we have as human beings. We all have an innate need for measurable growth to achieve and succeed in some way. Runescape provides an easily achievable “opportunity” for gamers to accomplish things. The only thing standing in their way of greatness is a few hours of tedious clicking which, to many players, is a small price to pay.

Sadly the bar on Runescape is always being raised higher and higher. New content is always being released and there will always be something for players even at the endgame stage to strive towards. Developers and moderators of the game are in constant conversation with the community about what they would like to see from Runescape. So, just when you thought you were done, a new sinkhole for spare time opens up.

Essentially what keeps us hooked is our want for success. Runescape provides this at the cost of many hours which creates a cycle of addiction that players fall victim to.

Loss Aversion

The concept of loss aversion also ties into seeing measurable growth. Ultimately after investing so many hours into the game, your account becomes the project and a token of your hard work. When players spend years grinding to acquire the best gear or reach the highest stats on the leaderboards it increases the value of the account in the player’s eyes.

If you take a trip over the Grand Exchange or spawn in Lumbridge Castle it won’t take long to see all of the richest players flexing their wealth through highly valuable armour and cosmetic items. These accounts are revered and are often seen as milestones by other players. The problem is the effects it has on the owner of the account.

Being the proud owner of a high-level Runescape account leads to many people having rationalisations like this when trying to quit “If I stop playing I’ll lose my spot on the leaderboard” or “I spent so much time levelling up, I can’t just quit” If these excuses sound familiar then keep on reading.

These rationalisations are usually due to the cognitive bias of loss aversion which is avoiding losing something of value. When we do anything that requires a significant investment of personal resources like time, money or emotion, we place great value on it and therefore make it harder to lose it. Hence, people keep playing in order to maintain or not lose the value of their accounts.

The problem with this mode of thinking is although it was likely very useful to us as a hunter-gatherer society. It can be detrimental to our existence in modern-day society. Playing more video games does not increase the value of the account, it only uses up more time.

We encourage our players to look at it like this when trying to quit and cut down. The time and resources invested into the game are gone and have provided you with great times along the way. However, by continuing to play we are not increasing the value of our Runescape account.

It’s almost like trying to wear clothes that we bought a long time ago that don’t fit us anymore as an attempt to not lose our money. We have outgrown our addiction to Runescape and it’s time to give it away.

Social Interaction

Another factor that makes Runescape so addictive is the social side of things. The game encourages players to work together to accomplish raids, complete quests, ambush other players and so on. The freedom within the multiplayer world leads to all sorts of clans and alliances being formed to excel their progression within the game, have fun and make friends.

As light-hearted as it sounds for some individuals this type of social interaction can begin to take precedence over real-life friends and family. Being able to meet up over social communication apps and engage in a game they both find so fun for hours can be a more appealing alternative to engaging in activities in the real world. This is particularly common in people with social anxiety or children and teenagers whose social skills are still developing.

In the long run, prioritising these online relationships leads to reclusive behaviour and exacerbates video game addiction. This reclusive behaviour and damage to personal relationships also contribute to mental illnesses such as depression.


One final thing that Runescape has managed to tap into that sets it apart from other games is the nostalgia factor they have managed to utilise on the older generation of gamers. A running joke amongst the community is “You never truly quit playing Runescape. You simply take really long breaks” However, this seems to resonate in a more of a “funny because it’s true” type of way as players, now in their adulthood, are coming back.

The most popular version of the game is Old School Runescape which is a replica of the extremely successful 2007 servers. They relaunched the game with a free-to-play version in 2015 and watched as the gamers came flooding back to relive their childhood fun. The game was a complete revival of the way the game was in the glory days, with a dedicated development team tending to the requests of the masses.

Players who had left the game as a child were coming back as adults reigniting their love for the game and for those more vulnerable, their addiction. One thing to briefly note is how easily accessible the game is. In 2018 they finally released a version of the game for mobile and tablets catering for those who are addicted to mobile games or believe in “No XP waste.” Not to mention the free-to-play version of the game that has always acted as a gateway to buying Runescape membership.

The limited “F2P” version typically funnels players into the paywall with the free version being so restricted in what you’re allowed to do. In order to have full access to all skills, quests, items and areas of the map you have to buy a membership. Again by making this monthly monetary investment players are left feeling like they have to play in order to get their money’s worth and hence contributing to their addiction.

Signs & Symptoms of Runescape Addiction

Now we understand a bit about what makes Runescape so addictive we should take a look at the signs and symptoms of Runescape addiction so that we can be more vigilant.

Behavioural Signs:

  • Strained personal relationships
  • Neglecting important responsibilities to play Runescape
  • Mood swings and agitation when not playing
  • Neglecting previous hobbies
  • Lying to others to conceal gaming habits

Psychological Signs:

  • Depression and isolation
  • Feeling anxious when not playing
  • Obsessive thinking about Runescape during the day

Physical Signs:

  • Insomnia and sleep problems
  • Neck and back pain
  • Repetitive strain injuries
  • Decline in personal health and hygiene

Every person is different hence these symptoms will vary in presentation and severity. However, if you are experiencing any of these symptoms with your gaming habits in question then it might be time to consider some treatment.

The previously mentioned symptoms have been recognised by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as of 2018. The data they have collected around the world on the consistency in these symptoms have been of enough significance to medical professionals that they have been included in the DSM-5. This is a manual used by American psychologists to diagnose various mental health disorders.

Many of the psychological symptoms of video game addiction are shared with other mental health conditions. Therefore, it is important to seek help from your local medical professional if gaming is severely impacting your mental health.

Runescape Addiction Stories

Sometimes when these addictions develop and no attempt is made to treat them, it often results in catastrophic effects on a person’s life. Here we are going to share some stories of Runescape addiction that should give us an idea of what can lie ahead if we do not get the help we deserve.

One parent of a 16-year-old boy complained that their son was addicted to Runescape. They claimed that he would stay up until 4 am every weekend. His addiction has gotten to the point where he is ignoring his friends, losing weight due to not eating properly and he has no other interests in anything else.

As a result of his unsustainable lifestyle, he misses college as he is too tired from gaming the entire night before. His parents had made attempts in the past to block the site but as the tech-savvy gamer he is, he had found ways around it. Ultimately, his parents had put their foot down and taken his PC away altogether. However, once doing this he goes into a state of depression and will not leave his bed for several days.

A couple of things to take away from this is that some people who are addicted to video games do not see the fault in their behaviour and will continue despite the limitations set by loved ones. Furthermore, recovery from video game addiction can display depressive symptoms when detoxing from video games. So, sometimes the best solution can be to see it through, but more on this later.

A player posted on the r/2007scape subreddit explaining their addiction story and what they experienced. Like we mentioned, Runescape has been around for a long time. This particular gamer had spent the best part of 11 years playing the game. During this time they have invested over 10,000 hours of in-game time. They went on to explain that the idea of Runescape addiction seems silly, however, its effects are very real and has impacted their life significantly.

Their addiction became serious when they went from leisurely logging on to play, to creating excel spreadsheets planning how they will achieve their in-game goals. They found themselves skipping sets at the gym to eagerly get home and play Runescape. He began to neglect his girlfriend as the idea of going out just seemed unappealing. He thought why would I take my girlfriend out on the town for 6 hours when I could immerse myself into Runescape.

He explained that he used to resort to defensive rationalisations to justify the amount of Runescape he played like “I just spend my free time doing what I like” or “Why would I bother going into town if I have more fun here on my PC” These defensive rationalisations only became apparent when he started to practice self-awareness in order to hold himself accountable.

Hopefully building on these skills our addicted gamer here is on the road to recovery. In these examples, you might have noticed some of the red flags of video game addiction and can apply this to your own situation.

For our techniques and guidance on how to overcome Runescape addiction, please read on.

Treating Runescape Addiction

Here we are going to guide you through some of the most effective ways to break your addiction to Runescape. Much of the guidance comes from our self-help program for video game addiction. So, let’s get started!

Identifying Your Addiction

The first step in overcoming Runescape addiction is identifying the problem. The key here is, to be honest with yourself and hold yourself accountable for your actions. Take a look through the following yes or no questions and answer them as truthfully as you can.

  • Do you play for more than 5 hours every day?
  • Is Runescape your main motivation to finish work/school for the day?
  • Do loved ones often bring up your gaming habits?
  • Have your grades or performance at work fallen due to playing Runescape?
  • Do events in Runescape dictate how you feel for the day?

If you find that the answer to the majority of these questions is a yes, then it is likely that you may need to quit or cut down.

Detoxing From Runescape

When we say detox we are referring to removing all Runescape and gaming related content for an extended period of time. We usually recommend 90 days, as this is the optimal amount of time to allow your brain to recover from the chemical changes video game addiction has caused.

When a person plays video games it alters the reward system in their brain. Their brain releases too much dopamine when playing for extended periods of time and hence the brain becomes desensitized to it. This desensitization to dopamine is usually responsible for many withdrawal symptoms hence we must allow our brains the time to naturally recover for symptoms to subside.

Furthermore, most people who suffer from addiction to Runescape cannot remember what life was like before their addiction. Because the game is so important to their lives they cannot imagine life without it. Detoxing provides the opportunity to enjoy other aspects of life outside of gaming. On many occasions, gamers that complete a detox don’t seem to want to come back to playing video games as they are happy with the progress they have made without it. Of course, those who are strong-willed enough can consider playing in moderation.

When cutting out all gaming related content you will be left with a lot of free time so it’s important to find alternative activities to gaming. Most instances of relapse occur due to boredom and simply squandering their newfound free time. So fill your schedule to keep yourself occupied.

Secondly here are a few things we recommend to do in order to make gaming that little bit harder to attain during your detox.

Increase The Barrier For Entry – Gaming and certainly playing Runescape is all too easy to access. We call this having a low barrier to entry. In order to increase the barrier to entry or make Runescape harder to play try these out.

  • Deleting or hiding your Runescape client shortcut from your desktop
  • Giving your account to a family member or someone you trust while you detox
  • Deleting the application or locking it on your mobile device
  • Avoiding communication apps you use with your Runescape or other online friends
  • Avoid YouTube videos, Twitch streams and other Runescape related content

Adding these additional steps should help to limit your exposure to triggers that cause you to play Runescape. Also, these will buy you time to think rationally before making the decision to play Runescape.

CBT and Mindfulness Practices

After you begin your detox from Runescape this is where most people begin to experience withdrawal symptoms which lead to relapse. In order to prevent this, we take our users through the most effective mindfulness and CBT techniques to take power away from addictive thoughts and act in a way consistent with their values.

CBT – Stands for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and is the leading method for treating video game addiction. The principle of CBT focuses on changing negative or unhelpful modes of thinking into healthier thinking patterns. When a person is addicted to Runescape their urges and motivations to play the game often stem from negative or inaccurate thoughts. Hence changing these will also help to change the way we act

CBT treatments consist of thinking strategies to help:

  • Recognise the negative thoughts that lead to their problem and rationalise them
  • Understand behaviour and motivations of other people
  • Facing fears instead of avoiding them
  • Learning to calm the mind and the body
  • Reinforcing positive thoughts

One activity we recommend to help reinforce positive thoughts about your situation as a recovering video game addict is the “Pleasant Thought Journal” This helps to promote gratitude and appreciative emotions about your situation to improve your mood and boost your motivation to continue on your journey.

It’s easy to be depressed and unmotivated to continue with your detox from video games so here is an activity we can use to build some momentum in the right direction.

The activity is simple. Every morning start the day by opening up a journal and writing down 5-10 things that you are grateful for. It could be anything no matter how big or small. It could be your loving partner or your favourite toothbrush. Anything that brings you happiness outside of gaming. By writing down these positive thoughts we boost our appreciation for them and hence improve our mood.

You will slowly begin to find as the days go by that you will want to write more than 5 things as you gain more gratitude towards the positives in your life!

Mindfulness – This is the practice of becoming aware of your thoughts and body in the present moment without making any judgements. The application of this to video game addiction is to allow the individual to ground themselves when they are feeling cravings and acknowledge their thoughts without judgement. This will help to remove the emotional attachment to their cravings and hence reduce the power that they have over them.

So many might be wondering how do I practise mindfulness? One useful meditation we recommend to all of our users is the “Mindful Breathing Exercise” This teaches us to shift our attention to our breathing when we begin to feel overwhelmed by negative or addictive thoughts.

  • To begin, find a quiet room free from distractions
  • Close your eyes or focus on a point in the room
  • Start by turning your attention to your breath. Slowly inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth
  • Take notice of the sensations that occur with each breath
  • Simply notice the air inhaled through your nose has a cold sensation and the warm air you exhale through your mouth
  • Take notice of the gentle rise and fall of your chest and stomach as you inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth
  • Your thoughts will begin to wander and move away from your breathing. When this happens, gently bring your focus back to your breathing and the sensations you’re feeling
  • Even if your mind wanders a hundred or a thousand times during the exercise, each time just gently and calmly return to your breath

The more you practice this exercise the less you find that your mind wanders away from where you want it. This is great news as it means our mindfulness skills are improving and we are more able to shift our focus away from addictive thoughts. The best thing about these meditations is that they can be done anywhere so give them a try!

If you feel like you have been playing too much Runescape and you want to quit and cut down The Mindful Gamer is always here to help.