9 Signs of League of Legends Addiction

League of Legends is currently the most played PC game in the world. It averages over 8 million concurrent users at it's daily peak and growing. That's big. So big in fact, that it even surpasses the top 10 games on Steam, combined.

Getting those numbers didn't take luck. It took a conscious effort with teams dedicated towards optimizing the game to be as replayable and addictive as possible. Daily tasks, seasonal ranking systems, and many other components of the game were engineered with this in mind.

I, like many others, had been in denial about having a league of legends addiction. I spent over six hour a day grinding towards diamond. League of Legends was my life. I prioritized League of Legends over my relationships, other hobbies, and career.

This resulted in me coming out of high school with a 1.8 GPA, little to no social skills, and only having 'friends' whose common interest was derived from sharing an addiction. Luckily, one day I had a massive losing streak that lasted for an entire day. This was the push I needed to finally question what I was doing with my life. After realizing I was going towards an unsustainable future, I took the steps necessary to quit League of Legends before going to college and never looked back.

If you are reading this, then you are awesome. Not just because it's true, but because you are introspective and have proactive interest in your well-being. You want to ensure you aren't giving away your potential and limited time on earth for pixelated borders and short-lived dopamine highs.

Without further ado, here are some warning signs that you can use to gauge whether you have a League of Legends addiction or not. These signs are heavily based on the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) criteria for diagnosing gaming addiction.

Signs of League of Legends Addiction

1. You continue to play games when tilted

If you often find yourself playing when tilted then you most likely have a hard time regulating your play time.

This is because tilting is done in compulsion. You don't really think about taking a break from tilting until your expectations are met. This usually means getting an end result that either offsets or surpasses the losses before it.

Tilting sucks because it not only results in you playing worse, but also results in feeling worse. In order to get to that stopping point you desire, your time and equanimity is sacrificed for the chance of the ends justifying the means. The longer you tilt, the more drained and destructive you become in order to get that dopamine fix of winning.

2. 'One more game' is one more lie

We all say one more game from time to time, but the severity of this impulsion is derived from the outcome.

If a healthy gamer says one more game, he means it. Whether he is 23/3/10 as Lee Sin or fed Riven all game in ranked. Regardless of the match's result, he stopped playing after that one game. This is because he knows how to detach himself from the game, prioritizing the next thing he wants, or needs to do with his life.

If an unhealthy gamer says one more game, he may truly mean it, but due to neurological and psychological reasons that drive his addictive behavior, he has a much harder time controlling himself. If you say one more game and often find yourself lying about that outcome, that could be a big tell that you have an addiction at play.

3. Your mood is heavily influenced by your game outcomes

Video games are meant to be a fun pastime activity. It's perfectly okay to momentarily feel bad when things go against your expectations, like getting ganked and dying, but that feeling should be fleeting after it has been processed.

The problem is when negative emotions become prolonged from such game outcomes. It is not healthy for your current mood to be dictated by toxic teammates being hostile at you or a Baron steal that threw your promotional ranked match four hours ago.

At that point, instead of League of Legends enriching your life, it's a vice that hinders it. You don't have an outlet for stress anymore, that is a source of stress in itself.

4. Your character drastically changes in-game

Speaking of being toxic, if you often find yourself being rude or hostile towards your teammates that go against your expectations, you may definitely be too invested in playing League of Legends.

You could be a nice person in real life, but when you play ranked or even normal games, you become a different animal. You become too fixated on the outcome, and as a result, bring out the worst in yourself and others who take your behavior personally.

Telling the support to go fuck themselves for missing a Blitzcrank hook isn't normal. The problem is not with themselves or their playing, but with yourself and your overinvestment to the game and it's outcomes.

5. You developed additional bad habits from playing League

Due to playing League of Legends for prolonged periods of time, you develop bad habits. You may sleep much later than usual playing ranked, or eat anything you can find, healthy or not, in order to shut your stomach up and play.

6. You have withdrawal symptoms

You aren't crazy for having drug-like cravings to play Riven throughout your family vacation. Behavioral addictions are no joke. This study showed that behavioral addiction is just like substance addiction, but without having physical symptoms.

Although physical sweats won't come out of top lane withdrawal, you will still have strong, compulsive urges to play when your brain hasn't gotten the dopamine fix it's used to. This is due to neuroplasticity, which is just a fancy term for your brain being adaptable to save energy. Your brain has most likely wired itself to crave League.

7. Life doesn't satisfy you like League does

Besides having withdrawal symptoms, League addiction results in a numbed response to pleasure. Cleaning your room might have been a 5/10 activity on the pleasure scale but due to League addiction, it becomes a 2/10 activity. It seems like League of Legends is the only thing that satisfies you anymore.

Neurologically, this is due to overstimulation brought on by playing everyday for hours on end to the point of desensitizing the reward center of your brain. This part of the brain is responsible for incentivizing motivation for you to put effort into doing things. Your reward system builds up tolerance to compensate for the overstimulation. You'd need to play more to feel the same level of excitement you felt before.

8. Your sense of self-worth is derived from your rank and skill

League of Legends brings out toxicity, overinvestment, and addiction mainly because of it's competitive atmosphere. Ranks and ranked games can 'provide' us with ways to attain status, respect, and accomplishment. Such factors make up our esteem needs.

Now this isn't bad for someone who gets their esteem needs from other healthy, sustainable outlets, like being good at piano or having a fulfilling career. This is a problem for those who solely derive their sense of self-worth from their League of Legends playing ability and rank. Playing is not a pastime anymore, it becomes an innate desire to prove your self-worth to the world and to attain other self-esteem needs you may lack offline.

If you derive your self-esteem and identity from League, it is short-lived, turbulent, and ultimately unhealthy. The problem is that League of Legends is not a sustainable means of getting your esteem needs met. Your source of confidence depends on how good you and your teammates played (luck) and how high your rank is.

Even if you become a cool kid that is challenger, it may give you status and respect, but only to League players. Oh yeah, and the rank, along with your self-worth, vanishes every season too. Your self-esteem should be derived from a solid foundation that isn't volatile.

Coping with unmet needs is one of the biggest reasons that drive self-destructive behavior. If you believe you are using League of Legends to cope with lacking esteem needs, then you most definitely have an addiction.

9. League is used to avoid life problems or obligations

There is nothing wrong with using League to cope with negative emotions, such as boredom or stress. With that, it's just like any other pastime. The pastime turns into addictive behavior when you consciously choose to play League despite it having negative consequences to your life. Instead of resolving the sources that are causing your problems, you distract yourself with ranked games. Instead of enriching aspects of your life you lack, you choose to avoid working on them in favor of League.

You find this to be a perpetual cycle that you can't, or are afraid of getting out of. The problems seem to be too big to bear or impossible to solve. The obligations of life seem mundane and unworthy the effort. League is that safe haven that allows you to avoid such adversities and nuances you face in life.

Unfortunately, it's not a safe haven, it's a self-imposed prison. You and me both know avoidance doesn't solve our problems. The problems get bigger and bigger until they are solved or it's too late. By prioritizing League of Legends over your relationships, career, and other enriching aspects of your life, you aren't living life anymore, you're avoiding it.


There you have it, nine signs of League of Legends addiction. If you find yourself resonating with most of these signs, you may likely have an addiction on your hands. Keep in mind, this doesn't represent a true diagnosis. Only a medical professional has the credentials to accurately diagnose behavioral addiction.

If you feel like you have a problem, then you should have an effective action plan for quitting League of Legends. If not, now you know the signs that other friends and family may have who play League a lot. If you feel like they may have one of more of the signs, consider politely expressing your concern and giving them a link to this article. It may change their life and they may feel the need to thank you with unlimited ice cream, you never know.

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