When looking at some of the most addictive games out there it would be foolish to not consider the titles on Microsoft’s titan of the gaming industry… the Xbox. On our list, we are going to break down why these games seem to rope players in and a couple of ways to cut down on gaming if you find yourself playing a bit too much for your liking.

5. Overwatch

Kicking off our list is Blizzard’s own first-person shooter Overwatch. Players duke it out in fast-paced competitive game modes using a wide variety of characters and roles. Being able to play as a shuriken wielding cyborg ninja or change to a revolver toting cowboy at will makes this game so fun and a lot to learn. With such diverse gameplay, they offer an opportunity for at least something for everyone. 

Finding the character that clicks for you and getting good with them often leaves players investing hours on end to master their main. As we previously mentioned, Overwatch is an extremely competitive game hooking those who love tight ranked games between skilled players that leave their hearts racing. 

The game as of 2020 has over 10 million monthly players still trying to test themselves and make it to the top. Of course, Overwatch like most games nowadays has a levelling up system whereby playing games earns the user XP to unlock crates with the chance to acquire rare cosmetic items. This sense of gratification from the perceived success of levelling up and progressing messes with the reward centres of our brain and causes addictive behaviours towards video games. So be mindful of how much you are playing.

4. Gears 5

The fifth and most successful instalment of the Gears of War franchise finds itself delivering a deep and thrilling plot in the story mode while maintaining the old school, action-packed, third-person shooter the die-hard fans loved! The immersive apocalyptic storyline does a great job of getting the players invested. 

The problem is many gaming addicts love the feeling of escape you can derive from a gripping story mode. Escapism is one of the major causes of video game addiction and often stems from not being able to cope with underlying issues healthily. If your motivations to play video games are to get away from problems rather than a recreational activity then this may be a concern. 

The social aspect of Gears is another reason that it is so addictive as it creates an opportunity to connect with others. Working through the co-op campaign or battling against other players with friends can often be many people’s social stimulation, causing them to miss out on life’s important face to face friendships. A common symptom of video game addiction is damage to personal social relationships so it is important to be aware of this when questioning your gaming habits.

3. Cuphead

The infuriatingly addictive platformer is a beautifully crafted world made in the style of 1930’s cartoons. The premise is simple: avoid obstacles and projectiles, shoot your way past enemies and make it to the boss of the level. This is where the hours stack up as these extremely challenging boss fights require the player to learn numerous attack patterns of increasing difficulty. By the final boss who is the devil, both in form and function, players fight multiple consecutive bosses before finally reaching him, all of which must be done without getting hit 3 times otherwise it’s back to the drawing board. 

The sheer challenge of this game alone is what made so many players invest so many hours into it. Furthermore, the additional challenge of gaining 3 stars in a level by completing it in perfect time with no mistakes is always there for those gifted enough to find the game too easy. 

However, the addictive nature of Cuphead is a lot deeper than what we see on the surface. The feel-good sensation we gain from completing a level can damage our perception of success. The reward centre of our brains is an advantageous system in place to help us achieve great long term goals and triumphs as human beings. It explains why we consider those who have completed difficult tasks in life as successful. The problem is many video games create a shortcut to these triumphant feelings and begin to skew our ability to gain motivation to achieve these long term goals in life. 

Many who suffer from video game addiction have motivation issues as a result of needing this instant gratification. We will dive into ways to treat gaming addiction later, but it’s important to recognise that if you feel like video games have been holding you back then there may be a problem.

2. Red Dead Redemption 2

This game has been one of the most popular action-adventure games since its release in 2018. The game is primarily appreciated by gamers who have zen patience, appreciation for serene settings and attention to detail. The game is jam-packed with content as the story alone has roughly 60 hours of gameplay. When we factor in the free-roaming capabilities, hundreds of sidequests, favours and interactions to have along the way this game can sap some serious time! 

To earn such a high spot on our list Red Dead Redemption 2 ticks a lot of boxes when it comes to addictive qualities. The game offers a stimulating new world to explore and feed people’s need for escapism. There are various in-game rewards and achievements to unlock in order to appeal to the completionists out there. Finally, with the multiplayer released a month after the initial game’s launch Red Dead 2 does it all. A study conducted on players of the game gained an addiction risk score of 36 on the Greenfield Video Game Addiction Test. 41.2 or higher being highly indicative of video game addiction. 

1. Minecraft

At the top spot on this list, we have the crowned king of addictiveness… Minecraft. Also included in the aforementioned study you’ll be shocked to know that Minecraft scored higher than Red Dead Redemption 2 with 37.9, just scraping ahead. 

The game has amassed 140 million monthly players since its release on PC in 2011 so it made sense that the Xbox release was just around the corner. Although the game is played by all ages, If you have kids it’s likely that you have heard about Minecraft as it is extremely popular amongst children. But what is it that makes Minecraft so addictive? 

Minecraft covers many of the addictive features of other video games. There are massive multiplayer servers available so you can engage with all of your friends, a viable ending to defeat the ender dragon and adventure maps made by other players and achievements galore to accomplish during your time playing. 

The one thing that makes Minecraft so addictive above all else is its freedom and encouragement of creativity. Within the game, you can quite rightfully so, mine, craft and build almost anything. With the game’s simple and amazing code it has encouraged players to expand beyond the limitations set by the developers. Players can make their own online servers with minigames they invented, use mod packs with beautiful new landscapes, creatures and items. They can design grand cities and structures to explore or delve into the competitive side with PVP and speedrunning. The possibilities are literally endless and through this Minecraft has earned itself the top spot on the list of most addictive Xbox games. 

Relying on the player’s imagination to decide what they want to do is likely why this game is so addictive to children, as their wild ideas can be brought to life. Minecraft truly has something for everyone and often leads to people spending long hours working on their perceived goals within the game.

How to Cut Down on Video Games

Video game addiction has been growing in notoriety since its recognition by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as an official disorder back in 2018. As many might have seen in recent news, China has taken extreme measures by placing a ban on video games for children under the age of 18. The restriction allows them 3 hours in total from the hours of 8-9 pm Friday to Sunday as an attempt to prevent the development of video game addiction in children. China however isn’t the only country to be facing problems with video game addiction as South Korea is taking the steps to pass video game addiction as an official disease suggesting that they are dealing with a national crisis on their hands.

In order to cut down on gaming here are some proven methods to treat video game addiction:

Increase the Barrier for Entry – By this we mean to make it harder for you to play video games. In our daily lives, we strive to make things easier so that we can follow a life of little resistance. The principle of increasing the barrier of entry is to make video games less accessible and therefore less appealing to us on a daily basis. 

Some effective methods are unplugging and hiding video game consoles. Out of sight and out of mind, if you feel the urge to play video games you have time to rationalise and catch yourself before you binge on games again. If self-imposed limits aren’t enough you could even ask a family member or friend to take it off you to hold you accountable. 

Finally, deleting or uninstalling the addictive games you play is another viable option. The idea of waiting all that time in order to come back and play can serve as a great way to increase the barrier for entry.

Mindfulness – Although this might sound strange to some. Mindfulness is incorporated into all modern forms of CBT to treat video game addiction. It is clinically proven to reduce addictive symptoms and reduce the risk of relapse in addicts. Mindfulness can be practised through meditations either guided or by yourself. 

The premise of each exercise is to teach you to be aware of your mind and body in the present moment without judgement. Helping to bring your attention away from any negative cravings or feelings you might be having.

If you’re worried about your gaming habits or concerned for the health of a loved one, The Mindful Gamer is always here to help.