You May Be Addicted To Wargaming

Is wargaming an addiction? Pimpcron wants to know.

Okay, so after being accused of having an addiction to Warhammer a thousand times by my wife, let’s see if we are. I’ll show her. And if it turns out that I do have an addiction, then I just won’t tell her about my article. Which is just fine and not at all because I feel ashamed. I mean, why couldn’t I just be addicted to gambling, drugs,  or something else that is less expensive than wargaming?

Save money, quit Warhammer and start drugs! (Just kidding, they cost about the same.)

As with all very serious life decisions, I turned to a random website for help. I have the utmost faith in strangers on the web, and while conventional wisdom would lead you to believe otherwise, they can be helpful. I mean, just today some benevolent Saudi prince emailed me about holding his gold for him. My social security number and bank account number were a small price to pay for GOLD! And before you make fun of me, why would I NEED social security if I have gold? Let that sink in.

The random stranger’s website I used was How Addiction Hijacks the Brain if you want to check my facts for yourself.

What Is Addiction?

“The brain registers all pleasures in the same way, whether they originate with a psychoactive drug, a monetary reward, a sexual encounter, or a satisfying meal. In the brain, pleasure has a distinct signature: the release of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the nucleus accumbens, a cluster of nerve cells lying underneath the cerebral cortex (see illustration). Dopamine release in the nucleus accumbens is so consistently tied with pleasure that neuroscientists refer to the region as the brain’s pleasure center.

Addictive drugs provide a shortcut to the brain’s reward system by flooding the nucleus accumbens with dopamine. The hippocampus lays down memories of this rapid sense of satisfaction, and the amygdala creates a conditioned response to certain stimuli.”

“Repeated exposure to an addictive substance or behavior causes nerve cells in the nucleus accumbens and the prefrontal cortex (the area of the brain involved in planning and executing tasks) to communicate in a way that couples liking something with wanting it, in turn driving us to go after it. That is, this process motivates us to take action to seek out the source of pleasure.”

Doin’ some liftin’ getting ready to learn a whole new rule set for 40k.

So Are We Wargaming/Hobbying Addicts?

According to, addiction is not always clear cut or easy to identify, but they have come up with a couple questions that may prove to be warning signs.

A “yes” answer to any of the following three questions suggests you might have a problem with addiction and should—at the very least—consult a health care provider for further evaluation and guidance.

Do you use more of the substance or engage in the behavior more often than in the past?

Uh, yeah, I’ve been progressively playing, hobbying and thinking about wargaming more and more as time has went on. I work with a friend of mine who also plays wargames and that’s nearly all we talk about while working. My youngest child is named Marneus, our dog is named Norn Queen, and I won’t wear anything that doesn’t have at least one double-headed Imperial Eagle.


Do you have withdrawal symptoms when you don’t have the substance or engage in the behavior?

Okay, this one is a little unclear and is obviously directed at actual, physical withdrawal from a substance. But when I think about it, I do think that we all get an urge to play wargames or hobby, and that does get stronger with time as we don’t play them. If I miss our weekly wargaming group on Wednesdays, I feel disappointed. I look forward to that night every single week. Is that withdrawal? Not really, but there seems to be an underlying theme between the two. I mean, I get sad if I miss Taco Night, does that make me addicted to tacos? Okay, I’m probably addicted to tacos. But that is NOT the point.

Have you ever lied to anyone about your use of the substance or extent of your behavior?




[gasping] I can’t breathe. Oh God, I can’t breathe. [gasping] Get it together Pimpcron.

Okay. Okay.

I am a married man. I am old enough to make money, and buy what I want without feeling guilty. Have I ever lied to my wife about buying Warhammer? Have I ever bought something and hid it from her?

Well, to answer that …

…So what are your thoughts on your addiction to wargaming? I mean, if we are being honest we could see many, many links between our buying, hobbying, and playing habits and other addictive habits. Like my crippling addiction to stamp-eating. Man I love the crisp, minty taste of a dry stamp while I hide in the closet because I told my wife I had stopped doing that. Back when it was really bad, I’d go through a couple rolls of stamps a week.

~Be Honest, Do You Think Our Hobby Can Cross The Line Into An Addiction?

Like your addiction to Pimpcron articles, but nobody has a cure for being addicted to sexy robot shenanigans.

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  • euansmith

    Yes. Next question.

    • I really had to twist your arm there, didn’t I? lol

  • Tshiva keln

    Well, I’m a dick but I’m not called Ted.

    • That took way longer than it should for me to get that. Haha

      • Tshiva keln

        Don’t worry, if your systems are running slow you can always shoot yourself. You shouldn’t have a problem reanimating these days and you’ll be good as new.

  • Rainthezangoose

    Well considering I used to be a smoker. All joking aside I think its hard to call wargaming an addiction in all seriousness, and I fit all these bills and have an addictive personality. I LOVE me some wargaming. But until your addicted to something such as tobacco and actually quit you can’t understand what kind of experience that is like. But it is pretty damn close!

  • Mathew G. Smith

    Emotionally addicting maybe. Physical is a whole other kettle of fish.

    • euansmith

      Man, I just can’t stop eating those kettles o’ fish.

  • benn grimm

    Well, after taking your scientifically perfect assessment, it turns out I’m ok with wargaming, I just have a bit of a problem with hard drugs. Came as a bit of a surprise I must say, always considered myself a casual user…;)

    • Tshiva keln

      Now retake the test regarding slapping mime artists. You may be surprised there too.

    • dave long island

      You’re addicted to them fancy Gamma Rays, Benn.

      • benn grimm

        They are very moreish..;)

  • Nocturus

    Let me ask a question about your stamp eating problem. Did you actually quit, or did the post office’s change to the more sticker like stamps force you to quit?

    • I see you’re a fellow Stampee. Normals wouldn’t think about that. It only served to slow me down for a time. I’ve started importing foreign stamps now that still have lickable-glue. 😀

  • Luca Lacchini

    I smoke, I drink, I buy plastic and resin figures for at least 3 different tabletop wargames, PC and console videogames, comic books and graphic novels, boardgames of various genres, and a whole lot of RPGs.

    Tell me something I don’t know yet.

  • wibbling

    Too much of addiction is rooted in the inability to separate need with want. When that becomes a physiological dependence, you’ve a problem, when it’s merely satisfying the primitive brain for possessing something, it’s usually ok.

    The problems of gratification lie – as with all things – when indulgence fills an emotional void, where things replace contentment and the joy of hobby is replaced by the craving for control, ownership, for power. Win at all costs gamers suffer from this as their ego is directly linked to their ability to possess rather than to enjoy.

    • NagaBaboon

      It’s also a pretty good sign when you spend money you need for more important things on the substance or behaviour. I think most of us are actually pretty rational with our purchases, yeah it costs us a lot of money but it isn’t going to stop our kids being fed. Well not for most of us anyway.

  • Holy crap that’s a lot of GW stuff in that pic. Is that a GW store? That’s more GW merch than our puny little GW store and probably about 50% of what the 10 or so FLGS in my are carry combined.

    • dave long island

      Yah, that’s what I thought. ‘Tis a righteous inventory of GW product, to be sure.

  • Jay Barton

    I think it depends on if the person is willing to say no or not to getting more. There was a point where i was buying to try; after a while of not being able to make anything work I looked at how much I had spent and stopped. (Actually I switched to a different game and ran with that for a while; until I moved to a highly competitive area then stopped). I like my minis and painting, but what’s the point of buying to get frustrated while playing?

  • orionburn

    Just because I choose to paint my miniatures in an RV in the middle of a desert and show up one day buck naked at a convenience store doesn’t mean I have an addiction!

  • piglette

    Maybe if I make this next purchase my life will have meaning. Nope? Ah, well *nihilist joke*

  • Agent of Change

    I mean it’s a silly/serious question isn’t it.

    You have generally to separate the Emotional Dependency/Physical Dependency combination that usually defines substance abuse. But i’m going to say Yes it’s possible as someone probably closer to having a gaming problem than not.

    I mean all of the following are true: Can you make poor life decisions based on gaming habits? Can you damage personal relationships over gaming habits? Can you actively restructure you time in a detrimental way over gaming habits?

    Like anything it’s about impulse control and reasonable limits. Lacking them becomes maladaptive and when you have emotional drive that overrides good sense it’s so close to addiction in an academic sense that it becomes indistinguishable. I mean you can be addicted to nearly anything that the brain can generate a dopamine spike (basically anything.. brain chemistry go figure) over the only things that vary are the severity of physical and social consequences.

    • euansmith

      This is 40k, shouldn’t that be “Malaladaptive”? 😉

  • Drew

    As long as you’re not sacrificing the more important things in life (work, family, house, savings, non-gamer friends, etc.) while chasing that wargaming thrill, I think you’re OK. Once any of those things are threatened or called into question by your hobby, it’s time to put the dice down and walk away. Quickly. =)

  • So…I wrote something about this back in 2009:

    I call it “The Sickness”. I had it then, and I’ve got it now.

  • Nick Silver

    So with regards to the more expensive than drugs statement, the free market forces have increased the price to the point where our demand is just about the entirety of our disposable income. If you start spending your rent money on minis then yeah, please stop.

  • A Smith

    Pimpcron doing the only BoLS content worth reading these days.