Maplestory X Depression X Breaks X Prevention Method
I have always wondered why it seemed to me that Maplestory players seemed to have some depression, sadness, or anger -- perhaps a high amount of emotions. I wasn't sure if it was caused by Maplestory, or maybe if depressed people would flock to the game, and perhaps if I was seeing a connection that wasn't there. However, now I have somewhat of an idea that it could actually be caused by playing Maplestory for extended period. I do not believe everyone is aware of this information, because otherwise it would be talked about more and we may have guides on how to play healthily, So I will disseminate this information given the chance this may help someone.
Coupling ideas from my non-detailed research from articles and posts related to depression, I have found a possible mechanism -- onset decreased neocortex activity and later size and later-decreased limbic system size and increased activity in the reward areas caused by the game/reward structure of Maplestory -- which may lead to blunting of the positive reward response and increase in negative reward response -- or other games and the subsequent increased game-play caused by this -- by which Maplestory or other games would be an outlet for its players who play large amounts to become depressed, and how constant breaks in game-play, journal-keeping, and chronic exercise may help reverse this process.
I have a simple thought process for this mechanism, but there are multiple things I must discuss for understanding.
Depression leads to a decreased mental state. Maplestory's repetitive and easy nature of game-play, which you may see through the repetitive grinding, may cause decreased activity in the brain compared to what humans would normally experience through interaction with people and exercise. The repetitive nature gets more pronounced the further you go along in the game since you may train for hours at one spot for adequate leveling. Thus at any point when you are training, you may enter this decreased state, and so since you have entered a state which is also mimicked by depression, you may also mimic the feelings of depression even though you aren't actually depressed, and this may persist until you allow yourself recovery through intermittent breaks.
This decreased mental state is constant in depression because there are changes in brain activity and size of different regions which persist for a while without treatment. The main regions are the neocortex, which is responsible for emotional control, and the limbic system, which is the reward center and flight or fight area of the brain. During depression, the neocortex is shown to have decreased activity and size, which would mean any negative or positive emotions are more pronounced. Your limbic system, however, shows increased activity, which may cause you to have a higher drive for rewards, compacted by your emotional state, and also have higher anxiousness due to your increased flight or fight response.
Now, if you look at the way Maplestory is structured, you may notice that as you go along, it is more difficult to be rewarded. Perhaps before you could level in 1-10 minutes, and that increases to 11-30, then 30-45, 45-50, and so on, it's a variable increase, so you keep having longer periods of not being rewarded. Then later after you have leveled, you may also get into rng aspects to upgrade equipments. The rewards are "random," and so you have variable rates of success. You may take some hours to farm cubes and you may not get what you want until a few hours, or maybe a few days.
When you are rewarded quickly, your limbic system shall show increased reward response, thus increased activity. Since it takes a longer time to be rewarded as you go along, your level of pleasurable reward decreases, your neocortex has to work harder since you are doing repetitive tasks and are bored/irritated, and your neocortex runs out of fuel and your emotions will be stronger. If you get into the rng aspects -- especially with the increased limbic response -- you may keep playing for longer or keep spending money because you will constantly seek the reward -- thus your neocortex will continuously work and be depleted. Since the brain is like a muscle and needs recovery, this may cause chronic decreased neocortex activity and size like how your muscles may decrease in size without proper recovery or exercise, as well as a decrease in size in the limbic system, blunted positive reward response from use, and increased activity in negative emotional areas -- including anxiety.
Previously I said that depression shows some increase in limbic activity -- and decrease in neocortex activity.
So if you look at the structure of the reward system in the game again, you will see the possibility of depression or depression-like symptoms from chronic game-play, which also causes decreased neuronal activity and production.
Add to that decreased physical activity and you can see how your mental health is affected.
However, if this line of reasoning does hold some validity for you and from your experience see Maplestory as a potential cause of some depression-like things, you don't have to necessarily worry or quit unless you have trouble doing the things I suggest. I have a plan for you that may possibly reverse the process and may help you to learn due to increased emotional and reward response. It is simple. You would take a break from the game after an hour of playing to help your neocortex recover, and every time you would feel bad or irritated, you would write about that experience: what and why you were feeling that way at the time. This type of journal-keeping and introspection break may help keep up your neuron production and reshape the memory of your experience into the thoughts of your journal entry. You can also couple this with healthy snacking or a meal to further reward yourself.
And you should be fine if you already don't play for longer than 1 or 2 hours per day and spend time talking to people, exercise, or doing some type of meditation or learning or something.
I do believe that sticking to this process religiously would help combat depression or general foul mood while playing Maplestory and any other game for a long time-- or anything that may put you into a depressed state or tired your brain, and may even increase your intelligence.
You can do it!
Maplestory has mechanisms to cause depression. The mechanisms are decreased neocortex activity and excited limbic system from the reward structure/playstyle of the game. You may be able to prevent this brain activity with breaks, light exercise, and journal-keeping after a negative experience in-game if you play a lot.