Distracted to Divorce
News from the UK says excessive video game playing can lead directly to divorce. After Ryan Van Cleave published his 2010 book “Unplugged: My Journey Into The Dark World Of Video Game Addiction” that detailed the woes of a college professor, husband and father who wrecked his life playing the World of Warcraft and Call of Duty video games, the perils of video game addiction received a lot of international press.
Now, new studies conducted by various researchers in Britain claim that 15% of the divorces in the UK can be attributed to spouses who are addicted to online gaming. The UK-based Divorce Online group recently confirmed the suspicions that video games lead to divorce after it examined several hundred recent divorce cases that were based on the premise that far too many men in the UK were much happier playing video games than they were when spending time with their spouses. A full 15 percent of the wives said their husband’s addiction to video games was the prime “unreasonable” behavior that led to their divorces.
One main problem with video game addiction is that many non-gaming spouses do not realize it’s a true addiction until it is too late to save a marriage or relationship. The result is not that game-obsessed husbands consciously choose to spend their time playing games instead of spending time with their spouse and family, the behavior is compulsive, and it is widespread. Over 11 million gamers worldwide are subscribers to the World of Warcraft game alone today, and if the numbers mean anything, it is that there could be about a half-a-million divorces coming to family courts as a result.
Games like Warcraft and Call of Duty have already been the subject of criticism in the past due to their recognizable addictive properties. As the toll of husbands obsessed with video games continues to increase, some observers and clinicians are claiming that they can be just as addictive as an illegal drug like cocaine. Non-gamers don’t understand the lure of the games and they are often the last to realize it can be a real addiction. Instead, the neglected wives and families of addicted gamers are resentful because they simply feel disrespected. On the bright side, if there is one, addiction professionals say that like an addiction to gambling, video game addiction does not have to result in ruined relationships and eventual divorce if the gamer is afforded the proper addiction treatment and support before their lives are a complete shambles.
Some experts are claiming that the number of gamers who step across the line into obsessive-compulsive online game playing has increased from the estimated 5 percent just one year ago to the present 15 percent level because the economy in the UK (and elsewhere) has been so bad recently. Lacking the resources to take a vacation or travel, more and more online gamers find it all too easy to get sucked into the bad habit of staying home and playing video games all day. Other family services professionals are not so generous with their appraisals though, and some say that the most men addicted to video games are simply choosing to escape unhappy relationships and that an eventual divorce probably would have been in the cards for them anyway.
As the incidence of failed marriages is increasingly tied to excessive video game participation, perhaps the games of the future should include warning labels that advise users of the potential marital risks they can represent. If implemented, the video game warning label of the future might read something like this: Warning ““ Use at your own risk. This video game can be dangerous to your relationships and health. It may impair your decision making and lead to sleep deprivation, loss of family, friends and social standing. The manufacturer is not responsible for the loss of employment, relationships or long term psychological problems.