Online Medieval Fantasy Games -- Threat to Marital
THURSDAY, Feb. 16 (HealthDay News) -- Marital harmony may be in
short supply in households where one partner is immersed in online
games such as World of Warcraft, Lord of the Rings and Guild Wars,
new research suggests.
When one spouse spends time in this online fantasyland, it can
threaten marital satisfaction, said researcher Neil Lundberg, an
assistant professor of recreation management at Brigham Young
In this study, published in the Feb. 15 issue of the
Journal of Leisure Research, Lundberg and his team polled 349 couples. Of those, 132 were marriages in which one person played online games; the other 217 were marriages in which both played but one played more than the other.
In those marriages where just one partner played, the
investigators found 70 percent of the gamers and 75 percent of
their spouses said the activity had a slightly negative to a very
negative effect on the marriage.
"This study clearly verifies that video gaming can be a significant impediment to happy marriages," Lundberg said.
However, there was a surprise finding: those who played together
generally liked it, with 76 percent saying it had a positive effect
on their marriage.
The games are always ''on" and play in real time, Lundberg said.
"It's very engaging in terms of its environment. It has the
potential to really capture people's time use."
Some find the chance to "become" a dragon slayer or other
medieval hero irresistible, he noted.
The fallout from too much video gaming included quarreling,
which was more common when one partner gamed and the other
The couples were about age 33 and married about seven years, the
study authors noted.
The gamers put in 17 to 22 hours a week, often in addition to
work and family responsibilities.
"It's like a part-time job," Lundberg said.
The friction occurs, Lundberg said, because the gaming
interferes with communication and connection time. Couples in which
one partner gamed reported, for instance, that they went to bed at
The amount of conflict stirred up, rather than just the amount
of time spent playing, made the impact on marital satisfaction, he
In recruiting people for the study, Lundberg said he went to
gaming sites and social media sites. He received negative reaction,
he said, from extreme gaming sites. He said they may have been
loathe to take a few minutes away from their gaming to answer the
The finding about gaming ''widows" doesn't surprise Eve Kilmer,
a Denver psychologist who specializes in couples counseling.
A partner who reaches out to communicate but is often ignored
because the spouse is engrossed in gaming is eventually going to
become dissatisfied, she said.
"In someone prone to addiction, there may be underlying intimacy issues anyway," she added.
For a spouse who feels like a gaming "widow" or "widower,"
Kilmer suggests addressing the issue in a positive way.
"If you are going to bring it up with your spouse, you don't want to be critical," she said. Instead of telling a partner what you wish he wouldn't do, tell him how you feel when he does it, she suggested.
Telling your partner, for instance, that too much gaming makes
you feel unimportant and unloved ''is more likely to evoke
understanding and empathy," Kilmer said.
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