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15 February 2012
World of Warcraft wives' woes
by George Atkinson

New research from Brigham Young University indicates that 36 percent of multi-player online role-playing gamers are married and that their gaming creates considerable stress in the marriage.

The average age of the respondents in the survey was 33, and the average marriage length was 7 years. Of those couples in which only one spouse gamed, 84 percent of the players were the husbands.

Reported in the Journal of Leisure Research, the study found that 75 percent of spouses of sword-carrying, avatar-loving gamers wish they would put less effort into their guilds and more effort into their marriage. "It's common knowledge that many couples experience challenges around gaming," researcher Neil Lundberg said. "Particularly when husbands are heavy gamers, it clearly has a negative impact on their marriages."

Interestingly, the study revealed it's not the time spent playing games that caused dissatisfaction, but rather the resulting arguments or disrupted bedtime routines. "It's not the hours that make a difference," Lundberg said. "It's really what it does to the relationship - whether or not it creates conflict and quarreling over the game."

It's not all bad news, however. The study found that for couples in which both spouses play, 76 percent said that gaming has a positive effect on their marital relationship. And for those who do game together, interacting with each other's avatars leads to higher marital satisfaction. However, both must be satisfied with their mutual participation.

"This study really does verify that gaming has an effect on marital satisfaction," Lundberg noted. "It's not just a random occurrence that a few couples are dealing with. Based on the large number of married gamers [36 percent], we can assume this is a widespread issue."

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Source: Brigham Young University

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