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Online Role-Playing Games May Damage Your Marriage

This recent research result can be filed under common sense. A survey conducted by scientists at Brigham Young University found that the excessive role-playing could lead to a decrease of marital satisfaction. 75 percent of respondents said that they would expect their video-game loving partners to put more effort to keep their marriage alive than their sword-swinging avatar.

"It's common knowledge that many couples experience challenges around gaming," said recreation management professor Neil Lundberg. "Particularly when husbands are heavy gamers, it clearly has a negative impact on their marriages." According to the researchers, the hours of video gaming do not matter. It's the video game by itself, "whether or not it creates conflict and quarreling over the game." It appears that especially disrupted bedtime routines is a result and further cause for arguments.

The study covered 349 couples and did not definitively label gaming a marriage killer. 76 percent of couples who are gaming together said that online role-playing has a positive effect on their marriage, especially when the couple interact via avatars. "Not all video games are bad," said graduate student Michelle Ahlstrom. "Some are fun leisure pursuits that when played together may strengthen your relationships with others. With any type of gaming, consider the content of the game. Consider what you are doing in the game, how much time it is taking, how it is affecting you, your schooling, work, sleep, body and especially how it is affecting your spouse and marital relationship."

However, in marriages where only one partner is playing, the problems could be more severe than the study indicates, the researchers said. They noted that many dedicated gamers were not willing to participate in the study. 349 couples were surveyed, the average age of respondents was 33 years with 7 years of marriage. Of those couples in which only one spouse gamed, 84 percent of the players were husbands. Of those couples where both gamed, 73 percent of those who gamed more were husbands.

"This study really does verify that gaming has an effect on marital satisfaction," Lundberg said. "It's not just a random occurrence that a few couples are dealing with. Based on the large number of married gamers, 36 percent of multi-player online role-playing gamers report being married, we can assume this is a widespread issue."