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Online gaming is bad for relationships

Online role playing games can negatively affect real-life marital satisfaction, according to a Brigham Young University study.

The researchers, led by graduate student Michelle Ahlstrom and recreation management professor Neil Lundberg, studied 349 couples to learn how online role-playing games such as World of Warcraft affect marital satisfaction for both gamers and their spouses.

The study found that 75% of spouses of sword-carrying, avatar-loving gamers wish they would put less effort into their guilds and more effort into their marriage.

According to the study, it’s not the time spent playing games that caused dissatisfaction, but rather the resulting arguments or disrupted bedtime routines. These issues can cause problems such as poorer marital adjustment, less time spent together in shared activities and less serious conversation.

However, the study also found that for couples in which both spouses play, 76% said that gaming has a positive effect on their marital relationship. Interestingly, for those who do game together, interacting with each other’s avatars--their online persona—leads to higher marital satisfaction. However, both must be satisfied with their mutual participation, especially the individual who plays less.

“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% of multi-player online role-playing gamers report being married-- we can assume this is a widespread issue.”

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