MMORPGs can affect marital happiness - Study

Brigham Young University study shows 76 percent of respondents who play MMORPGs with their spouse reported positive effect on marriage.

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A study from Brigham Young University (BYU) has revealed online role-playing games like World of Warcraft both negatively and positively impact marital satisfaction.

The study looked at 349 heterosexual couples, dividing the respondents into two groups: one in which both spouses gamed, and the other in which only one spouse gamed.

World of Warcraft: keeping couples together or breaking them apart?
World of Warcraft: keeping couples together or breaking them apart?

For couples in which both spouses play, the study found 76 percent said that gaming had a positive effect on their marital relationship, particularly couples who interacted in-game.

The average age of the respondents in the nationwide survey was 33 years, while the average marriage length was seven years. Of those couples in which only one spouse gamed, 84 percent were the husbands; of those couples where both gamed, 73 percent of those who gamed more were husbands.

"It's common knowledge that many couples experience challenges around gaming," re-creation management professor at BYU Neil Lundberg said. "Particularly when husbands are heavy gamers, it clearly has a negative impact on their marriages."

In the group where only one spouse gamed, 75 percent of couples said gaming had hurt their marriage, particularly in the disruption of bedtime routines. The study reports these couples struggled with issues such as less time spent together in shared activities and less serious conversation.

Interestingly, similar issues were reported in the gaming couples. Of the couples in the group who reported low marital satisfaction, arguments centered on gaming and the interruption of bedtime rituals.

"It's not the [gaming] hours that make a difference," Lundberg said. "It's really what it does to the relationship--whether or not it creates conflict and quarrelling over the game."

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