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Online Medieval Fantasy Games -- Threat to Marital Bliss?
Date:2/16/2012

By Kathleen Doheny
HealthDay Reporter

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 University.

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 didn't.

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 sa
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