With every new day comes a new excuse for nasty people to crucify video games. This time it's a study by researchers at Brigham Young University, as reported by U.S. News in a story today titled "Spouses Being Pushed Aside For Video Games" that claims gaming is ruining marriages.
The study surveys 349 couples, each of which has at least one spouse who plays a massively multiplayer online role-playing game like World of Warcraft or Eve Online. Sixty-five per cent of the respondents said they "fight with their husband or wife about gaming," while 75 per cent say MMOs have "negatively affected their marriage."
As US News writes:
The results confirmed what Neil Lundberg, one of the study's authors, already suspected: "Gaming widows," spouses who lose the attention of their significant other to gaming, aren't happy with their marriages.
Even ignoring the absurdity and sexist implications of the term "gaming widows", this is profoundly dumb. Correlation does not equal causation. Blaming the unhappiness in your marriage on video games is as silly as, well, blaming violence on video games.
Any happy couple will tell you that successful relationships are built on compromises, and if one member of that relationship can't figure out how to balance his or her hobbies, that relationship is not going to work. Whether your vice of choice is World of Warcraft, fantasy football, or knitting, if you fall too deep into the rabbit hole of obsession, your personal life is going to suffer. Blame the person, not the game.
Buried later in the article is a less juicy morsel from the study, one that U.S. News must have not thought was spicy enough for its headline:
On the other hand, it seems like couples who play together, stay together: 74 per cent of couples who played MMORPGs together reported gaming as having a positive effect on their marriage.
"The take-home message is that doing things together, whether you're video gaming or doing something else, is better than doing something apart," Lundberg says. "This confirms the idea that doing things that create interaction and bonding is obviously going to strengthen a marriage."
In other words, play video games with your significant other. Happy Valentine's Day!