Natalie Haynes: When Xboxes are grounds for divorce

The thing is...
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The Independent Online

The thing is, video-game widows are on the increase and will soon outnumber golf widows. And, let's be honest, the video-game ones will have better weapons and extra lives, so they'll beat the golf ones, hands down. Unless they have lost their husbands to Wii golf, obviously. That's particularly upsetting: not only does your husband think of nothing but golf, he doesn't even go out to play it, and periodically knocks stuff over in your living room.

Of wives who cited unreasonable behaviour as the cause of their marriage breakdown this year, a hefty 15 per cent of them considered video games to be the problem. Yet how many men turn to gaming once they're married? Surely most began gaming as children, and simply never gave it up. I did much the same with knitting, actually: don't write it off, boys. It's like gaming – you need to acquire repetitive skills and problem-solving abilities. But at the end of it, you get a jumper.

So it always seems unreasonable to me to complain that the person you married is pretty much exactly like the person you met and fell in love with. If someone suddenly turns to drink, gambling, or LA Noire after marriage, then it's fair enough to be cross. But if they were always a gamer, shouldn't you have thought that they might one day come to prefer Assassin's Creed Brotherhood to you? Gaming can be an addiction, according to experts, with some claiming that World of Warcraft is more addictive than cocaine. Which it may well be, but on the plus side, there are no mass graves in Mexico caused by rival gangs dressing as wizards.

Mark Keenan, whose company did this research, wondered if the increase in addictive gaming might be due to people staying indoors because of the recession. I suppose it's possible, though outside is cheaper than you'd think. Especially if you go for a walk in it. But his second suggestion was more plausible: that men use gaming as an escape mechanism from an already unhappy relationship. No kidding: when someone spends eight hours a day pretending to be someone they aren't, I think we can assume they're not happy in their real lives.

So why not cheer them up a little? In other words, if you want to avoid the divorce lawyers, don't hassle your chap to put the Xbox away. Put your best warrior-chick outfit on, and join him. Fight a dragon, save a marriage.