At least 200 couples in the United Kingdom filed for divorce in 2018 while citing addiction to online survival game "Fortnite" and other online games as one of the reasons for their parting of ways.
That's according to Divorce Online, a U.K. company that offers divorce services and resources.
There are more than 125 million registered "Fortnite" players around the world and the game has pulled in over $1 billion in revenue since launching in 2017, according to game developer Epic Games. But apparently there's a growing number of people who may wish they'd spent a little bit less time playing.
A recent blog post on Divorce Online's site notes that the company decided to compile all of the divorce petitions that mentioned addiction to "Fortnite" and other online games after noticing an uptick in the number of couples who cited the game when inquiring about divorce services.
The 200 U.K. couples who cited "Fortnite" and other online games when they filed divorce petitions with Divorce Online still only represented a small fraction of the total number of divorce proceedings this year, the company said. "These numbers equate to roughly 5% of the 4,665 petitions we have handled since the beginning of the year and as one of the largest filers of divorce petitions in the UK, is a pretty good indicator," a spokesperson for Divorce Online wrote in a statement.
The spokesperson also wrote that "addiction to drugs, alcohol and gambling have often been cited as reasons for relationship breakdowns but the dawn of the digital revolution has introduced new addictions."
That's true. In June, the World Health Organization officially recognized "gaming disorder" as a mental health condition afflicting gamers who are lacking in control over their own gaming habits for periods of months at a time. In these cases, the WHO says, there is "increasing priority given to gaming over other activities to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other interests and daily activities, and continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences."
The disorder can have negative effects on a person's relationships and career, the WHO adds.
Roughly one-third of "Fortnite" players average between six and 10 hours of playing the game per week, according to an August survey from financial education site LendEDU. That's about average for video games overall (6.5 hours per week, according to another survey), but more than 38 percent of respondents told LendEDU that they play "Fortnite" more than 11 hours per week.
If such a large chunk of "Fortnite" players are playing the game more than the average video game, then perhaps it makes sense that it could become an issue for some couples. A 2013 Brigham Young University study found that 72 percent of non-gaming spouses felt their spouse's gaming had a negative effect on their relationship.
Objections aside, "Fortnite" doesn't seem likely to lose its popularity anytime soon — especially with roughly 40 million players logging on to play the game each month at a time when Epic Games has pledged to give away $100 million in total prizes at "Fortnite" competitions over the next year.
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