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Obsessive involvement in online gaming can lead to divorce

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Many digital worlds are designed to be a perfect experience. They offer users beautiful scenery or hyper-realistic graphics. People can also engage in activities and behaviors they would never dream of in the real world. From flying to fighting martial arts masters, video games can make the impossible a reality.

For some people, unfortunately, the draw of the artificial world of video games can prove far too powerful for their own good. Some people become addicted to video games, which can lead to them neglecting more important, real-world relationships.

Spouses who feel replaced by digital media may eventually consider a divorce. Some people even go so far as to cite addiction to a specific game in their divorce filings.

Why are video games addictive?

Different video games affect the mind differently, but most of them depend on the brain's system for short-term rewards. Specifically, by setting up a series of small tasks for you or your character to complete, video game programmers create a system in which you receive a physiological reward intended for achieving something when you actually do very little.

Your body may dose you with a nice surge of dopamine or similar feel-good chemicals when a game notifies you that you have successfully completed a challenge or quest. People may have an even more powerful surge when they successfully complete a game or a major cooperative event. Players begin to submerge themselves in the game, seeking mastery and a sense of accomplishment from digital fun.

All of the positive, feel-good feedback from video games can make the real world seem dull and unrewarding by comparison. People begin to replace the sense of belonging and pride they got from family relationships or work with digital achievements and an anonymous network of people who play the same game. Family members will obviously feel the pain of a digital replacement for human interactions.

Video game addiction can indicate a disparity in priorities

While it is true that addiction to video games may have a biological or chemical root in brains' responses to playing, it doesn't mean people have an excuse to focus on digital entertainment instead of the people in their lives.

Some people may respond to addiction therapy to curb their compulsive gaming, while others may fight back against the idea that they have an addiction to deal with. When one spouse starts putting video game success or pleasure ahead of work, household chores, parenting or marriage maintenance, it is possible for the other spouse to decide that maintaining the marriage is no longer worth the effort.

As video games become more immersive and popular, the trend of people filing divorce because of video game addictions will likely only increase. Spouses considering divorce because of addictive gaming should know they are not alone.

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