By Lydia Warren
A growing number of marriages are being wrecked by video game addiction.
More women filing for divorce are complaining that their husbands spend too long playing video games, according to research.
Of those wives who cite unreasonable behaviour for ending their marriage, 15 per cent believe their partners put gaming before them.
This has soared from five per cent a year ago, the study by Divorce Online found.
In particular, disgruntled wives blamed World of Warcraft, which allows gamers to create their own fantasy character for mythical adventures, and Call Of Duty, where gamers battle in various war zones.
The games have faced heavy criticism in the past for their addictive properties, with some claiming that World of Warcraft is more addictive than cocaine.
One wife who blames her husband’s obsession for the breakdown of their marriage is Jessica Ellis, 24, from London.
She said: ‘He was addicted to World of Warcraft but played other games now and then. The amount he was playing gradually increased until I could not take it any more.
‘When it became serious he was playing up to eight hours a day. I was constantly trying to get him to cut back but he didn’t think he had a problem until I told him I wanted to leave. But by that time it was too late.’
Ryan G Van Cleave, an expert on video game addiction, said many partners were unaware that gaming can become an addiction.
He said: ‘The problem spouses encounter with video game addiction is that the non-gamer doesn’t appreciate that it’s an addiction. This means it’s not a choice to spend so much time in a virtual environment versus time with the spouse and family. It’s a compulsion.
‘The reality is that with the proper professional support, a video game addict, like any other type of addict, can overcome the addiction.’
The study looked at 200 unreasonable behaviour petitions filed by women.
Divorce Online managing director Mark Keenan said his team carried out the research after noticing World of Warcraft was repeatedly cited by unhappy wives.
He said: ‘I was surprised by the result at first, but I would expect the number to be even higher next year.
‘The increase could be a consequence of people staying indoors more because of the recession, or it might be being used by men in particular as a means of escape from an already unhappy relationship.’