That study conducted by Divorce Online suggested that 15 percent of divorces filed with the company are a result of video game addiction – usually World of Warcraft or Call of Duty. But a deeper look at the methodology, the actual numbers, and what is required to file a divorce in the UK paints a slightly different picture.
According to an analysis by Eurogamer, of the 2941 divorce petitions handled by Divorce Online in the period of the study, 1176 were filed based on "unreasonable behaviour." Divorce Online randomly selected 200 petitions that were then filtered using the keywords ‘video game.’ That search turned up around 30 filings.
But after speaking with Divorce Online’s managing director Mark Keenan, a divorce filing requires three or four reasons to make it through the process.
While 30 of those 200 petitions selected at random cited video game addiction as a core cause for filing, Eurogamer also found that other factors such as a "lack of love and affection, an inability to deal with debts, alcohol and drug problems, and a lack of common interests" as popular choices.
The report also suggests that Divorce Online solicited stories for its press release for money; on May 17 the company posted an appeal offering £250 for stories used in the press. The company said that it needed real world case studies from its customers. One such case study came from 20-something London resident Jessica Ellis.
Jessica cleared up some of the confusion about her comments in the press release, saying that her husband moved away from South Africa to live with her in London. When that happened he spent more time online playing games such as World of Warcraft. What the press release – or Jessica – omitted was the fact that her husband had no family in the UK and was playing various games with his friends and family in South Africa.
While Eurogamer’s report doesn’t discredit Divorce Online’s assertions about gaming and game addiction, it does add some additional layers of context that put less of an emphasis on gaming and more of a focus on how a multitude of factors can ruin a marriage.