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Are Online Games Destroying Our Marriages/Relationships?

Updated on January 1, 2016
Original Everquest Icon.  This screenshot was well-known when players logged on to play.  It stayed online for several years.
Original Everquest Icon. This screenshot was well-known when players logged on to play. It stayed online for several years.
Online games can hurt everyone, even innocent children.
Online games can hurt everyone, even innocent children.
Everquest - the longest running online RPG game ever.  It is still going strong and just celebrated its 12th anniversary in April 2011.
Everquest - the longest running online RPG game ever. It is still going strong and just celebrated its 12th anniversary in April 2011.
A group of players joining forces to attack a common foe - Rancor.
A group of players joining forces to attack a common foe - Rancor.
An encounter with some huge foes!
An encounter with some huge foes!
A large force of people can form a club online, called a guild, where up to 54 players can join forces to attack really tough opponents!
A large force of people can form a club online, called a guild, where up to 54 players can join forces to attack really tough opponents!

I debated awhile about publishing this hub, but I feel it is necessary. The divorce rate in this country alone is out of control! The ease in which anyone can dissolve a marriage is shocking. Divorce is just one of the problems, separation and infidelity are also added to the mix. There are many causes for a relationship to end, but I am going to address just this one....online gaming. The reason I address this one specifically is that I was 'hooked' or addicted to these kinds of games in the past.

Most of these games attract young people, but that is not always the case. The complexity of today's games are attracting people of all ages. While it is true these games are fun to play, they are also extremely addictive and once involved, it is not easy to stop. The sheer number of these online games is overwhelming. Games like World of Warcraft, Ultima Online, and one of the most popular, Everquest. These are fantasy role playing games where you create a character, like a warrior, healer, magician, etc. and as you explore the world you are in, you gain powers and items that make you stronger, thus being capable of going after stronger foes.

One of the lures of these game is that you play with other people when you go online. All you do is look for a group that needs your character's unique abilities and skills, and off you go. The social interaction is appealing and even real friendships can develop from playing. I am not going into the bad things these games can cause to a player personally, like withdrawing from the real world, being obsessed with the game, playing the game and not doing other things you used to enjoy, spending hours and even DAYS playing without stopping, getting little sleep, and even losing your job!

These problems are real and studies have proven just how harmful these games can be. Since I played Everquest off and on for a substantial amount of time, I am going to focus on this game.

Everquest (EQ) is one of the longest running RPG (Role Playing Games) ever. In April 2011, EQ celebrated its 12th anniversary...that's right, it has been online for over 12 years! Starting out in 1999, by a company called Verant, it has grown to a community of unknown numbers worldwide! The game itself has really grown in size also...beginning with just a few continents and growing to monstrous proportions...other dimension and plains, going back in time, etc. Verant eventually sold the game to Sony Online Entertainment (SOE) which has controlled it ever since. EQ has had 16 expansions, I believe, increasing the size of the cyberspace world, attracting more and more players. The entertainment is relatively cheap. One account, with up to 8 characters ( or more you can buy from the online marketplace), you can create, only costs about $15 a month. Some people I personally know have had 10 or more accounts! So, each month they are spending over $100 a month to play! This is how powerful this game's attraction is. The original EQ became so popular, that (SOE) came out with a sequel: Everquest II several years ago.

Even though this game is very well done, it has caused many disasters in peoples' lives. Most of the people who play this game are male, but there are a good number of female players too. But, the ratio of male to female is enormous...men outnumbering women by a huge margin.


An image from the Everquest Widows website...a community of wives dealing with addicted spouses.  (Notice the game's name has been altered.)
An image from the Everquest Widows website...a community of wives dealing with addicted spouses. (Notice the game's name has been altered.)

The Destruction of Relationships is Real

These computer games have been ruining relationship for many years. Marriages have been ruined since one spouse is almost exclusively focusing on the game, and ignoring or withdrawing from their families. Some are so 'captured' by the game, that their health is suffering. Some even wear adult diapers so they don't have to leave the game for a few minutes to go to the bathroom. Eating habits are affected, some not eating or eating too much! It is a real problem and getting worse as more companies see the 'cash cow' these game are creating.

There is a website created by the wives of EQ players that has been online for years. I personally have not been to this site, but have heard it discussed online in the game when I was playing! It began as Wives Against EQ, but believe the name was changed to Everquest Widows. Many of these women are on the verge of divorce or already are divorced or separated. Entire families are being destroyed by these games. Online games are as addictive and as serious as gambling, drinking, drugs, etc.

A guild assembles to take out a nasty dragon.
A guild assembles to take out a nasty dragon.
Magical character attacking an enemy.
Magical character attacking an enemy.

My Experiences with Everquest

Since I have played Everquest, it would be appropriate to relate my experiences with the game. I joined the Everquest community just after it was released in 1999. I have always liked the fantasy genre, played Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (AD&D) when in college, and truly liked reading books like The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, The Sword of Shannara and countless others. Seeing movies like Conan, the Barbarian, Merlin, etc., also were to my liking. Back when AD&D began, in the mid 1970s, there weren't computer games like EQ...nothing even close! That AD&D game really opened the door to what was to follow when the computer technology took off. Companies jumped at the chance to cash in on the multitudes of people that liked the fantasy genre.

When I began playing EQ, I got sucked in like almost everyone else. I was not married, so this was a way to have fun and not spend a ton of money. But, as time went on, I got drawn into the game more and more. When the expansions came out, I bought them as soon as I could.

I did enjoy the game, I don't deny that, and still play occasionally.   There was so much to do, not just going out and clobbering monsters, collecting treasure and progressing my character. This game's developers incorporated trade skills, like blacksmithing, tailoring, alchemy, and baking. Characters could learn these trades and actually make armor, food, magical items that they or others could use! The entire game was very complex and the learning curve was pretty long.  It even had a monetary system that was complex and useful.

I enjoyed the social aspects and think this is the one HUGE draw to the game. Meeting real folks online and joining them in adventures, quests, and just causing havoc in the world was so much fun. It eased the loneliness and know many of the people that play are single. Every year there is a convention held, called Fan Faire...believe it is in Las Vegas.  As the game matured, the game attracted everyone, not just single males.  Even husband/wife/kids teams began to appear and the trouble really began.  Whole families were spending a lot to play...getting extra computer systems, more accounts, etc.

I am fortunate that when I was playing this game, I didn't ruin any relationship or marriage. But I easily could have! I played this game very much, but thankfully I learned how harmful this game could be and took steps to protect myself. I admit that I sitll play this game as I stated earlier...I have invested a lot of time, literally years developing my characters,  and still like to take my high level 'toon' and test them against stronger and stronger foes. I am not addicted to EQ, but I was at one time. It wasn't easy, but I was disciplined enough to realize what was happening and began to spend less and less time playing. It can be done, but the more addicted you are, as with any other addiction, the harder and longer it will take.

I am not knocking the online game industry. It does provide a lot of enjoyment for people and is good for the economy. I like to play computer games, both online and offline.  But, people have to be extremely careful and not let EQ or any other computer game take control of their lives. Teens and young people seem to be more vulnerable to these games, but it can get anyone.


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    • profile image

      Ghost32 6 years ago

      Fascinating.

      I've not played any of these interactive games (other than online checkers, which is to-the-max simple and straightforward), and STILL I manage to generate six-countem-six divorces! Imagine what I might have accomplished with EverQuest! LOL!

      However, Pam and I do know (or at least did; no contact for the past 12 years) one person--a married woman--whose addiction to...don't recall the name, but definitely a medieval online world of some sort....

      Anyway, her addiction was definitely destructive. Her husband played, too, but his self-discipline was obvious. The wife...another matter entirely.

      It was not likely to destroy their marriage, though. Her man was as loyal as they come, even when carrying the WHOLE load for the family.

      The first thing I noticed was the first screen shot. She's a hottie! I could go for that!

      Yeah, I see the problem here....:)

    • Knightheart profile image
      Author

      Knightheart 6 years ago from MIssouri, USA

      Hiya Ghost...nice to see you again. As for the graphics in this game and many others (Tomb Raider) for example, sure cater to the male species. All the women in EQ are attractive...slim and large breasted. No wonder this game attracts so many teens and more! Lara Croft in Tomb Raider is the same...very slim and shapely, and has humongous breasts! Big selling point for these games.

      By the way, that opening photo is of a high-elf mage..a very common choice in the game.

      As for your divorces, EQ could have helped you beat Liz Taylor's record! ROFL.

      There are so many of these games that I lost track, but EQ and Ultima Online were the most popular. People even sell their accounts for thousands of dollars when they leave. They spent years developing these characters and when people come back to the game, they don't want to start over since it takes so long, so they just go to a place like playerauctions.com and buy someone's account.

      Not everyone that plays gets addicted, thank God, but many do which really hurts our society.

      Thanks for stopping by!

    • Dave Mathews profile image

      Dave Mathews 6 years ago from NORTH YORK,ONTARIO,CANADA

      Knightheart: For a couple of months I got hooked on online poker. It never cost me anything financially but timewise away from my wife I lost hours at a time everyday. I used it as a distraction but it became an addiction.

    • Knightheart profile image
      Author

      Knightheart 6 years ago from MIssouri, USA

      Brother Dave: I have heard of online poker becoming very addictive just like Everquest and other games. I am pleased it never hurt your family financially, but can certainly understand how it probably affected your wife. Using these games as a distraction or to take your mind of of unpleasant circumstances makes it easy to fall into the trap and become addiction.

      I pray this addiction has been replaced by another addiction...following Jesus! I believe it has and I am sure God is pleased with you, his mighty servant!

      God Bless you, my friend!

    • Wealthmadehealthy profile image

      Wealthmadehealthy 6 years ago from Somewhere in the Lone Star State

      I actually owned until recently; the first EQ to come out so long ago. I purchased it for home play, but discovered very quick after you reach a certain point in it, you have to pay to play. Now, this is not what I had intended to do with any game, once you buy a disc, you should be able to play when you want.

      I did quickly understand, that not only having to pay to play was going to drain my pocketbook, but realized something else it did. It took me away from my Bible study time. This game was and is a direct affront to the people who claim to be Christian, as it contains all things spoken against in the Bible. Witchcraft, seers, magical charms, etc. And this in addition to wrecking time with real people is not a good thing.

      Anything which takes you away from the Word and violates in any manner what IS WRITTEN is not for me. I recently found the disc while going through some things and do you know what I did with it?? A classic game disc...no I did not put it on Ebay to sell...It would have gained me a lot of money for an original...I destroyed it. As it would have destroyed my life had I decided to become embroiled in it.

      I have discovered one thing in my years here...when I am lonely, or feel depressed, the only thing which is able to soothe me is my Bible. Only the Word will carry me through....it is too sad that so many are as weak as they are to let themselves be drawn into this madness at any level. I hope people learn a bit from this hub ....but I would have better hope that a camel could get through the eye of a needle ....Thanks for writing this Knightheart.

    • Knightheart profile image
      Author

      Knightheart 6 years ago from MIssouri, USA

      Thanks for coming by and leaving your thoughts on this. I have the original CDs too, but most of the expansions were downloaded from the SOE website. I know I was weak many years ago...before finding Jesus Christ. As you certainly know, we aren't perfect, at least not yet! LOL I play very rarely and have even done a little 'Bible thumping' there much to the hostility of most, but not all that play.

    • Wealthmadehealthy profile image

      Wealthmadehealthy 6 years ago from Somewhere in the Lone Star State

      The sad thing is, is it is like every other addiction. People do not want to admit their problem and then try to blame other people instead of themselves when it all blows up in their face. Me, I am an online junkie. Look at me, it is almost 1100 pm and I am still online reading hubs. The sad thing is, I know my dogs suffer when I stay online too long. So it is not just people, I should play more with my dogs. but what do I do,,,,ROFL major geek action...need to change that ...LOL Where are all the real live human beings???

    • Knightheart profile image
      Author

      Knightheart 6 years ago from MIssouri, USA

      I am alive, I think! LOL I have been online all afternoon, writing hubs, as you probably have seen already. Have several more on the Book of Revelation...still have to do the Seal and Trumpet Judgments, the Battle of Armegeddon and Jesus' victory,..oh so much. Now I can imagine what John went through writing all this down on Patmos when God revealed it to him. I probably would have been insane just for experiencing this blessing God gave John!

      I am tired and think I am going to call it a day. Unless Jesus comes tonight, I will be at it again tomorrow, hopefully completing the Seal and Trumpet Judgments. So much work, but what a blessing it is to following His commands and doing His Will.

      Goodnight Sister!

    • Amanda Storm profile image

      Amanda Storm 5 years ago

      Interesting article. I like MMO's myself and play them moderately, mostly a few hours a week. I am glad to read you didn't destroy your life with MMO's and I believe there are people who shouldn't be playing these games, just as I believe there are people who shouldn't be social drinkers because they can't handle alcohol.

      One of my husband's friends plays WoW and my husband went over to his house after we moved back into the area and he hadn't seen his friend in some years. My husband told me that for four hours literally the only thing the guy was willing to talk about was World of Warcraft. Not surprisingly, my husband reports he won't be going back over to the guy's house anytime soon.

    • Knightheart profile image
      Author

      Knightheart 5 years ago from MIssouri, USA

      Hi Amanda,

      Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment. When I first started playing Everquest, I was hooked and played for hours straight, even not sleeping at times. I was pretty addicted to the game, but I finally grew tired of playing so much and moved on. Everquest is the longest running online game ever, so far...just celebrated 14 years I think it is. I know they are coming or just came out with another expansion pack, which of course, will keep it going for another year or so.

      Adults fall prey to this game too, but mostly these games are tailored to the teens and early 20's crowd. People over 40 aren't as involved, but there are still thousands that play regularly...makes you wonder how many of the younger groups are involved heavily. Must be really staggering since Sony, the makers of Everquest have make millions and millions off this one game alone, and know they have many other similar online games running.

      What is sad is that real relationships suffer and innocent people get hurt. But the almighty buck will keep these games going, just as Facebook and Twitter have their own cult followings. Just another addictive computer age menace. I do have a Facebook account, but rarely go there. Isn't interesting at all to me.

      Take care and thanks for leaving a comment.

      KH

    • Knightheart profile image
      Author

      Knightheart 4 years ago from MIssouri, USA

      Brian,

      Somehow I missed this comment and am sorry to hear of your loss! Although rare, more woman are falling into the same snare. Even though I have never played WoW, I know of it and how addictive it is. Everquest is just about to celebrate another anniversary in April...so, think it will be a total of 15 years...think that is a record for any online game. I know a new expansion that allows you to go to level 100 came out in the fall of 2012. How long with this game go on? Anyway, I wish I could help you, but unless you want to risk open hostility, deleting the account would be the only option.

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