Warcraft Destroys Marriages


A 28 year-old woman known as Jocelyn (who briefly worked for Blizzard) has divorced her husband of six years after he became so obsessed with World of Warcraft that he ignored her and caused her marriage to crumble.

"He would get home from work at 6:00, start playing at 6:30, and he'd play until three a.m. Weekends were worse -- it was from morning straight through until the middle of the night," said Jocelyn. "It took away all of our time that we spent together. I ceased to exist in his life."

Jocelyn bought the game for her husband in Christmas of 2004, and by May the game had disrupted their relationship. That September she moved out after he stopped paying bills and doing housework, and ignored her.

"I had set aside 30 minutes for us to watch a television show together, and he couldn't," said Jocelyn. "He was stuck on a raid, and completely failed to understand why I was upset."

"I'm real, and you're giving me up for a fantasy land," she said. "You're destroying your life, your six-year marriage, and you're giving it up for something that isn't even real."

Jocelyn, who briefly worked for Blizzard, added "They build it in such a way that you have to keep putting more and more time into it to maintain your status. I remember thinking when I was married that it was downright exploitative to people who couldn't control themselves in that way. It's set up like a drug."

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I designed this t-shirt not so long ago after hearing about WOW addiction ruining relationships.

Do you have any experience with WOW or addiction to other online games causing relationship problems? Chime in below!

I always chime in first, but I guess that's just part of being a college student (no kids, hehe).

Anyway, my mom actually works as a teacher assistant, helping out a lot of kids with poor or dysfunctional families. I remember her telling me one time of one such kid, who was going through 4th grade for the 3rd time. He told her that his parents spend all day playing warcraft on the computer, and barely pay any attention to their kids at all. They get mad at him if he interrupts their play, they take it out on their kids when they're stupid enough to kill of their characters, etc. And this isn't just some sob story told by a creative kid with a need for attention. He has barely any clothing - and it's always dirty cause his mother never washes it. Heck, he was given a coat by his teacher. A couple days later, it was dirty, and has remained so ever since. I understand the whole thing about people doing this to themselves, that you can't blame the game, but that's bull crap when it gets this bad. It's like saying crack is only addictive when you let it be. This stuff is meant to be addictive, it's meant to use up all your time, to suck your money right out of your pocket, what with expansions, and little extras you can buy. It's pathetic, and it's disgusting. I'm all for entertainment, especially roleplaying. But my roleplaying ends, eventually, my roleplaying doesn't dominate my life and keep me from living. This stuff does.

I'll have to disagree, here. Granted, people do get addicted, and they certainly shouldn't, but I would have to say that people who allow a video game to ruin marriages didn't have their priorities straight in the first place. The WoW addiction is not the problem, its a symptom of an already screwed-up life. These people are the same type of people who commit suicide because their Vampire LARP character is killed, or that log thousands of hours into beating Final Fantasy VII while adhering to the Solo Character, Initial Equipment, No Materia, No Accessories, No Escape guildeline. (see http://www.gamefaqs.com/console/psx/game/197341.html for similarly ridiculous "challenges"). These games are not meant to be played in this way, but people take them to extremes. These particular instances of "Warcraft runied my life" are just more apparent than obessive behavior linked to other forms of entertainment because WoW is a lot more accessible and legal than, say, heroine.

I also have a hard time with the idea that Blizzard builds WoW to be addictive. I could see them making it enjoyable, but addictive? Blizzard gets paid the flat rate for unlimited usage per month, which means that a casual player spends just as much in dollars as the hardcore, 20+ hours a week player. I don't see a true benefit to creating a game that's designed speciically to make people spend that much time on it. Any product that is designed to be so addictive that its consumer loses their job is a poorly designed product (it's hard to get paid if your primary consumers are deadbeats).

Also, interestingly enough, one of the stated design goals for the most recent expansion was to make the game more accessible to casual players, evidenced in the fact that in a recent patch, experience point rewards for low-level quests have been doubled. If Blizzard was intending this to be a crack-inspired video game, they would make it harder to reach the endgame, not easier.

I do have some examples. I picked up WoW shortly after its original release, and played it for just under a year before dropping it because I wasn't getting enough enjoyment to warrant paying $15 a month. I've recently picked it back up, (now that my paycheck can support that), again playing casually, and I haven't found it at all addictive.

Similarly, I have a friend who was a hardcore WoW player, became "rogue leader" (a title that always makes me smile, if only because of the Star Wars geek in me) for his guild, and was for a long time ranked as #7 in worldwide, cross-server PvP. He decided it wasn't worth the time, and now he only gets on occasionally to mess around in PvP arenas. In fact, the only reason he's still registered is because one of his former guildmates won the lottery, and is currently paying for his account. I know it sounds like I'm making this whole thing up, but I swear by it.

These aren't the actions of addicts. Lots of people have problems fitting into mainstream society, and the fact that they chose Warcraft over real life doesn't make Warcraft an evil game, it just makes them messed up people. Dungeons and Dragons had the same bad rap back in the 80's because a select few number of people took it to an obessive extreme.

Besides, it's a lot better to be addicted to WoW than to any street drug. Your fix only costs you $15 for unlimited usage for a month, it doesn't have any direct physical downsides, and pregnant mothers who use WoW won't screw up their baby's life until at least after birth. At least the addicts are interacting and befriending others who share their addiction. It's like heroine and Alcoholics Anonymous, all rolled into one tight little package ;)

You've got a good point, Lorthyne. As I said before, a big part of it is the people - you've gotta have the addictive personality. But there's no doubt in my mind that Warcraft and other games are made to be addictive. Every game out there is made to be addictive. It's not that they think it'll get them more money (once it's bought it's bought), but people that put so much into a product want people to enjoy it, to really spend time on it. I know I would if I spent so much time creating a world like that. I'd wanna make a world where the people in it are constantly thinking about it, constantly wanting to play it. Even D&D and a lot of table-top rpgs are built that way - you want people to enjoy and love your product, and that means making it almost addictive. It's no mistake that there's 80 billion options for your character, campaign, NPCs, setting, etc. It's meant to make you buy as much as possible, spend as much time as possible.

As for what you said concerning that recent expansion, it's easy to see how that can be seen as addictive. It's just like a crack dealer giving first-timers a premium on their goods - you get em hooked with the cheap stuff, then, when they need it, ramp up the price. That's not necessarily what Blizzard is doing here, but it's a tried and true marketing scheme. They get people quickly over the initial frustration of being a weak noob, so they can glory in their dreams of conquest and power. Games like warcraft, and most video games period, are made to make the gamer feel powerful, to make the gamer feel important. That's what makes them addictive. So here, Blizzard is just carrying it's people over the initial rough stages into the true fun.

Of course it's not as bad as heroin. But that's a poor comparison. Just cause something's not as bad as something else doesn't mean it should be ignored. It's like comparing Iraq to the Apocalypse and saying, because it's not the Apocalypse, we should ignore it. It's a problem and it's needs to be fixed. Frankly, however, you can't argue that Warcraft is keeping these people away from heroin, as they have the kind of personality that would keep them off the streets, anyway. It's a different kind of addiction - heroin makes you feel happy, as well as building a biological need, but WoW makes you feel powerful, important. They satisfy two different needs.

For instance, I have a good friend who is frankly, addicted to computers. He has the personality for it, this tendency to addiction (he's never had drugs as far as I can tell, but he's been addicted to a number of things), and this doesn't help. Last I heard, he spent all day long on WoW. When he wasn't working, he was on that. It's true that he would be spending his time on the computer anyway, but it doesn't help at all. It's made to be like this. It's made to trap people like this. All games are. When I'm in the middle of a good game, I feel a drive to play it and finish the story, like right now with Mass Effect. They're designed this way. There's no doubt about it.

I am a recovering WoW addict. It's not WoW, it's me. Mostly. I was only able to quit because of a computer malfunction that lasted long enough for me to regain some sanity and pul the plug.

I have the personality type for it. I'm the kind of person who will play Minesweeper (if nothing better is available) for hours on end to avoid the problems in my life. If it wasn't WoW it would be anime or alcohol or figurine painting or porn or Robert Jordan or drugs or any of the thousand things our civilization offers as an escape from the grind of our lives.

What makes MMO's particularly dangerous is that they never end. I played Neverwinter Nights for about forty-eight hours straight, but then I'd beaten the game with a couple of different reace/class combos with and without NPC help. I was done with it, and it could no longer exert a profound influence on me. WoW (and EverCrack before it) offer almost endless possibilities for exploration and conquest, and if you're anything less than the most hardcore player, you will not be finished with one expansion before they release the next. Like real RPGs, there is no way to 'win' - you can keep going forever. It provides a surrogate goup of players as obsessive as you are, so you're never hindered by others' schedules. It's a surrogate job, a surrogate peer group, a surrogate family - it fills most all the needs of real relationships, except you're also significantly cooler, richer, and improve in an explosion of golden light in quantifiable ways by solving tidy problems. It's better than life - who wouldn't get addicted to that?

WoW is also very shiny for some of us. I pine for it sometimes still.

I tend to dislike MMOs, not because of the content, but because of the players. I played WoW briefly on a private server and I liked it a lot. I tried WoW using a trial CD, and I absolutely hated it due to the idiocy of the general player base.

I have a tendency to get addicted to MUDs; one in particular. I try to limit myself on my involvement with it to a certain degree, just because I'm married and know that I would spend all of my time there if given the chance.

Well, good for you, foltor, for pulling the plug. I gotta say, there's a lot in me that tends to go hardcore on things, and that's why I'm staying as far away from WoW as I can. I go hardcore with games that end, with movies, books, traditional rpgs. The amount of time I spend on D&D alone is really bad, not to mention all my other distractions. So, I get where you're coming from foltor.

However, while you can blame a person's personality so much, you have to sling some blame at the game and those who made it. With any addictive thing, there has to be something addictive about it in the first place to get people addicted. Minesweeper is one thing, WoW is another. It's like comparing beef and crack. Yeah, you can have people who eat way too much stake. But it's not nearly as bad as the other. Well, that's my view, anyway.

Don't bash Minesweeper, man. That's my calm down game - it doesn't matter if you lose. ;)

I'm writing on this blog because I obviously cannot talk with my husband about his problem, he's far too busy on a raid. It has been 2 years now and I'm not going to live this way anymore. You guys can argue all you want on whether this game is actually addictive or is related to a personality flaw in the gamer, all I know is that it has definitly pushed my marriage into the "divorce zone". We have had our issues in our marriage and always have worked them out but, this is impossible to work out because it takes two people to work together to repair the relationship and there's only one person working on it and that would be me. I also think that it is a ton of Bull S**t to try and tell me to join him in his fantasy world to save my marriage because this sedantary lifestyle that he choses is nothing that interests me and would be completly unfair to our 5 year old daughter who deserves OUR attention. If you can't beat em, join em F**K U!!! I have moved out of the house four hundred miles away with his daughter for work and he couldn't care less, if this continues the move is going to be permenant. AND it is NOT selfish for women to want attention from their husbands, this is why we got married in the first place....to have someone to share our lives with...to have someone to keep us warm at night (nope on the computer til 4-7am)....go to the movies etc. THIS IS NOT TOO MUCH TO ASK FOR. It is really like not even being married anymore once your husband discovers WOW you might as well be single it wouldn't be any different except you might be able to get on the computer to check your email (That would be a nice change of pace).

Wow inre: WoW. I feel for you jen. No one gets married expecting to spend their time staring at the back of some automatons head while he conquers imaginary foes in an imaginary land. And expecting you to join him is ludicrous. If you have no interest in it then you have no interest in it. I won't comment on the wisdom (yours, his, or otherwise) of getting into a long term relationship with someone that doesn't share your interests. That's not my place.

It's still not fair to blame the game though. There are plenty of people that play WoW that aren't morons, addicts, or trolls. People have been together for years and then one of them dicovers something like crack, meth, WoW, whiskey, strippers...whatever. it still their fault for not being able to govern their habit with moderation. You can't blame inanimate objects for the actions of supposedly intelligent free-thinking individuals. only the individuals can be held accountable.

So perhaps it's more accurate not to say "WoW destroyed my marriage", but rather, "my lame ass husband destroyed our marriage".

I still think it's a combination, Scott. I mean, the personality is definitely to blame, but so is the material. There is no doubt that WoW is made to be addictive man. And as for moderating a crack habit, that is not something you wanna try. WoW is not nearly as addictive as crack (we hope...) but it still is habit forming, and is still a part of an artificial high that you can't create yourself, so you find something to replace it. Even a personality not naturally "addictive" can still be addicted. The process is devastatingly simple, and has ruined many a family. It's the nature of our consumer society, and I think that it really has a greater affect on us than we think or allow ourselves to think. Consider the amount of money that you spend on things you don't need. I mean, for me, I can seriously say that I spend way too much money on movies. I love stories and therefore love movies. However, I don't have the kind of money to throw around, yet I still do. I just can't stop buying them. I go to the movie store planning on buying one, maybe two movies and end up purchasing around $200 in various movies, a good chunk of which I haven't seen before. There's my first rule, broken. Now that's ok right now as I'm not paying for my food, but in less than a month, when I will be, I absolutely can't do that. Will I be able to stop? I think so. I guess I'll get back to you guys on it.

The point is this stuff has a lot more to it than "addictive personalities." Jen's lame-ass husband definitely destroyed their marriage, but WoW gave him the tools to do it with. Why is it that when a heroin junkie steals his mothers most valuable possessions and sells them that we blame it primarily on the drug, but when an obsessive WoW players ruins his marriage and similarly alienates those close to him, we blame it primarily on him? I think there's no doubt that both are in the wrong and should shoulder some of the blame, but the addictive substance also needs to be held accountable for the change it wrought in these people.

I'm sorry for you, Jen, and especially for your daughter. I hope he comes around, but wish the best for you either way. I don't know how one could abandon your own children, but I guess it's more common than I'd like to believe.

Personally, I blame the person in both situations you describe (WoW or crack). Products are made to be habit forming. It's what they do. It's how we react to them that matters. As soon as we as humans stop taking responsibility for our own actions (or addictions) we've lost the plot completely. And to pin the blame on nonthinking products (be they chemical, digital, or esoteric) is to remove it from ourselves. It's precisely this line of reasoning that leads to frivolous lawsuits, impulse shopping, and wars over oil in foreign countries (or wars over gods in foreign lands in ages past for that matter)

Your logic on the topic, as always, is near flawless. To take your logic and rationale one step further though...Jim Beam and Henry Ford are just as responsible for carelss driving as the driver himself, Charlton heston is responsible for gang violence, and D&D makes you kill your neighbors and worship Satan because now you're a high enough level that you can *cast the real spells*. MWAHAHAhahahHAHA. Take that, Black Leaf!

And take that, logic.

Charlton Heston? I get Ford, but Charlton Heston? I must be missing something. Maybe a movie he didn't play Moses in...

Thank for that comment on my logic. I'd never consider it near flawless but it's nice for someone else to say. I get to feel smart every now and then lol.

Like I said, I think both are to blame. Things have not always been made to be "addictive" - only recently in human history, actually about 1700s onwards in most industrialized countries. Before then you just got what your father had and didn't worry about it. It's only recently that the phenomenon known as consumerism has appeared or at the very least taken a significant presence. Things are made to be addictive now and they didn't use to be. Is that ok? Just because it's been that way all my life doesn't make it right. There's no doubt that as a crack addict you have to have tried the drug and kept on pursuing it, and in that the fault is his. But the drug is addictive and that should be remembered and addressed.

As for Ford, yes he is indirectly responsible. No doubt he is not directly responsible for people misusing his product, but he did make it and is therefore indirectly responsible, though that responsibility is minimal. However, it's difficult to compare "misusing" a car with a crack addiction. After all, that's what crack is for. It's well understood that it's there to get high off of and will lead to addiction. The car isn't bought and sold under the understanding that you're gonna crash it at the nearest opportunity. Warcraft is made to be used as much as possible. So is crack.

And logic blocks the blow and delivers a knockout punch!