Games can be addictive. But don't take our word for it: Listen to the gamer "widows" that wrote in to respond to our story about significant others and their obsessive game-playing habits.
"I had to mow the grass at 8 months pregnant because [my husband] refused to," wrote Joyce Lindsey, from Lee's Summit, Mo."I will probably eventually leave him and I bet he wouldn't notice."
Some gamers agreed that getting hooked on gaming was frighteningly easy. Readers wrote in to detail their coping strategies for dealing with their habit.
"I was, and am still, addicted to gaming," said M. Keil from Ontario. "My friends all want me to join 'WoW' and 'Halo.' But I reject it because I know what it would do to me."
Still other gamers say they don't get what all the fuss is about. Brian from Denver wrote that his wife complained frequently about his game-playing — but he thinks that if "widows" would quit nagging and pick up a controller, they'd love games, too.
And he may be right: We received many e-mails from spouses who play alongside their gamers. Erika, from Brentwood, Calif., wrote that she nearly lost her husband to "EverQuest."
"I resisted and nagged for a little while, but I gave in and tried it to shut him up. Who knew that 8 years later, we'd still be gaming together?"
A couple of readers took issue with our use of the term "widow" to describe spouses who feel abandoned by their game-playing sweeties. Real widows, like one anonymous reader who wrote in, think these women should quit complaining and count their blessings.
"My husband was a gamer, but he died of a massive heart attack last November. I would give ANYTHING to have him 'two computers away' on 'WoW.'"
Read on for more reader responses.
I am an online gamer...I became one to understand the attraction the games have for my husband. What I found is a whole community of people who, for the most part, are open,non-judgemental ,supportive and friendly. They don't know your past, your physical imperfections,or anything that might prejudice them.
— Judy, Council Bluffs, Iowa
My wife left me for a man she met in Second Life. She has abandoned me, my children, our pets, her biological family, all of her real friends, virtually (no pun intended) her entire real life for the fantasy of Second Life. We all feel abandoned. And in her view, we are all to blame for her seeking comfort and escape in Second Life.
— Bob Stephens, Concord, Calif.
I feel my husband of nine years uses all his spare time and all of his days off just to play videogames...seems like we've been getting further apart. He hardly goes anywhere with me and constanly makes up excuses just to stay home and play video games. Does he have an addiction to video games?
— Christina, Surprise, Ariz.
I do not see my husband much since he does work 50 hours a week. However, when he is home the first thing he does it turn on his Xbox 360 and play "Madden" for hours on end. When I walk in the room and he messes up, I'm immediately blaimed for it. His family and I joke that we need an intervention for him, but I'm not really joking when i say that.
--Melissa ,Waltham, Mass.
Try it, you may actually like it! I'm a gamer, and I tell "widows" this all the time. I play "World of Warcraft" with my husband, and when the guys find out I'm a woman, they ask me to talk to their spouse and help them learn that "WoW" isn't evil...If your significant other has disappeared into a virtual world, you should examine your relationship and your home lives. If they won't give up their gaming addiction for you, maybe it's time to rethink things.
— Ary, Alexandria, VA
I am a reformed gamer who was once seduced by the popular MMORPG "Final Fantasy XI." It all began about three years ago when I moved in with my best friend who was also my college roommate. Her boyfriend lived with us as well and the odd pair would spend every waking non-working moment on this silly game. My boyfriend and I would joke about them often in public until one day my friend asked me if I would play with her while her boyfriend was out of town. I was very reluctant, but once she got me behind her boyfriend's laptop I was surprisingly hooked. I would cry whenever my boyfriend would tell me to stop playing that game, and that's when I reached my breaking point and gave that game up once and for all. I love my boyfriend more than anything the Internet could ever deliver. He is now my fiancé and the father of my son, and also my savior.
— CC, U.S.
This is a deeper-seeded problem than some video game addiction, most of the addicts that they talk about sound seriously unhappy with life in general, their marriage, relationship, whatever. Thus, they use the game as an escape. Nagging, sabotaging their computer, or breaking game discs does nothing more than push their partner away.
— VA, Grand Rapid, MI
I downloaded a trial version of "World of Warcraft" last October. It is a hugely popular game where I, a relative "nobody" in real life, is a founding guild member, guild officer and very strong player and guildmate, and everyone always wants or needs my help. It is VERY attractive in that sense, and therein lies the addictive property ... I am not very "needed" in real life, so the lure of being the one to go to ingame is a huge boost for the ego and personality.
— Addicted in Virginia
I used to be a big gamer, but I had kids and my focus changed. Not to mention that my equipment has fallen behind the system requirements of any new game.
— Kirt, Detroit, MI
Just because you can't understand what he sees in the game doesn't mean it's not a worthwhile past time. I'm not sure why it's okay for people to unwind in front of the TV for four hours but if you're playing a video game for that long then your wasting time. I have no idea why anybody would want to spend large amounts of time and money scrapbooking either but to each his own.
— Rachelle, Plainville, Conn.
Before I was married, I was a hard-core gamer. I met the woman of my dreams — and I left gaming in a heartbeat. After we got married, I settled in a bit and started playing "Warcraft 3" online again. I got to where I was playing two hours a night. My wife would go to bed alone, basically. When I reflect on how I was back then, three years ago, I was basically a selfish person. Part of it was my career was not going well and online gaming was kind of an outlet. But in reality, I was neglecting my wife who I promised to love and my little boy, both of whom I should spend more time with. I guess I just realized that the gaming was empty.
— T. Adams, Dallas
I started playing "WoW" last summer, and I was pretty addicted for a while, playing as much as 40 hours a week, on top of work. I still play, but I don't feel like I MUST play, which helps. If I can offer any advice to a person in a relationship with an addictive gamer, it is this: Remind them that there were things they enjoyed before they played, and that the game will be there when they go back to it. Remind them of the importance of their real life "guild,” and how "epic" friends and family are. It is possible to balance enjoying an MMORPG with a healthy real life, at least in my opinion.
— Steve, Las Vegas