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The Scoop - Video games now target marriage

There's no way to determine how many quarters I pumped into video game machines as a kid. I was a Pat Benetar-loving lad in the early 1980s when full-sized video games like Pac-Man, Galaga, Frogger, and Donkey Kong were all the rage.

A great Friday night for me was to get dropped off at the arcade, buy $10 worth of tokens, and play for a couple hours. If I managed to land the high score, I'd get to use the joystick to sign in my initials and show all my friends I was the best player in the building.

It seemed like innocent fun at the time and because I was a kid with little money, my fun was certainly limited to the number of quarters in my pocket.

As we all know, times have changed. Just like there are no more pay phones because everyone now has a cellphone, there are very few arcades because everyone now has a game system at home. It turns out those game systems are causing marital problems.

I was reading a story on CNBC on Wednesday night that said the latest hit video game called "Fortnite" is leading to divorce. I guess the vows "for better or for worse, in sickness and in health" don't include a clause  about first-person-shooter video games.

The CNBC article cited a website called Divorce Online, which I suppose is a sign of the times. We post pictures, do our shopping, and trade insults online. It's a natural progression for people to get divorced online too.

Divorce Online admits it only handles a small amount of divorce proceedings, but it said in examining figures from 4,665 British couples, that roughly 5 percent of them, 200 couples, listed "Fortnite" and other online games as the reason for their divorce.

A Divorce Online spokesperson told CNBC that, "addiction to drugs, alcohol and gambling have often been cited as reasons for relationship breakdown but the dawn of the digital revolution has introduced new addictions."

Earlier this year, the World Health Organization classified "gaming disorder" as an official mental health condition. The organization said it's seeing "increasing priority given to gaming over other activities to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other interests and daily activities."

As a father of two teenage sons, I can say playing "Fortnite" and other video games is a great priority in their lives. Playing "Fortnite" might possibly be their favorite thing to do in the world.

I can relate to the joy of playing video games myself, but my time in front of a screen was usually relegated to a couple hours a week. Surveys are now pointing to a large portion of video-gamers playing for more than 11 hours per week.

Back in my day, I'd try to move my Pac-Man to eat away at ghosts. Now in our new-age digital world, video games are eating away at marriage.

Standard editor James Clark can be reached at 473-2191.