Gamer widow: the phenomenological experience of spouses of online video game addicts
Northrup, Jason C.
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Recent studies have examined the concept of addiction to video games, particularly to the genre known as Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPGs). To date, however, none have examined the impact of this addiction on family members of video game addicts. The purpose of this study is to describe the lived experiences of the spouses of online video game addicts. This study uses a phenomenological methodology as described by Moustakas (1994). Data were gathered via a qualitative online survey solicited to members of three different online forums that cater to “gamer widows.” Data suggested three categories that described participants’ experiences of being married to an online video game addict: Changes in My Husband, Changes in Me, and Changes in the Marital Relationship. Among these categories, 12 themes emerged, including Isolation…Except His Gamer Friends, Protecting His Gaming, To Get Back to His Game, Personal Consequences, Emotional Consequences, Concept of Addiction, Aversion to MMORPGs, Ignoring the Addict, Our Roles and Responsibilities, More Distance Between Us, Financial Losses, and Why I Stay. In addition, 37 subthemes were identified. The study concludes by discussing the essence of the phenomenon, as well as implications for mental health professionals who might encounter gaming addicts and their spouses in their practices. Recommendations are made for future studies as well.