Popular 'Fortnite' video game contributing to hundreds of divorces around world, experts say

'Fortnite' being blamed for at least 200 divorces in U.K.

DETROIT – Marriages struggle and end for many reasons, and the popular video game "Fortnite" is being blamed for hundreds of divorces around the world.

Metro Detroit divorce attorney Jessica Woll said she wasn't shocked to hear that at least 200 couples in the United Kingdom filed for divorce last year citing an addiction to "Fortnite" and other online games as one of the reasons.

The latest numbers are according to the company Divorce Online.

"It's unfortunately breaking up marriages -- games like this," Woll said. "This is probably one of the most popular games to have that effect on a marriage because not only are you spending so much time basically becoming addicting to this game, you can play against people from all over the world, and I would say, like a dating site, you already have something in common, right? You love gaming."

There are more than 125 million registered "Fortnite" players around the world, and according to the game's developer, Epic Games, it has generated more than $1 billion since it launched in 2017.

"When you get married, that's when the honeymoon is over and the work of marriage begins," Dr. Donna Rockwell, a clinical psychologist, said. "It's so easy over time to fall out of attention with each other if you add in things like video games, with their addictive qualities."

Rockwell said, as with other addictions, people just can't seem to stop playing "Fortnite".

"It isn't surprising when you think about the addictive brain and what happens," Rockwell said. "Say, whether it's heroin or a video game that you love, your brain is going to get stimulated. The reward center every time you hit or something, your brain is flooded with reward center chemicals. When that happens, you're going to choose that instead of going to talk to your wife in the kitchen making dinner."

Looking ahead, Woll said she doesn't see this trend dying anytime soon.

"I think here we're going to see more of it," Woll said. "It's going to become a bigger problem. It's not going to become a lesser problem. We're going to find that it's more popular in the United States as that game becomes more and more popular.

"I would just give a word of caution to anybody that's wondering where their spouse is, you know, for long periods of time, and then they notice they're in front of a game like that. Try to catch it early so that it doesn't become anything more than just a form of entertainment."

"It would almost be like a red flag or a call to danger that you could lose your wife, your husband, your partner or your family if you don't get this in check," Rockwell said. "It's really a call to arms for the family that they need to start doing things together: going for walks after dinner in the neighborhood instead of going in the basement playing video games."

Rockwell said if someone can't confront their spouse about the problem and they push back on making any changes, that's when it's time to get professional help from a therapist, preferably someone who specializes in addiction issues.

Local 4 reached out to "Fortnite's" developers but did not hear back.

About the Authors: