WRONG: 'Video games causing divorce': It's The Daily Mail Maths Challenge!

Marriages being "wrecked"; Divorce Online's profile being "boosted"

"Divorce Online was founded in 1999 by leading divorce and technology experts to make divorce cheaper and easier for all."

Warms the cockles, doesn't it?

And guess what? They also do research - with numbers and percentages and everything. Some of which seems ready-made for Daily Mail headlines. Like this one...

"Video games being blamed for divorce as men 'prefer World of Warcraft to their wives'"



According to the Mail (via Divorce Online's doubtlessly watertight research) "a growing number of marriages are being wrecked by video game addiction."

15 per cent of wives in Divorce Online's test group believed that "their partners put gaming before them". That number has "soared" from five per cent just a year ago, according to the nuptials-erasing web firm.

Shocking, right? Time for us all to put down the pad and become proper people. Then again, before we return to civility and liberate ourselves from digital, Nik-Nak-munching barbarism, perhaps some basic maths are in order...

The Mail reveals (in paragraph 13 of its story - what's it doing down there?), that Divorce Online's 'study' was based on just 200 "unreasonable behaviour petitions filed by women".

Hardly a fair cross section of divorcees up and down the land, when you consider that 113,949 UK married couples split in 2009 (the last full year on record at the Office For National Statistics).

In total - and here's some approximate CVG research with numbers and percentages and everything - the 200 people from Divorce Online's study therefore represent 0.175 per cent of total UK divorces per year.

Now, remember how gaming-related complaints have "soared" amongst 15 per cent of these people?

15 per cent of 200 people is 30 people. The Mail's story is based on the testimony of fewer women than you see in your average office Xmas party Conga line. Hold the front page.

A bit more number crunching... and these 30 women (whom the Mail suggests, remember, are living proof that games are "wrecking" marriages) represent approximately 0.026 per cent of annual UK divorces. Factor in that each of them naturally only tells half the story of their own marriage, and they collectively speak for... a whopping 0.014 per cent of new UK divorcees in any given year.

Definitely worthy of a headline in a national newspaper. No question. It's the gosh darn craze sweeping the country!


Anyway, back to the Mail's exquisite reportage. You'll like this bit: "In particular, disgruntled wives blamed World of Warcraft, which allows gamers to create their own fantasy character for mythical adventures, and Call Of Duty, where gamers battle in various war zones.

"The games have faced heavy criticism in the past for their addictive properties, with some claiming that World of Warcraft is more addictive than cocaine."

Well, you say 'some'. It's 'one', really. WRONG Hall Of Shamer, Interesting Steve Pope. Who has admitted that he can't back up his claim with evidence. But by the by.

Who else does the Mail turn to? Why, it's poet Ryan G. Van Cleave!

"A poet?", we hear you say. "Does he bring a touch of flowery prose to The Mail's usual thumping outcry?"

No. He says this:

"The problem spouses encounter with video game addiction is that the non-gamer doesn't appreciate that it's an addiction. This means it's not a choice to spend so much time in a virtual environment versus time with the spouse and family. It's a compulsion.

"'The reality is that with the proper professional support, a video game addict, like any other type of addict, can overcome the addiction."


Ryan also wrote a lovely book o' stanzas called: "The Magical Breasts of Britney Spears."

Which doesn't sound too unlike a Mail Online headline.

The final word is given to Divorce Online managing director Mark Keenan, who notes: "The increase could be a consequence of people staying indoors more because of the recession... or it might be being used by men in particular as a means of escape from an already unhappy relationship."