Divorce is back in fashion — in the UK, at least. While rates have been falling year-on-year in the US since the 1980s, last year the UK saw its first rise this decade in couples ending their marriages, a 5.8 percent increase on the previous year.
Figures for 2017 are not yet available but online legal firm Divorce-online.co.uk believes it can provide some answers — at least about the shifting reasons offered by plaintiffs in divorce cases — and it notices a marked spike in online gaming-related claims.
And it should know. Billed as “the UK’s original and highly trusted online divorce service,” Divorce-online.co.uk deals with short-order divorce on an industrial scale, charging a conveyor belt of couples £59 ($77) each to be severed from their insufferable other halves — a kind of nuptial abattoir, spewing out decrees absolute like some Papal nightmare.
Married for a Fortnite
Of the 4,665 petitions handled so far this year — a figure that alone represents around 4.6 percent of all divorce petitions in the UK for the whole year of 2016 — five percent of all plaintiffs have cited digital addictions as the primary reason for their relationship breakdown.
“Addiction to drugs, alcohol and gambling are have often been cited as reasons for relationship breakdown but the dawn of the digital revolution has introduced new addictions,” a spokesperson for the company told the Daily Mirror this week.
These now include online pornography, online gaming, and social media, so it is no surprise to us that more and more people are having relationship problems because of our digital addictions.”
Online gambling and pornography are nothing new, but one entirely current trend has been singled out by the legal firm as a statistically significant homewrecker — the online cooperative survival-shooter, Fortnite Battle Royale.
Divorce-online.co.uk says that it has severed 200 marriages this year so far because of the game, which has been downloaded 125 million times worldwide since its release in 2017.
Fortnite employs microtransactions and its own in-game currency, V-Bucks, which allow players to purchase “llama loot piñatas” that offer a random reward.
Governments and regulators across the world are becoming increasingly concerned about loot boxes in video games — which employ elements of chance and risk/reward scenarios — and are asking whether they should be classed as gambling.
Fortnite has won numerous awards and has become a cultural phenomenon in the short time since its release, as well as a new favorite on the esports circuit, but questions are also being asked of its developer, Epic Games, of the dangers of its accessibility to children and its addictive nature.
Now, it seems, soon-to-be-divorced husbands — and we’re assuming it’s mainly husbands — should be included in Epic’s duty of care.