Are you and your beau fighting over in-laws, affairs, or dirty laundry strewn all over the bedroom? Aw, how 2017.
The cause of marital discontent may be shifting in 2018, as the viral online video game Fortnite sweeps the globe. According to a new report from Divorce Online, a UK site offering information and services to people who are uncoupling, 200 divorce petitions filed in the UK since the start of this year cited Fortnite as a reason for the separation.
“These numbers equate to roughly 5% of the 4,665 petitions we have handled since the beginning of the year and as one of the largest filers of divorce petitions in the UK, is a pretty good indicator,” said a Divorce Online spokesperson in the report.
The company did not specify how Fortnite contributed to the separations, though its highly addictive, time-consuming nature is a sure contender. Addiction to drugs, alcohol, and gambling are often cited as reasons for relationships ending, and as digital technology increasingly takes over our lives, many argue that social media is as addicting as drugs.
On a recent vacation, my 16-year-old compatriot spent nearly every minute on the beach playing Fortnite. He’s certainly not unique. But the game isn’t just for teens: Approximately half of Fortnite players are fully employed adults.
If you’re unacquainted, Fortnite is a survival sandbox game, and Fortnite Battle Royale, its most popular mode, is a multiplayer Hunger Games–style shooter-survival contest where the goal is to kill off everyone else. Released by Epic Games last year, Fortnite is free to download and available on nearly every gaming platform. As Quartz reported earlier, nearly 70% of Fortnite players buy digital items—such as new outfits for their characters—and those who do spend on average $85 for such accessories. In April alone, Fortnite made nearly $300 million for Epic Games. Approximately 125 million people worldwide were playing Fortnite across all platforms as of June, and more than 40 million log in to it every month.
You can speculate why it may be less than satisfying if your romantic partner is among this cohort. However, these stats are just one drop in the larger debate about how screens are affecting the most important assets in our lives: time and relationships. After all, merely owning a TV dampers your sex life—why would digitally shooting down your Fortnite friends be any different?