Are too many pro athletes playing Fortnite? Is Fortnite addictive? Has Fortnite caused hundreds to divorce? This Christmas, many people are asking those very questions as everyone settles into play their holiday gifts.
According to the Independent, numerous reports – published by just about every news major news organization – have recently claimed that some 5% of divorces are being caused by the online game.
The sources can all be traced back to one website called Divorce Online, which provides tools to people who are splitting up and need legal advice. And that pointed to some numbers that make clear that the story might not be all that it seems.
In fact, what actually happened is just a standard and depressing break down of relationships because of an addiction to online games. And the recent reports about Fortnite appear to be just a consequence of something being too good – or bad – to check.
All of the reports originated with that post on Divorce Online. Its headline read “Is Fortnite becoming a relationship wrecker?” and it went on to say that the site had dug into data generated about the people who were using its services.
“The company has done some data mining after seeing an increase in enquiries where Fortnite has been mentioned as part of the reason someone wanted to file a divorce”.
“It has received 200 divorce petitions since January 1st 2018 where addiction to Fortnite and other online games has been cited as one of the reasons for divorce.”
Many took that sentence and wrote stories suggesting that 200 divorces this year had been caused by Fortnite. But if that seems like a high number, it’s because it probably is: that “and other online games” is doing a lot of work, allowing the site to tie the news to a game that is famous but which might not have been cited in those divorces, which were actually about games in general.
Florida No Fault Divorce
Whether Fortnite is the reason for a marriage going bad or not, is largely irrelevant in getting a divorce in Florida. That’s because Florida has enacted a “no-fault divorce” law.
I’ve written about the no-fault concept before. The official term for divorce in Florida is “dissolution of marriage”, and you don’t need to prove some kind of fault as grounds for divorce. Florida abolished fault as a ground for divorce.
In Florida, either spouse can file for the dissolution of marriage. You must prove that a marriage exists, one party has been a Florida resident for six months before filing the petition, and the marriage is irretrievably broken.
However, fault may be considered under certain circumstances in the award of alimony, equitable distribution of marital assets and liabilities, and determination of parental responsibility.
Digging into the numbers, Divorce Online gave absolutely no indication how many of those divorces were caused by Fortnite itself. So possibly fewer than 200 divorces were caused by the game. Possibly, the other divorces were caused by other games.
More likely, the numbers reflect digital addiction in general. “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,” the site wrote in quotation attributed to a spokesperson.
“Fortnite is all over the news right now as one of the most addictive digital games ever played”.
The Independent article is here.