With a rush of big video games out in the run-up to Christmas, some people may have found they have taken second place to the console, as this woman relates.
My boyfriend is leading a double life.
'Back me up, we're supposed to be a team'
During daylight hours he holds down a respectable office job and makes complicated decisions. By night, he is a hardened soldier who spends his time planting bombs and capturing flags.
When he's not doing that, he works as a scientist in the dangerous trouble spot known as City 17.
But this is no international man of mystery. Instead, he's an online hero who gets his kicks on virtual battlefields.
Yes, my man is addicted to Halo 2 and Half-Life 2. And I am a games widow.
Halo 2; Half-Life 2; Killzone; Getaway 2: Black Monday. So many pre-Christmas games releases, so little time. I should be grateful he doesn't play GTA: San Andreas, he tells me. Or Need for Speed: Underground 2. Or indeed Fifa 2005. Yet.
It wasn't always like this. The living room hasn't always been a mess of cables, controllers and consoles. He kept his other life on the PC in the spare room. But then along came consoles, the broadband connection and whole new worlds opened up online.
Now he sits in front of the TV for hours at a time, while exhorting his clan-mates to "get in the cave!" or "back me up, we're supposed to be a team", or exchanging grunts with American teenagers.
Assume the identity of Gordon Freeman in Half-Life 2
Nor does it stop when he has prised himself away from the console. I am treated to monologues on the relative merits of his opponents ("useless"), or the "filmic" qualities of Half-Life 2.
I should point out that I know how easy it is to be seduced by the winking black box in the corner, having myself had an intense yet brief infatuation with games in the past.
We have reached a compromise of sorts, whereby he arranges gaming evenings with his friends only when I am out, and the rest of the time he plays only in short bursts.
But it looks like his obsession is here to stay.
I take scant consolation from knowing that I cannot be alone in my suffering.
With big-name games selling by the bucketload in the run-up to Christmas, and the fact that thousands of people are signing up to broadband each week in the UK, the online gaming bug must be infecting many relationships.
At this point, there can be only one solution: if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. Let's get together and form a clan. We can call ourselves the Game Widows.
Does your partner play video games all the time and ignore you? Here are a selection of your comments.
My relationship of six years ended because of the PlayStation. When our son was born my partner spent all his time playing games. We never went to bed at the same time due to him staying up as he wanted just to get to a certain level. He slept during the day due to being up all night and I was left holding the baby literally. Our relationship ended and he admits now it was down to the PlayStation. I am happy now and have a new partner who does not own a games console. Every cloud has a silver lining.
My husband suffers a terrible addiction to EverQuest. He even has withdrawal symptoms when we're on holiday, slackened only by finding an internet connection to check on the status of his fellow players. He plays at least eight hours a day, not coming to bed until 3am most mornings. I've become so accustomed to seeing only the back of his head, that I am shocked when I see his face. I'll sign up to the Games Widow clan!
What about the game widowers? My wife is addicted to patience type card games and Tetris. This is not a recent 3D technological phenomenon
I am a gamer and love to play cyber soldier. My significant other doesn't play games at all but understands that this is something I enjoy. There is no reason why I can't play video games for hours at a time as long as I spend the same energy and attention on her later. A little understanding in both directions goes a long way.
All these articles about "my boyfriend" "my husband" etc, it works both ways, it's not just men. Worst thing or best thing I ever done was to introduce my wife to the world of computers and games, I never see her any more. Every waking moment she is playing games. Its not just men there is a large growing number of women gamers on and offline.
My boyfriend used to have a PS2 until it was stolen in a burglary. He used to play every now and then but I often ended up going to bed alone, waiting for him to stop playing. Now he intends on buying anther one for himself, solely to play GTA: San Andreas. I gave him a simple option: "Buy a new console, get yourself a new girlfriend." I think he got the point.
Sophie, Paris, France
I think if it wasn't games it would be football, or the pub. At least you know where he is and what he's doing, sounds a bit invasive when it's in your living room, though! Hopefully you've also got other interests and you can spend some time together as well.
James Bradbury, Chippenham, UK
I was with a gamer for years and in the end there was only one solution, he got dumped.
Katie, Bournemouth, England
My boyfriend and I play consoles together. We buy games that two people can play, or take turns. It's a hobby that we both share and enjoy.
My husband is a huge PC games fan. After a little while trying to compete with the games I gave in, and joined in. We now have an affordable hobby that we can do together, and meet new people. And we have met a lot of very nice people, a number of which came to our wedding. Gaming isn't all bad!
I'm a gaming addict, I'll admit, a fussy one though! It does put a strain on the relationship, and I know I am at fault for spending hours in front of a game, but I've not found many two-player games that aren't repetitive thus extending their replay value. Ones that we would both enjoy.
My wife and previous girlfriends have made me watch endless fictional stories for hours each night - soap operas, to spend "quality time together". I still do, but now I have my own hobby and she can join in the gaming if she wants to.
I have to admit this article made me chuckle. Despite being a hardcore gamer, I always have time for my girlfriend. Ok so when Half-Life 2 came out I spend 19 hours over two days just playing without much contact with my girlfriend but we agreed we would have a nice weekend after Half Life 2 was completed.
John Wilson, UK
I have been an online gamer for several years now; a virtual soldier in America's Army. It cost me a relationship that I wish I hadn't lost and it made me realise that I had accomplished very little during that time. In retrospect I think that just a few hours a week away from my PC and with my former girlfriend instead would have been enough to save our relationship.
It's not all bad though, the friends I've made through my online experience are great. Most of us have stopped playing games now, but we still keep in touch despite living in three different countries.
Since I met my partner I've been a Megadrive, Saturn, N64, Playstation, PC and Xbox widow!I've even recently had to wrestle one of those retro 5000 games in one pad things out of his hands. But the way I see it is I can still see him, I know that he's safe and not drunk in a gutter somewhere, and in the past we've even found one or two games in common. I guess that it's mainly women that are moaning about it, but ladies please remember the times that we banned our other halves from breathing when watching our soaps, Sex In The City, Friends, or in my case Buffy. They suffer too. Or at least that's what he tries to tell me!
People think I'm a 'console widow' but I'm not, I actively encourage my husband with his gaming to the disbelief of many! When the Xbox came out, I was first in queue to get him one, and I've got him an Xbox Crystal for this Christmas because it just looks so cool doesn't it? I pre-ordered him Halo2 in a limited box edition set and he travelled into work with me on the morning of release to pick it up and go home and play it! I organise Xbox evenings for him and I put on food for him and his mates so that they have a great evening. But , I've always been into games myself, so this is why I'm probably like this unlike all of my friends who think I'm mad.
I just understand perhaps the sudden necessary bursts of gaming that have to be done when a new game comes out, and it also means I get a great lie-in at the weekend because my husband and step-daughter sneak downstairs early to get a barrel load of gaming in before I get up. I do make him watch some dire television though and he doesn't grumble. In fact he was quite happily watching Strictly Come Dancing Xmas final last night with actually enjoying it!
My girlfriend must be very lucky, I don't watch football and certainly don't play computer games. I stopped when I left my teenage years. There are so many exciting, healthy things to do, alone or together. And no we never waste our days off shopping or anything mundane like that. People should try enjoying there homes, partners, friends and family more. Then again when people are playing computer games, the cycle paths, hills, mountains etc are just that little bit quieter.
I'm a hardened PC gamer, and admit that sometimes it gets in the way of RL (or Real Life) but in my opinion gaming is much better for you then just sitting in front of the telly watching inane game shows, soaps and sitcoms. At least I interact with the people I play with, and all the while I learn more about the technology used in the games and systems we use, which can be used in other areas, employment for example. Surely that's better then wondering who is sleeping with whom or what the next 'hilarious' catchphrase from some comedy is!
Luke, London, UK
I love computer games and am a self-confessed games addict but would never let it come in the way of a relationship. Unless, of course, my partner was very boring. I think the 'widows' should be taking some responsibility here and try and amuse us once in a while. Yes, I am single.
Sarge, Birmingham, UK
Ah, so I am not alone then? Me and my husband have separate lives, he's always in bed hours after me due to gaming. Even on holiday he had to go to the internet cafe every day to play. I don't let it bother me, I'm not even that interested in the TV, never mind a computer game! Just remember they could be up to a lot worse!
I have a gaming addict husband and whilst he tends to organise nights and specific gaming times, it does seem as though he is waiting for any slight lapse of my consciousness/attention to leap across the lounge and flick the switch on the Xbox. A slight closing of tired eyes late at night or even just getting up and going to the loo and I return to find him with the console gripped in his palm and headphones strapped to his head. He'll then say in such an innocent voice; "Oh I thought you'd gone to bed!" However I can't complain too much, I'd rather be married to a gaming addict than most other addicts I can think of!
It wasn't until the introduction of online gaming that my husband constantly kept his back turned to me and our young son for up to 10 hours a day, seven days a week. I can understand how you can be obsessed with gaming, I loved gaming for a little while myself, but now I don't have time. My husband and I did share a lot of interests before out son was born. Now I'm left holding the baby whilst he battles it out on Eve Online, often going to bed at 3am. A bit of time to remember he's a dad as well as a husband would be the nice, just to show us he's not turned into some deaf, selfish Elf at Christmas!
My fiance plays computer games quite a lot especially since the Xbox live was activated in our area but like someone else said if it wasn't gaming then it could be the pub or gambling etc. At the end of the day it's only a hobby and I have hobbies too. It makes him happy and that should be the most important thing.
Sarah Wilson, United Kingdom
I like watching my other half play on his Xbox, it helps him relax after a hard day at work and its usually better than watching some rubbish on TV. He turns it off when we eat dinner and it never keeps him up all night because it has a 'save' feature.
Anne, Notts, UK
I couldn't help but laugh after reading your games widow article. I too have suffered the loss of a partner to that evil black box in the corner of the room. I've witnessed my usually lovely bloke turn into a cross-eyed twitching warrior and tripped over many a console cable in the process. One day I decided enough was enough and thought "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em." In came broadband, Xbox Live and seriously, it turned out not so bad. Those evenings of the pre-menstrual kind are now whiled away screaming abuse at some American at the other end of the line and killing aliens and bugs in the most unsavoury manor. Great once a month but only in small doses. I'd still take a bath and box of choccies any day.
Sarah, Surrey, UK