There is no doubt that for many, online games such as World of Warcraft (WoW) are an escape from family and friends.
But for others, time-pressed, divided families, those divorced, living away from their loved ones, or simply with grown-up children, these games are increasingly being used to stay in touch.
They are becoming a natural way to maintain family ties because so many people play them. Many now boast player bases that number in the millions. Also they are no longer are the preserve of teenage boys. Grown-ups play them too. The average age of the regular gamer is 25 and it has been estimated that up to 30% of the 11 million WoW players are women.