Are Young Men Leaving the Workforce Because Video Games Have Gotten Too Fucking Cool?

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I think better video games are pretty much the reason we need universal basic income. We should honestly just have someone storm into Congress like: “Have you seen video games these days? Seriously! We’re supposed to work all day with this constant deluge of awesome shit?”

The funny thing is that I’m not even that much of a gamer (not that I don’t game). But man, the surplus of entertainment currently at our disposal is fairly mind boggling and completely unprecedented in world history. Also, it just keeps increasing exponentially by the day. Don’t tell me that capitalism has never done anything for us. (From Big Think):

“The numbers paint a dreary picture. Between 2000 and 2015, employment rates for lower-skilled men in their twenties dropped from 82 percent to 72 percent. In 2015, about one-fifth of them reported having not worked at all in the past 12 months. And, for the first time in decades, they’re more likely to live with their parents than a romantic partner.

It begs the question: What are these guys going to do when they enter their 30s and 40s without solid career experience?

Despite the uncertainty, they actually report being happier than they were 15 years ago. So what’s making them content to stay out of work? Better video games, says Erik Hurst, an economist at the University of Chicago who co-authored a study on this shift in the labor supply:

“We have determined that, in general, [lower-skilled young men] are not going back to school or switching careers, so what are they doing with their time?” Hurst asked in a recent interview with the university. “The hours that they are not working have been replaced almost one for one with leisure time. Seventy-five percent of this new leisure time falls into one category: video games.”

“These individuals are living with parents or relatives, and happiness surveys actually indicate that they are quite content compared to their peers, making it hard to argue that some sort of constraint, like they are miserable because they can’t find a job, is causing them to play video games.”

The study claims that factors like the recession or decreased demand for low-skilled labor don’t fully account for this group’s lost work hours. Rather, leisure time is becoming more valuable as video games improve and become more affordable. 

“People have switched so much time, more time than we would have predicted, to computers and video games, and our model attributes that to technological progress,” Hurst said to the Chicago Tribune.

Young lower-skilled men spent about 8.6 hours gaming per week from 2011 to 2014, compared with 3.4 hours from 2004 to 2007. Sure, pretty much everyone has been playing more video games. But people with high-wage jobs game less. The reason might be that gaming time represents a higher opportunity cost to them, while people with low-wage jobs and no discernible career path might be more willing to trade work for play.

“When I play a game, I know if I have a few hours I will be rewarded,” said 22-year-old gamer Danny Izquierdo to the Chicago Tribune. “With a job, it’s always been up in the air with the amount of work I put in and the reward.”

Why spend so much time gaming?

Job or no job, gaming can be rewarding.

Online multiplayer games can fulfill social needs like friendship and a sense of community.

Emotionally engaging games can yield a whole spectrum of emotional experiences, like a good movie or novel.

Games can induce “flow,” a psychological state in which a person engaged in a skilled activity feels intense enjoyment and loss of a sense of self and time.

Games give people a sense of accomplishment from solving complex problems. Unlike the real world, problems in games are well defined and exist in a constrained universe.

Most importantly, video games release dopamine – especially in men. One study showed that both sexes experienced a dopamine release from gaming, but the levels were considerably higher in males. What’s more, men who performed well in the games showed higher dopamine levels.

The regular release of dopamine poses a problem, though.

Keeping players hooked”

Read the rest over at Big Think

Thad McKraken

Thad McKraken

CEO at DMI
Thad McKraken is a psychedelic writer, musician, visual artist, filmmaker, Occultist, and pug enthusiast based out of Seattle. He is the author of the books The Galactic Dialogue: Occult Initiations and Transmissions From Outside of Time, both of which can be picked up on Amazon super cheap.
Thad McKraken