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game verslaving

Washing machines and vacuum cleaners allowed women in the 60s and 70s to get a job out of the house. A paper by the America National Bureau of Economics studies the hypothesis that questions whether young American males have been working less due to the attraction of online gaming.

The data:
Between 2000 and 2015, men between the ages of 31 and 55 years have worked 163 fewer hours per year.
Between 2000 and 2015, men between the ages of 21 and 30 years have worked 203 fewer hours per year.T
The differences could be explained by the effects of globalization, technological developments, etc., that decreased the amount of available jobs.

What do men want?
But the researches approach the subject from a different perspective: ‘Do young males want to work less?’.
The looked at the recession as a ‘natural experiment’. They studied the activities that people spend their extra free time on. In 2004-2005, young American males had an average of 2 to 3 hours of extra free time per week. -fulltime students were not included in this study. 60% of that time was spent on online gaming. (Women had an average of 1.4 hours of extra free time per week in those years, but they hardly spent it on gaming. The same goes for older males and females.)

In conclusion: young males like to game. That’s understandable: the average wage of males has hardly increased in the past few decennia and videogames have becomes exponentially more interesting. World of Warcraft and its infinite possibilities resembled a turning point in 2004. ‘The gamer wakes up in the morning and thinks: today I will improve these skills, my buddies/the online community are counting on me.’ Gaming fulfills an important social role that’s also present in a ‘regular job’: both offer a routine, the constant need to improve yourself, they are both never finished, and in both cases you’re part of a community.

A lot of counterpoints can be provided to the connections found in this study. For example, in Japan, where online gaming is hugely popular, young males have not been working less as a result.

Gaming more, working less, is that bad?
An interesting question that arises is: is it a bad thing for young males to start working less? Young males with a lesser education appear to be happier in comparison to men ten years ago. One of the author poses -now that we’re all becoming much older and we assume that there’s work to be had in the future-: ‘Why not have a lot of fun in your 20s and work when you’re 80..’.

New York Times, 3-7-2017. Quotrung Bui: ‘Why some men don’t work, videogames have gotten really good’