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Failure to Launch: Young Men and Video Games

Failure to Launch: Young Men and Video Games

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By Wednesday, 26 October 2016 04:21 PM Current | Bio | Archive

You don’t have to slip on a virtual reality headset to know that video and computer games have taken huge leaps forward in both sophistication and immersive experience. Whether you want to kill the aliens that have overrun your space station, jump into a particularly challenging WWII battle, make the game-winning goal on the soccer field, or steal cars and beat up gang-bangers in a gritty urban environment, video games today have all the bases covered.

Video games are also astonishingly popular. The best selling video games of all time have sales figures that outstrip almost all other media. Three examples: Grand Theft Auto V has sold sixty-five million units, Wii Sports has sold eighty-two million units, and a little world building game called Minecraft has sold over 100 million copies.

In fact, sales figures show that the video game industry is bigger than Hollywood’s movie business, amounting to $21 billion in the United States in 2013. More recently, video games racked up $23 billion in sales the same year that movies raked in a mere $10.6 billion and all music industry revenue added up to less than $7 billion.

While good for the video game powerhouses like Electronic Arts, and certainly great for gamers who seek ever more realistic thrills, this same popularity is a harbinger of a major problem: Even though unemployment keeps dropping, research shows that a high percentage of able-bodied men, particularly those in their 20s and those with less education, are opting either not to work at all or just work part-time.

Why? The latest research shows that one of the major reason that young men without college degrees are rejecting work isn’t because there aren’t jobs available, but because they’d rather live at home and play video games instead.

And here’s what’s surprising: These same young men are reporting that they’re happier with this life decision, even as they have less income and lower rates of employment. Of course, the researchers neglected to report the happiness level of parents who are covering food, mortgage and electricity, but I digress . . .

Despite their own happiness levels, there is a larger issue at stake for these men: while they are enjoying their life of leisure, they aren’t gaining critical job experience that will help them move into more productive and lucrative careers in their thirties and forties.

Lacking such opportunities later can lead to life challenges including alcoholism, drug use and depression.

Taken in that light, the numbers aren’t the punchline of a joke but are instead quite concerning: 22 percent of men between twenty-one and thirty with less than a bachelor’s degree reported not working at all, a huge leap from 2000 when only 9.5 percent reported being without work.

This trend is not just limited to men in their twenties either: Only 88 percent of American men between twenty-four and fifty-four are working or looking for work, making American men one of the least employed groups among thirty-four developed countries.

At the top? Korea, New Zealand and Norway.

Video games offer rewards that weren’t imaginable a decade ago. They’re online, social, and massively multiplayer. For a lot of young men, video games offer both a strong community and a significant sense of achievement, things that can be difficult to duplicate in a real world job, particularly in an entry- or low-level position.

The American Academy of Pediatrics last week released guidelines for limiting children’s screen time. Maybe young men could do with the same guidelines too, lest they sabotage their future—and their family’s future—by living too much of a life of virtual leisure today.

This article first appeared on Acculturated.com.

Dave Taylor is a long-time media commentator and writer, with a focus on consumer electronics and technology. He holds a Masters degree in Education and an MBA and has published over twenty books. A single father to two teens and a tween, he also moonlights as a film and media critic and calls Boulder, Colorado, home. Read more of his reports — Go Here Now.

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Video game popularity is a harbinger of a major problem. Even though unemployment keeps dropping, research shows that a high percentage of men, particularly those in their twenties and those with less education, are opting either not to work at all or work part-time.
electronic arts, pediatrics
Wednesday, 26 October 2016 04:21 PM
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