Video games: a bit of harmless fun. Right? WRONG! [the sound of thunder, hellfire and cats being stepped on] Gaming has been wrongly accused of many things. Back in the 90’s, claiming that video games promoted real-life violence was one of the pillars of the culture war. But one mark games may have against them, as backed up by science, is that they’re linked to unemployment in young men.
A new report has been published, authored by experts at the University of Rochester, the University of Chicago, and Princeton, that claims that video game use is linked to unemployment in young men without college degrees. The men in question are typically single and live with family members, and gaming claims the lion’s share of their discretionary time. The researchers write, “Aside from TV/movie watching, computing and gaming are the primary leisure activity of these less educated young men without a job.”
The researchers speculate that an increase in the complexity and realism of video games may account for the spike in time spent playing. They’re also cheap. According to the report, gaming, on average, costs about $100 per year.
If your neck is flexing in defensive anger, don’t store that tension just yet. The report is preliminary. It hasn’t been put through the peer review process so it’s still anyone’s game, so to speak. The report also doesn’t establish or claim to establish causation between playing video games and not having a job. It only claims that guys without jobs tend to game more. Perhaps not a paradigm-shattering hypothesis.
So as with almost everything, it boils down to your own subjective experience. Are you pwning n00bs for eight hours a day instead of applying to jobs? Then yes, video games probably have something to do with the fact that you still have to pilfer your parents’ beer out of the fridge. But if you’re just a normal guy who likes to unwind with a gaming session, it’s probably not a serious problem that needs to be addressed.
Video games, along with internet pornography, fall into the category of recent innovations that may or may not have the potential to form hard addictions. The prevailing scientific wind is towards the conclusion that yes, in fact, they can. So while hysterical or easily frightened parents may be quick to see an addiction where there’s only boredom, that doesn’t mean that your particular rabbit hole necessarily has a solid bottom. If you’re worried, get help.