men working less, video-gaming more
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to research published in 2017 by four economists, young men are choosing to work
less and play video games more. The paper titled 'Leisure Luxuries and the Labor
Supply of Young Men' describes how between 2000 and 2015, hours worked by young
men in their 20s declined significantly more than hours worked by older men. In
absolute terms, hours worked by young men dropped by 203 hours per year, a 12%
decline. The authors suggest that a key cause of the trend has been the improvement
in video-game quality.
decline in hours worked by young men was paralleled by a decrease in the employment
rate of young men without a college education, which declined from 82% to 72%
over the same period. For each hour less worked by the group, leisure activities
increased by an hour. Around 75% of the increase in leisure was spent playing
video games. Over the same period inflation-adjusted hourly wages for the group
fell, meaning it cost them less to not work.
research is needed to determine whether higher-unemployment led young men to game
more, or whether better games caused young men to work less. Over the same period
the quality and sophistication of video games advanced significantly. It's possible
that both factors played a role, though it's not clear in what proportion.
games now rival Hollywood for realism
is clear is that video games have attained levels of visual, audio and story quality
that rival or exceed their Hollywood counterparts, with budgets to match. 'Grand
Theft Auto V', released in 2015, reportedly cost $265m to make and has sold
more than 75 million copies. Games today compete with Hollywood for voiceover
artists as well as for visual-effects creators, designers, writers and other talent.
Storylines and fragments of game-play are tested on focus groups and sent back
for re-design if found to be lacking. Such levels of sophistication are time consuming
budgets reflect demand. Grand Theft Auto V took $800m in sales on its first day,
three-times what it cost to make. In addition, game companies offer additional,
related products such as downloadable add-in content and access to new features,
often for online versions of their games. Today, a player can complete the game
alone in solo-player mode, and then join thousands of other players online to
play extended, interactive versions via online game networks.
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networks such as Sony's PlayStation premium network, PlayStation Plus, charge
premium subscription fees to access features such as online game play and access
to downloadable materials. At March 2017, it's estimated that PlayStation Plus
had nearly 27million subscribers. The annual subscription cost is around $60,
not including the cost of feature content and credits which can be purchased to
spend on in-game upgrades and to unlock new features. A player may spend multiples
of their annual subscription price on such features.
industry is booming
factors explain why the video game industry has grown to become one of the world's
largest entertainment industries,
generating around $100bn in sales in 2017. While young men are at home playing
games on their PC or dedicate gaming console, millions of commuters on-the-move
are playing games on mobile. According to research by Newzoo, in 2017 mobile games
accounted for 42% of all gaming revenue. Future growth in likely to be supplemented
by new mediums such as Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality. All factors point
to continued investment in the sector and better games and gaming experiences
and dad bear the burden
quality of the entertainment-experience afforded by video games has clearly risen
substantially, as has value-for-money. These factors may be causing many young
men to stay at home and play video games rather than work more. These men often
live at home with their parents and have been shown to marry at lower rates than
their peers. They are, as the authors of the study point out, 'insulated' by mum
and dad from the economic effects of not working.
the decline of young men in the labour force is a good thing or a bad thing is
not clear. Critics argue that it has negative long-term implications for the economy,
although that perspective assumes that jobs are available for young men who are
prepared to work. If jobs are not available, then video games may provide players
with a cost-effective substitute for wellbeing. Unemployment among young men is
associated with health-disorders such as depression and with unhealthy behaviours
such as the consumption of drugs and alcohol and participation in crime.
decline in hours worked may have flow-on impacts for the economy. Young men may
lack the ability to purchase goods
they have traditionally favoured such as cars and houses.
the impact on the economy, one thing is clear. As games continue to increase in
sophistication, and prices continue to remain affordable, players will be attracted
role parents will play in forcing their sons out of their bedrooms remains to