The Economist has recently published a piece explaining the link between unemployment and video games. It’s controversial, because it’s not completely clear whether younger people are employed at a younger rate becasue they’re playing video games more often, or if they’re playing video games more often because there aren’t as many jobs out there and so they have more free time.
Between the years 2000 and 2015, the employment rate for 20-something year old guys without college educations has dropped a staggering 10 percentage points. Going into 2000, it was 82%, but in 2015 it had sunk all the way to 72%, and the wages for their jobs have either stayed the same or decreased. For every hour of time this group spent not working, their leisure time rose proportionally, and 75% of that leisure time was spent playing video games. Economists have suggested that due to video games become more complex and more rewarding, along with more affordable overall especially compared to other hobbies and luxury goods, that people are gaining more satisfaction from playing games, thus reducing their motivation to seek satisfaction elsewhere, like having a great job and reaping the rewards of working hard at it.
But it’s not just a matter of games getting better that’s contributing to more employment in this group, it’s also the job market getting worse overall. Wages have been stagnant for the most part since the ’90s for young college grads, and for high school grads the wages have actually been going down in a lot of cases. Also, the jobs just aren’t as worth it as they used to be. For young college grads in the 2000’s, about a third of them were working jobs unrelated to their degrees that didn’t require their schooling at all, but in the 2010s that number rose to nearly 50%.
When you can’t find rewarding full time work, and you’re busting your butt just to try to make end’s meat, especially after racking up a huge college debt, video games offer an escape from the dire reality, especially if you can’t really afford to go out a lot.
Check out the original article for a more in-depth look at what’s happening in the job market and how it’s contributing to the rise in popularity of gaming, and how that could be disastrous moving forward if job prospects don’t start to improve.