Gaming and work: what’s the real story?

I write a lot about new technologies and how they affect people’s lives, and their working lives in particular. Recently I’ve been mulling over a question some economists have raised: do better video games explain why men (and young men especially) are not working as much as they used to? I don’t know the answer (yet) but I’m trying to work it out.

One common response to this question is to dismiss people who game rather than take paid work as lazy and short-sighted, and who regret their choices later. While that probably describes some people, I reckon others have a different experience. When satisfying, good-paying work is hard to find, gaming might seem challenging and rewarding, as well as offering an opportunity to meet others with similar interests. Gaming might give a sense of purpose and cooperative achievement that used to be common, but aren’t anymore.

I’d like to find out, by talking to people who have made these sorts of decisions. I want to hear from people who have spent time gaming while looking for work, or after losing a job, or in their breaks from unfulfilling jobs. I want to learn about how people choose to split their time between looking for work and taking breaks to play games, and how that decision feels later.

If you’re up for chatting — off the record, or (for purposes of publication) under a different name — I’d love to hear from you. You can respond here or email me at ryanavent (at) economist (dot) com.

UPDATE: Thanks to everyone who got in touch and shared their thoughts! I’ll share the piece here when it is complete.

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