A new study suggests that a big why reason men are spending less time working than a decade ago is because of higher quality video games. While the study offers some interesting insights into the choices of working and non-working men in America, the conclusions aren’t quite as solid as one might think.

The study comes by way of a few economists who shared their findings via the National Bureau of Economic research. According to them, American men aged 21 to 30 were working 203 fewer hours a year in 2015 than in 2000. They compared this to the 163 fewer hours worked by American men aged 31 to 55, and set out to determine the reason for the additional 39 fewer hours worked among the younger group.

Their conclusion? Video game quality has improved significantly over the 15 year span, which is pulling more young people into playing games instead of working. The economists discovered that of American men aged 21 to 30, nearly 60 percent of their 2.3 hours of leisure time per day is spent playing video games.

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The challenge with this conclusion is that it seems to assume a cause and effect that could very well be reversed. As other economists have pointed out, advancements in technology and globalization are major factors in the decrease of working time among American men. It’s quite possible that more video game time is a result of more free time among young men in America, and not necessarily the cause of less time worked.

That said, the researchers point to improvements in video game storylines and immersion in MMO and RPG games over the last decade as the reasoning behind more time spent in games. That concept isn’t too surprising, considering the growth and popularity of games like World of Warcraft, that reward players for large amounts of time spent in the game.

Additionally, high quality titles like The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt have helped set new standards in the gaming industry for the quality of RPG titles gamers expect. With longer, more immersive, and highly rated games comes more time spent in them.

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The researchers also point out that young, non-college educated men, who spend more time playing video games than their older counterparts, are happier than other age groups. The economists attribute this happier lifestyle to more time spent playing video games. However, others have contended that the fact that younger people are happier may have less to do with video games and more to do with older people being generally unhappier with their life situations than younger people.

In the end, the study offers an interesting topic of discussion, but likely needs additional studies to solidify the results. Like the many video games and violence studies before it, there’s undoubtedly more information needed before a conclusion can be determined.

Source: National Bureau of Economic Research

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