Boys and Their Toys – Times Are Changing

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Men have always been fascinated by their toys, be it computers, stereos, fancy watches, power mowers, or remote controls. This list has been expanding gradually as new toys become available and now includes video games. The numbers are mind-boggling – 155 million Americans play video games. This is more than the number who voted in the presidential election last November.

For serious gamers, the definition of heaven must surely be the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3).

E3 was until now not open to the public and only those who are part of the video gaming industry were able to attend. This year however, officials of E3 have decided to open the expo to the public, with a limited number (15,000) full access seats being made available. See this article for full details.

A number of recent studies reveal that more than 40 percent of Americans play at least three hours of video games per week, with a staggering 5 million playing 40 hours per week. Research also reveals that the average young American will now spend the same number of hours playing as that person spent in middle- and high-school classrooms combined by the time he or she turns 21.

Video gaming is however not limited to the younger generation. What used to be a niche activity confined to preadolescents and adolescents a few decades ago has become increasingly popular for all races, genders and ages. Video games has in fact ascended internationally to a scale that rivals sports, film, and television. The one thing all these activities have in common is that they offer an escape.

Statistics show that working-class men in their 20s were working four hours less per week on average and playing video games for three hours compared to the beginning of the millennium. They had in fact replaced the work time lost with playtime spent gaming.

Erik Hurst, a professor at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business is alarmed by what this means for those who chose to play video games and were not working. Hurst cited the dire long-term prospects of these less-employed men and pointed to relative levels of drug use, financial instability and suicide among this group.

In spite of many American having replaced work hours with game play, they have ended up happier.

Gamers have their own fantasies of ­prosperity and these fantasies sometimes come true. Gaming has already become a viable and lucrative profession for a few. The richest competitive gamer is reportedly Saahil Arora, an American college dropout who plays professional Dota 2. Using the name UNiVeRsE, Arora has earned $2.7 million in his career so far.

Arora’s income is however tiny compared to a handful of YouTube stars with a fraction of his talent. By filming themselves playing games in a ridiculously excitable state for a young audience of followers, their income from subscriptions and ads is somewhere in the mid seven figures.

One thing women should however understand is that in spite of men’s preoccupation with their toys, it doesn’t mean that these are the most important things in their life. In his book “Boys and Their Toys“, author Bill Adler Jr. shows what makes men tick and strives to help women grow closer to them in the process.

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