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Video Games – Good For People Without Jobs or Not


Losing a job can be one of the most devastating experiences a person could have. This is especially true for people who are living paycheck to paycheck. It affects people’s psychological well-being, causing depression and anxiety. Also, it makes people feel unworthy because they’re not valuable enough to the company their working for to help keep their job.

It can be a horrendous feeling and one way that people deal with this is to have a coping mechanism. This will ensure they won’t further go into depression. One such coping mechanism is playing video games. Video games benefits people, helping them relax, unwind, and destress.

It’s something that many people do after a tiring day at work to help relax and be reenergized to be ready the next day for the grind. But is the same effects still applicable to people who have experienced job loss? Is playing video games good for the well-being of the unemployed? Let’s discuss this further in this article.

What The Research Is All About

Professor Yu-Hao Lee, an associate professor at the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communication, and doctorate student Mo Chen conducted the research. The two wanted to find out how unemployed people were using video games to cope with the stress and anxiety brought about by unemployment.

They were particularly looking during the period of COVID-19 when stress levels for many people are at an extreme high. The research came out to see how much playing video games, as a way to recover and escape from the reality, affects the unemployed’s well-being.

Person playing video game using a controller
Image by Olya Adamovich from Pixabay

They wanted to determine to what extent a video game affects a person’s well-being. Do they need to play for extended periods? Do their age and gender have an impact, and so on.

The Results of The Research

The results of the study showed an interesting finding. What the researchers saw was that unemployed people use video games either to regain some sense of control or as a way to escape. When you’re let go from your job, it’s always out of your control.

This means that there’s little to nothing you could have done to change the outcome. So, playing video games provides the unemployed with a sense of being in control.

When people play games, they have a sense of independence. They also feel competent, and confident in themselves, which is likely something they feel were lacking while they’re unemployed. Games also allowed the unemployed to be connected to others.

But it was the independence and competence that they felt was the reason for playing video games. This shows that playing games do improve the well-being of unemployed people.

What Are the Downsides?

Of course, this wouldn’t be complete research if the researchers didn’t provide a downside to playing video games. And the downside is using it as a way to escape reality. Using games as escapism doesn’t benefit the unemployed person. On the contrary, it may only make them feel worse, especially for playing the game.

Results and outcome in direction
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

The researchers noted that the increased gaming time is for people who uses games as escapism. So, people who tend to play longer are usually just trying to escape from their reality. And that length of time playing contributes to their feeling more anguish for playing games while they’re in a dire situation.

The Limitations of the Research

As compelling as the research sounds, the researchers noted a limitation, and that is through the participants of the study. They only used online recruitment for the participants, which shows that it is not a representative of all unemployed people in the U.S. Participants moves more towards those who are more experienced and adept at using the internet.

Bottom Line

This shows that not all unemployed people who play video games benefit from it. Instead of having better well-being, games make it worst. And this is tied mostly to their reasons for playing video games. If the unemployed person plays video games to feel independent and competent, then video games are helping his/her well-being.

It is improving it, making it likely for them not to give in to despair and bounce back from the devastating situation. But if a person uses the game to escape from his/her reality, then it is not helping them one bit.

It is only making things worse, by making them feel bad, especially for playing games despite their dire situation. Of course, the research has its limitations, but it is still an interesting study showing the pros and cons that video games have for people who experienced job loss.

It is also a good starting point for future studies where more participants and data. This will allow researchers to come up with better and more conclusive findings.