Why Do Adult Men Still Play Video Games? Here’s Our Theory

Look, we’ve all got our vices. We all need a means of temporary escape from the big, bad, exhausting world that we live in. I’ve always been curious as to why adult men still play video games as their preferred means of escape and why some insist on playing A LOT of video games well into their 20s, 30s, and even 40s. Why is it mostly males that choose this escape route? Are there any actual benefits to it?

One of my favorite satirical articles written for Reductress: a fake women’s magazine has to be “8 Outfits Perfect For Watching Him Play Video Games All Day” written by comedian Marcia Belsky. It’s so fucking funny because it’s all too real. My college boyfriend spent many, many hours and lots of money on video games. This is a reality for a lot of adult men, so I’m very curious as to why that is.

The Cut’s Gabriel Winslow-Yost has a few theories of his own.

“A video game is a tiny, stupid world. Even in the most sophisticated there are only about five things you can actually do, and it’s usually some mix of killing things and preparing to kill; half the time it feels like you’re staring at some twitching hybrid of a spreadsheet and a snuff film. If you play too long you end up feeling awful — crampy, grit-eyed, obscurely guilty. But the tiny, stupid world of a video game is suffused with meaning, and with clarity. Each one of those five stupid actions was put there, on purpose, for you to do; when you do one of them, you know you were supposed to do it — you’re told that you did it, you’re told if you did it right, and then you’re told to do it again.”

This is a fascinating way to look at it. It’s a comfort to have a complete understanding of how a world works. There’s no sense in trying to make sense in a world where Donald Trump is a Presidential candidate, so why not escape into a simpler world where you can control your fate via your controller?

Video games, apparently, serve as a small comfort to adult men. Yes, I’m generalizing here but clichés are always grounded in some truth. Just as there are dangers with overeating and shopping addiction, such is the case with the very real risk of video game addiction.

So, how many grown adults are actually still gaming? According to The Pew Research Center,

“About one-quarter of all adults (26%) think most video games are a waste of time, while a similar number (24%) do not think this is true of most games. One-third thinks some video games are a waste of time while others are not, and 16% are not sure. Whites (28%), those ages 65 or older (32%), and those with at least a high school diploma (27%) are more likely than others to think most video games are a waste of time.”

So why is it mostly men? Video game programming has taken small strides regarding female representation and even smaller strides regarding the depiction of homosexuality, but they’re working on it.

It’s not all bad. Many researchers and specialists insist that a moderate amount of gaming can help with anxiety and can enhance problem solving skills.

I wouldn’t say that playing video games as an adult is a deal-breaker, as long as it’s a moderate amount. Just like with anything, moderation is key. Cue: Lana Del Rey’s “Video Games.”