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Todd Suomela

Young Men Are Playing Video Games Instead of Getting Jobs. That's OK. (For Now.) - Reas... - 0 views

  • Video games, like work, are basically a series of quests comprised of mundane and repetitive tasks: Receive an assignment, travel to a location, overcome some obstacles, perform some sort of search, pick up an item, and then deliver it in exchange for a reward—and, usually, another quest, which starts the cycle all over again. You are not playing the game so much as following its orders. The game is your boss; to succeed, you have to do what it says.
  • Instead of working, they are playing video games. About three quarters of the increase in leisure time among men since 2000 has gone to gaming. Total time spent on computers, including game consoles, has nearly doubled.

    You might think that this would be demoralizing. A life spent unemployed, living at home, without romantic prospects, playing digital time wasters does not sound particularly appealing on its face.

    Yet this group reports far higher levels of overall happiness than low-skilled young men from the turn of the 21st century. In contrast, self-reported happiness for older workers without college degrees fell during the same period. For low-skilled young women and men with college degrees, it stayed basically the same. A significant part of the difference comes down to what Hurst has called "innovations in leisure computer activities for young men."

    The problems come later.

    A young life spent playing video games can lead to a middle age without marketable skills or connections. "There is some evidence," Hurst pointed out, "that these young, lower-skilled men who are happy in their 20s become much less happy in their 30s or 40s." So are these guys just wasting their lives, frittering away their time on anti-social activities?

    Hurst describes his figures as "staggering" and "shocking"—a seismic shift in the relationship of young men to work. "Men in their 20s historically are a group with a strong attachment to the labor force," he writes. "The decline in employment rates for low-skilled men in their 20s was larger than it was for all other sex, age, and skill groups during this same time period."

    But there's another way to think about the change: as a shift in their relationship to unemployment. Research has consistently found that long-term unemployment is one of the most dispiriting things that can happen to a person. Happiness levels tank and never recover. One 2010 study by a group of German researchers suggests that it's worse, over time, for life satisfaction than even the death of a spouse. What video games appear to do is ease the psychic pain of joblessness—and to do it in a way that is, if not permanent, at least long-lasting.

    For low-skilled young men, what is the alternative to playing games? We might like to imagine that they would all become sociable and highly productive members of society, but that is not necessarily the case.

  • A military shooter might offer a simulation of being a crack special forces soldier. A racing game might simulate learning to handle a performance sports car. A sci-fi role-playing game might simulate becoming an effective leader of a massive space colonization effort. But what you're really doing is training yourself to effectively identify on-screen visual cues and twitch your thumb at the right moment. You're learning to handle a controller, not a gun or a race car. You're learning to manage a game's hidden stats system, not a space station. A game provides the sensation of mastery without the actual ability.

    "It's a simulation of being an expert," Wolpaw says. "It's a way to fulfill a fantasy." That fantasy, ultimately, is one of work, purpose, and social and professional success.

jatolbert

Open Stacks: Making DH Labor Visible ← dh+lib - 1 views

  • When infrastructure is understood as an irrational social formation, emotional labor tends to compensate for a perceived lack of resources. Scholars who are used to the invisibility of traditional library services, for instance, find that digital projects expose hierarchies and bureaucracies that they don’t want to negotiate or even think about, and the DH librarian or one of her colleagues steps in to run interference. Why can’t the dean of libraries just tell that department to create the metadata for my project? After all, they already create metadata for the library’s systems. Why can’t web programming be a service you provide to me like interlibrary loan? I thought the library was here to support my scholarship. Why can’t you maintain my website after I retire–exactly the way it looks and feels today, plus update it as technology changes? In some conversations, these questions may be rhetorical; it may take emotional labor to answer them, but doing so exposes the workings of the library’s infrastructure–its social stack.
    • jatolbert
       
      More conflation of DH with all digital scholarship
  • How does DH fit within this megastructure? According to some critics, DH is part of the problem of the neoliberal university because it privileges networked, collaborative scholarship over individual production. If creating a tool (hacking) or using computational methods has the same scholarly significance as writing a monograph, then individualized knowledge pursued for its own sake, the struggle at the heart of humanistic inquiry, is devalued. Yet writing a book always depended on invisible (gendered) labor in the academy. Word processing, library automation, and widespread digitization are just three examples of the support labor for traditional scholarly work that Bratton’s globalized technology Stack has absorbed. (And we know that the fruits of that labor are in no way distributed equitably.) What has changed in the neoliberal university is that the humanities scholar becomes one more node in a knowledge-producing system. Does it matter, then, whether DH work produces ideas or things, critics say, if all are absorbed into a totalizing system that elides the individual scholar’s privileged position? This is of course a vision of scholarship that is traditionally specific to the humanities; lab science and the performing arts, for example, have always been deeply collaborative (but with their own systems of privilege and credit).
  • DH librarians, whose highly collaborative work is dedicated to social justice and public engagement, may be one particularly vital community of practice for exposing the changing conditions that create knowledge.
  • ...7 more annotations...
  • like the fish who asks “what is water?”–most scholars are unaware of the extent to which their work, professional interactions, and finances are imbricated with the global technology Stack.
    • jatolbert
       
      Also not sure that this is true.
  • Many DH programs, initiatives, and teams have arisen organically out of social connections rather than centralized planning.
  • the myth of scarcity
  • Scholars often presume that because libraries acquire, shelve, and preserve the print books that they write, that the same libraries will acquire, shelve (or host), and preserve digital projects.
    • jatolbert
       
      This is a natural assumption, and in fact is true in many cases.
  • digital scholarship
  • DH
  • digital scholarship
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