Stop Playing Video Games! Get A Job! Get Married! Be A Man!

Stop Playing Video Games! Get A Job! Get Married! Be A Man!

Look, I’d just as soon avoid getting too heated up about this latest mainstream diss on video games. But CNN’s William Bennett has forced my hand, penning a new article about the decline of the American male titled “Why men are in trouble.” Leading the article is a stock image of a gray-flecked adult holding up a PS3 controller, presumably to show it to someone in the room. Because no one actually holds a controller like that.

In the piece, Bennett (who was US Secretary of Education under Reagan) says that women are claiming a growing percentage of the job market, and are outpacing men earning university degrees and improving their salaries. (Let’s leave aside the fact that the findings are relative and track changes from 1970 to 2006, where much of the change was due to women finally righting the scales after decades of imbalance in pay and educational opportunities.)

Halfway through the article comes the money quote. When pondering man’s response to our presumed decline, Bennett says the following:

Man’s response has been pathetic. Today, 18-to- 34-year-old men spend more time playing video games a day than 12-to- 17-year-old boys. While women are graduating college and finding good jobs, too many men are not going to work, not getting married and not raising families. Women are beginning to take the place of men in many ways. This has led some to ask: do we even need men?

For starters, “Man’s response?” He says it as though we’re organised! Men aren’t activating the secret emergency network or calling late-night Man-Club meetings. We don’t have a phone-tree. We’re way too busy playing video games to organise that kind of thing. Also, we are busy enjoying the company of women and not plotting against them.

Anyway. Once again, we’ve got an unfair and lazy maligning of video games based on the assumption that they are only proper entertainment for children, and that grown-ups should, presumably, only watch TV and read books. As to that final question, anyone who has ever read Y: The Last Man can say with certainty, “Yes! We do need men! Seriously, otherwise shit gets crazy.”

The Founding Fathers believed, and the evidence still shows, that industriousness, marriage and religion are a very important basis for male empowerment and achievement. We may need to say to a number of our twenty-something men, “Get off the video games five hours a day, get yourself together, get a challenging job and get married.” It’s time for men to man up.

Sigh. I’m all for encouraging people so step up and get a job (Look ma, I’m blogging), but can we leave the cheap video game slams out of it? I get that it’s an easy shortcut to illustrating the kind of social maladjustment that the article describes, but it’s just so lazy. Furthermore, abstractly invoking video games does little to actually illustrate Bennett’s broader point, which may very well be something worth talking about. All I get from this is “These numbers say that men play video games, so of course that is part of the problem here.” Specific examples, please!

Hrmph. Maybe Bennett should just stick to going on talk radio and saying that if we were to abort all black babies it would lower the crime rate.

Why Men Are in Trouble [CNN]

Top photo: Sanzhar Murzin/Shutterstock

Comments

  • I play games. A lot. At my full time job at the moment and I had a wife and two kids when I left the house I own this morning. So not too sure where this guy is coming from.

    • Hahaaaaa! Touché to you, sir! 🙂 That this chap was part of the Regan administration really sums it all up, right?

    • Same. I’m married with one kid, am paying off a mortgage, and am writign this from my desk at my full time job, which I put a lot of hours into.

      I still play lots of video games.

      Bad article is bad?

    • Yep. I’m married, I have a degree, I have a job *looks down pants* and I’m a man. And I play videogames.

      • You can make this response only after the guy who wrote the completely bullshit article shows some data on how video games are the devil.

        His old boss has a much higher likelihood of being The Worst Thing that happened to humanity in the last 50 years than video games.

  • I’m 37, not married, not religious, no kids and my favorite pastime is gaming… I’m also one of the happiest guys I know. Just thought I’d throw that out there 😉 Viva la independence, fellas!

  • “Stop Playing Video Games! Get A Job! Get Married! Be A Man!” in other words be a miserable corporate slave like the rest of us.

  • I know what’ll upset Bennett even more – I’m 30 years old, in a defacto relationship with neither of us having any plans for children! Or marriage! I play videogames and read comics! I also work 40 hours a week in a well paid job, I’m educated, qualified, and most of all, happier than a lot of people I know who are married and/or have kids.

    Pish to your theories, good sir. Pish.

  • Men, stop wasting your time playing those damn videogames. You should all spend your spare time watching television instead, because thats what the rest of the adults do when they are not at work! Silly videogames.

  • Im 30, have a wife and a kid. I game about 10-20 hours a week…

    I also have a good full time job and I have an MBA…

    So im married, have a family,
    im edu-ma-cated and employed…

    what was your point again?

  • For the last two afternoons I have been grinding my way to the Demon’s Souls platinum, before Dark Souls comes out. Tonight should be my night (fingers crossed). In total around 12 hours gameplay.

    I am also happily married to a beautiful woman, whom I’ve been with since high school (I’m 28). I have a one year old son, own my own home and have a full time job of 40+ hours per week.

    William Bennett can eat shit and die. He has absolutely no fucking clue what he’s talking about and obviously has some issue with woman, blaming video games (the scape goat of today’s problems) just like every other wanker with an opinion worth shit all.

  • Married? Check.
    Children? Check.
    Mortgage? Check.
    Full-time job? Check.
    (Corporate wage slave? Check.)
    Second, unpaid, passion job? Check.
    Video gamer? Check.

    Hmm, guess I’ve got some growing up to do.

    • You need your..
      Knives. Check
      Rope. Check
      Dagger. Check
      Chains. Check
      Rocks. Check
      Laser beams. Check
      Acid. Check
      Body bag. Check

      Sorry, I had to

      • Murmaider
        Murmaider
        Murmaider
        Murmaider
        Murmaider
        Murmaider

        Dethklok rules. Awesome comment I had to reply made me lol 🙂

        On subject, Currently on disability due to mental health problems but finally found the right medication and going to Tafe next year with plans to start my own business.

        Game alot, Engaged, have an almost 3 year old son and both my wife and son game with me.

        Anyway what is a “man” someone who works all day? Someone who has no fun? Hell work is important to support your family and I will be as soon as i am mentally able but why can’t a “man” play games and enjoy his family and not be a working class zombie like most of the sad saps i see going to work who think work is everything and constantly have a depressed look on their face but a big bank account, because they don’t want to fun because fun is bad and you are seen as less of a man. It’s pathetic.

        Stupid guy is stupid, have a job but have fun too and be whatever man you bloody well want to.

  • This is probably dumbest because it tries to link gaming as the problem – and yet he specifies two other key facts:

    A) higher participation of women in higher education and the workforce
    B) marriage and raising a family as key indicators of manhood

    Given that the majority of the world won’t let men marry men, perhaps a more significant contributor to the lack of marriage and babies is that women also are doing other things with their time?

    Or, given the country the article originates from, the horrendous state of the US job market?

    As a full time employee gamer woman, with a full time employee fiance, gaming is a significantly more fun and economical form of entertainment than marriage and babies.

    • You need to stop gaming and start enjoying having more babies.

      And not in a ‘Harvest Moon’ lets-make-a-baby-to-help-with-the-chores kind of way…
      more a ‘Monster Rancher’ keep-pushing-them-out-till-they-grow-up-and-combine type of way.

  • The only thing that his view represents is a corporate economy based around productivity and the bottom line. A viewpoint that I have nothing but contempt for.

    My wife and I are very happy together. She’s 23, I’m 25, and we’ve been happily married for 3 and a half years. Thus far we’ve resisted our socially and biologically programmed urges to have kids, and pressures from our relative families, because we’d much rather have fun being young together.

    As for religion being a cornerstone? That’s not a rant that this anti-theist is going to get into on Kotaku…

    • simple – it conditions you to doing what you are told by a “higher party”, be it boss, the state, or what ever spaghetti cult you belong to. Hell – even Fox commentators telling you how you are “doing it wrong”

      Once you stop questioning that which surrounds and your existence, happiness is immediately forthcoming.

      Ignorance is Bliss anyone?

  • I’m married, work 9-5 and I play video games as my main past time. But so does my wife and son. We play together!

  • I’ll join the chorus of my above commentators and also confirm the following:
    – I game up to 20hrs a week
    – I have a full time, high paying job
    – I have a uni degree, with no HECS debt because I paid it off with the money i earn from my job
    – I own a house
    – Single, but dating again.

    I’m not sure who he is describing, but its not me or my friends…

  • I also noticed his implication that women are successful because the men have been slacking off. Nice modern perspective there douchestick – why are we caring what this guy thinks again?

  • Oh, an unprofessional hissy-fit giving attention to a guy who clearly doesn’t deserve it?
    Fantastic.
    Wish I hadn’t clicked this link.

  • Religion. Hmm going to church every sunday seems like just a much of a waste of time as video games.

    Marriage, What’s the point these days most of them don’t last.

    It seems like what he’s really saying is that hey you have freedom, no bad men, Go and get a wife that in today’s age has a high chance of leaving you.

    Have kid’s so they can waste your time by making you an unpaid taxi driver.

    As for get a challenging job, Buddy i’d take a bloody job right now. It seems no one want’s to hire me while i’m at university, video games or not

  • Kotaku AU wasn’t loading for me earlier so I already posted on the US version of this article, but I feel like sharing my thoughts here – though I’ll alter it to remove some of my swearing.

    Like I said when I reposted this travesty of an article (the CCN article, that is) on Twitter, when men would rather play video games than raise a family, why do women ask “do we need men?” and never “why don’t men need us?”. People put forth the relevancy of men argument like it’s going to matter to anyone, and spur men into action lest they be shamed as, what? Willing to recognise women as equals? This seems to assume we shouldn’t be already.

    If men were working hard specifically to maintain their dominance in the workforce and the education they’d be called misogynists by the same people who are telling them to grow up now.

    Women have been working hard to bridge a gap but still complain they never get the top jobs, get paid less for doing the same work, etc. The thing about having a large market share is that there is less room for growth. Why are “men” losing ground to “women”? Because we should be! It has nothing to do with gaming habits! Besides which, haven’t recent studies shown that females play just as many games and spend an equivalent time playing as males anyway?

    Man, I put in my 40 hours, bring home a decent wage to support myself and my wife and we play video games – often together. I don’t have a degree – I never finished university. But I’m ambitious, and hard work has me in a job alongside people with law degrees.

    I’m nearly 29, and gaming is my sole leisure activity. What else am I supposed to be doing? Working overtime? Curing cancer? I really don’t give a shit if some twerp blogging about society thinks I’m not good enough.

  • Woah woah woah. He seriously wrote that between 1970 and 2006 women’s earnings grew? He’s blaming this fact on videogames and not that the fact that women we’re socially suppressed?

    • yep. It also sounds like a bizarre competition. “Hey men! Those womens are actually earning money! We have to show our dominance!”

      Ridiculous.

  • To Be a man)
    We must be swift as the coursing river
    (To Be a man)
    With all the force of a great typhoon
    (To Be a man)
    With all the strength of a raging fire
    Mysterious as the dark side of the moon

    Time is racing toward us till the Huns arrive
    Heed my every order and you might survive
    You’re unsuited for the rage of war
    So pack up, go home, you’re through
    How could I make a man out of you?

  • On the flipside of that coin all those “go-getting, business/money focused” types out there (which he would probably pat on the back and want to play a round of gold with) are what led to all the financial industry crashes across the globe; banks that have destroyed the economy of entire countries and their people, but still make a profit for the bankers.

    The majority of environmental issues facing the world, both long and short term, can be aimed squarely at expanding corporate greed/power/money. The current state of the exploding lower-middle & lower classes (outdated I know, but the closest point of reference) across the 1st & 3rd world; those can all be laid at the feet of the type of men who put the pursuit of power and money as their major goal.

    Or you end up being some poor schmuck working for them, grinding away your limited time on the earth just to keep up.

    While I am glossing over the grey areas, I am just pointing out the same extreme that this Bennett twat is, but on the flipside.

    I’d prefer there were more gamers in the world than; bankers, corporate executives, oligarchs, financial traders, etc.
    It’d be better if there were less mouthy, opinionated TV celebs/pseudo politicians that are bigoted, racist, sexist, and staunchly uphold out-dated and ill-informed catholic idiocy, like Bennett.

    /rant

    Well… that turned into a spiel without me realising.

  • Married? Nope.
    Children? Nope.
    Mortgage? Nope.
    Full-time job? Yep.
    Video gamer? FUCK YES.

    I work hard, I pay my rent, I have a close circle of friends, and god-damned it when I get home on a wednesday night I take it upon me to play the SHIT out of videogames ’till 10:30 at night! Hell, I even play for hours on end *with my real life friends*, HOLY SHIT stand back!

    Some people are just… dicks.

  • “Hi Kirk, here’s a reality check! I’m 28, married and am a Major Accounts Manager responsible for key projects relating to the NBN fibre optic roll-out… my spare time? I GAME.”

  • “Hi Kirk, here’s a reality check! I’m 28, married and am a Major Accounts Manager responsible for key projects relating to the NBN fibre optic roll-out… my spare time? I GAME.”

  • This gamer has a family and a job, and an honours degree in physics.

    No mortgage. Paid that crap off already. Ready for the investment property.

    Oh, I don’t believe in the baby Jesus and his message of hope and love, but I do fear fundie Christian octagenarians. Someone should make a movie about that actually.

  • Agreed with Matthew K: women deserve as much equality as they want, and greater participation/pay/education is only to be expected.

    What if I go home and instead of watching DA FOOTEEE I watch Starcraft 2 ladder and tournament commentary?

  • As a female gamer, housewife, full time worker and also post grad student i pretty much agree with all the comments above.

    Mr Bennet – please stop being scared of young people, be they men and women, who can multi task at life and still have fun.

    Oh and Mama Mary and my homeboy Jesus are my co-op buddies on Gears of War – they also think you stink, bro.

  • They love to start these generational battles and look down upon anything that disrespects traditions from an earlier time. Apparently we aren’t allowed to live in our time anymore.

    Most men don’t get married younger because they’ve seen older generations suffer and produce high divorce rates (making kids suffer), so ofcourse we’re going to cautious, we’re learning from your mistakes.

    Regardless of what men do to entertain themselves, whether it’s videogames or movies, it doesn’t matter in this argument. Not when an old man looks down at the young of today and defines them based on societies expectations from the 1960s. You’re called a baby boomer for a reason buddy, who pays this person to write/speak?

  • Another me too here. I run my own business, working 50-60 hours/week while raising 2 children. Guess what, I still find time for 10-20 hrs of gaming each week.

    Should I devote that time to watching ads on television instead?

  • I just assumed this was more Fox Network alarmist rubbish… then I realised it was CNN. Must be a slow news week then.

  • More women getting degrees and higher salaries is obviously unacceptable. Time for you man-boys to put down the Pacmans and turn us back into docile housewives, as it should be.

  • I finished University less than a year ago and I have had two jobs since.

    Both full time; both related to videogaming.

    First was as a concept designer/community manager for a web-based game and the second is as a content writer for GamePlayer.com.au

    And the kicker? I studied Creative Writing. So yeah, videogames basically game me the prerequisite experience for both my jobs.

  • Meh.

    I’m a grown up with funtioning brain.
    The opinions of me held by another person don’t bother me.

  • Douchebag money chasers like this guy end up ignoring their kids and cheating on their wives anyway.

    Also: 28, married, kid, full time job blah, blah.

  • OK, I’ll trend:

    Married, full-time job, rent’s paid, bills up to date and have a beautiful family of… cats and ferrets (don’t judge me!!!)

    My wife and I were actually discussing our dynamic last night. We both game prolifically. It’s part of who we are. Why should we sacrifice a seemingly “juvenile” hobby for the sake of seeming more adult to people like him?

    Why you judge, crotchety old American man?

  • Didn’t read the whole thing but what I got from it was:
    “marriage and religion are a very important basis for male empowerment and achievement.”

    Wonder how much gamerscore that’s worth.

  • Not gonna add to what’s already been said: this reads like an anachronistic rant about the social progress of the last few decades.

    Not to mention his bizarre obsession with men as the 50s archetype: religious, married, industrious, moralistic and conservative. Masculinity doesn’t have one definition and to say it should – let alone to associate it with religion and stereotypes of alpha-male providers – is absurd.

  • These replies need some balance. For a start, can I join in on the religion bashing, it’s not like Kotaku needs less of it!

    Also I must be pretty disappointing too.

    24
    never had a full time job, student
    not married, no family
    rent a home
    playing games is the only thing I enjoy

    I must be the pure vision of Manliness. An Adonis, god-like Aryan figure.

  • William Bennet’s rant needs a catchy 50’s advertising tune to tie in with his old fashioned views. Don’t worry old man, you can rant all you like in the nursing home.

  • “I saw a drug dealer playing video games once, therefor all gamers are drug dealers”

    Same logic a this douche.

  • Also i am 18, single, working a full time job and have been since I was 16. I have worked for the government and now have a job earning just under 40k. Not alot by today’s standards but considering my age and education level, I think it’s pretty good.

    I also game 20+ hours a week and dj in my spare time. Seriously, who Is this article about? I hate conservatives.

  • I’m 28, no marriage, no mortage, no kids, no home, no degree, no job and guess what? gamed for four hours today in a strange country for AUD$6 – I practically exude mahismo.

  • I gave up the game, got married, had a child… If it weren’t for my son I would say I just got scammed. I mean, she’s happy… Has a nice car, a nice house, and we don’t need for much. However, like I said, if it weren’t for my son I would be gone. Marriage isn’t for everyone, but it’s absolutely geared toward the happiness of “home” which is something most men don’t give a second thought. I say let the women take over. I would love to sit back and watch them begin to act just like men did when we were in control and way out of line as far as oppression. I see it this way, a woman is always going to complain about what a man isn’t doing right so at least do what you want to do if you’re going to have to listen to it anyway. If you are not rich with a prenump, you’re in for a long life of complaints so just plug in and play. Women are smarter than men if you look at society as a whole right? So I say, sit back, let them take over and work 70 hours a week, make mIllions a year to have life like they want it, and when they need their brakes changed, a tv hooked up, a leaky pipe under the house fixed(with all those spiders) just know that some guy out there just got lucky.
    P.S. I’m just kidding. Just trying to make a point. Don’t be so hard to live with, and these statistics won’t happen. Because you CAN NOT complain to change statistics the way you want them.

  • Hi, I’m 31 and I still play video games, it is my favorite pass time, I do not drink, smoke or do drugs, I am married, I am a father, dog owner and marathon runner. I’m happy that more women are getting more diplomas and good jobs than men are, at least that way they make a lot of money and they can shopping instead of writing shitty articles.

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