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How Skyrim Could Damage the U.S. Economy (Sorta)

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First we have Wired magazine's Geek Dad mock-fretting that the wonderful time-sink of Skyrim may be hurting the productivity of the American worker and therefore may drag the nation's economy down.

Today, we have Matthew Yglesias, smart writer at Slate providing slightly more serious analysis about what Skyrim's impact on the economy might be.


Good news! He's not serious. Slightly less good news: there are actually two ways Skyrim could mess with America's oh-so-fragile economy.

Yglesias writes:

I see two possibilities:

  • One is of Skryim as a kind of severe demand shock. "This weekend alone," [Wired's Geek Dad] writes "I forgot about two obligations, blew off a dinner and a concert, and purchased no goods or services." Normally people do a lot of different stuff to keep themselves amused. But if a single $56 purchase can keep you fully entertained for a long time, that might result in dramastically reduced demand for goods and services.
  • The other is of Skryim as a supply shock. Maybe the possibility of spending your time playing Skryim has massively increased the value of leisure time, and people will start retiring early, downshifting to part-time jobs, declining freelance assignments, and otherwise avoiding active participation in the labor market in order to play Skryim.

Slate's Yglesias has some ideas about how the government and the free market could respond. To remedy the first issue, America could pivot to an economy that makes the kind of things Skyrim players want (e.g. the manufacturing of comfier gaming chairs!). To remedy the second, well, no, wages would go up, inflation would increase and there's no happy ending.

OK, people. Stop playing Skyrim. America can't afford it if you continue. (Well, it can, but this kind of tongue-in-cheek analysis is fun. Video games matter, you know.)

Modeling a Skryim Shock to the US Economy [Slate]

Why Skyrim Is Horrible for the Economy [Wired]

(Top photo is not of America circa Skyrim; it's a still from the game's live-action commercial.)