No, GTA V isn't going to make us less productive

It's one of the entertainment releases of the year - and already the alarmists are pressing their panic buttons.

This time it's not about the infamous violence of the series, but the amount of customers expected to take off work to play the game. A poll by gaming website IGN showed that 5,059 of 10,995 readers who responded said they'd booked today off to play.

We've heard these sort of complaints before. When Skyrim was released, Dave Banks argued that it would make us less productive. That may be true - but only if you take a very narrow view of output.

The truth is that we don't live to work, we work so that we can have more leisure time. Most of us want as much leisure time as possible, and work is a means to that end.

Revealed preference data tells us the same story. In its first week Skyrim sold seven million copies. GTA V is expected to perform even better. Analysts are expecting 14m copies to be sold in the game's first month, and for it to make $800m to $1bn.

What does that tell us? People really enjoy these games. If they didn't, we wouldn't see them amassing in cities across the world to queue for GTA V's midnight release.

You may not want to spend your time doing the same thing (and I won't be playing the game myself), but for those who have made the decision to take a day off, they consider that the best use of their time. More power to them.

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