Were are the men readers?

Since no one seems to have a definitive answer as to why men don’t read as much as they used to, I think I’ll throw in my two cents. No, it’s not television or movies… those things are absolutely terrible, especially lately. It’s not the internet, for the most part, or porn either. The most ridiculous theory I read was it being the fault of a growing middle class.

As a father of two boys, I watched it happen. My sons loved reading books, like the Harry Potter series. Then came the… distraction. Nope, not girls. Video games.

I can only speak as a man, for some men, so here it goes. Video games give men something they crave above all other things, a sense of competition. The power of gaming didn’t take over quickly, it took time and an innovation that transformed all sapient life on Earth. With the internet, men could play together as teams and fight other men. Once online multiplayer games became ubiquitous, male readership numbers tanked, hard.

The men of our species want to compete with each other. It’s built into our DNA. It’s why we work overtime, play sports, associate with professional teams, or wave our nation’s flag. You can’t compete with other men when reading a book.

How do we fix this? We can’t. It’s over for male readers. Yes there will always be a handful of us who read, but stories can’t compete with the excitement, camaraderie, and the subconscious sense of accomplishment that video games provide. Barring some kind of catastrophic event that breaks the internet forever, male readership will never bounce back.

Here’s a bit of fun (read, horrible) news for authors. Women are getting into gaming more and more each year. Their reader numbers will fall as well. The only thing I can imagine bringing a few of them back is lowering the bar. No, not making stories dumber. Make them shorter, like snacks. Men love snacks.

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