At the rate things are going, unemployment may come close to achieving an all time high score; but along the way it seems to be providing a boost to at least one section of the economy, online games. The LA Times reports that free online gaming has grown as more individuals have been laid off, experiencing 27% more visitors in December. Some sites like Wild Tangent even saw traffic increase 74%!

The increase of more than a quarter is impressive, but the fact that users have increased the time they play online games by 50% is even more telling. Many people simply don't have the time to increase any activity, let alone online gaming, by that much. This leaves losing one's job as one of the most probable explanations for the increase in time spent playing free flash games.

Casual flash games weren't the only gaming diversion to experience a huge influx of users in 2008. Second Life, a popular MMORPG, announced that September was, "unusually good," thanks to users spending 45% more time playing than they had the previous year, and in-game currency experiencing a 4% growth as well. The 4th quarter proved even better for the game which found users spending over 112 million hours in the game!

The increase in online gaming doesn't come as a surprise, who wouldn't want a distraction after losing their job? But there are better ways to spend your time after the initial shock of being sacked wears off. One of the simplest is to start a blog about your situation. Who knows? It may land you a gig writing about what unemployed people do all day like it did for WalletPop blogger Aaron Crowe.

If you feel like contributing to the explosive growth of online games, make sure you're getting the best by checking out DownloadSquad's daily Time Waster posts, which highlight the best free online flash games.


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