Despite the common theory that computer games are specifically for children and teenagers, elderly gaming is most definitely on the rise.
It’s not just the board games and classics you’d expect either (though we can’t deny they’re a guilty pleasure!) More and more elderly people are picking up their controllers, along with their iPads and mobiles, to play the latest computer games. There are many reasons behind the influx of ‘silver gamers’ and this post will takes a look at the reasons why gaming is a good hobby for the elderly.
Elderly Gaming – Statistics and Benefits
The number of people over the age of 55 who play computer games is on the rise, and has been for the last few years. Back in 2016, it was reported that one in four people of this age and over had a games console in their home, with the majority not having any children living at the home.
The creators of Bejewelled did their own research and found that of their estimated 150 million consumers, 71% of players were older than 40. Meanwhile, 47% of their players were over the age of 50.
There are a growing number of online groups and forums dedicated solely to the more experienced gamers amongst us, including the Senior Gamers forum which is dedicated to discussing different tastes and opinions of popular games.
So elderly gaming has become very popular and it actually turns out the benefits of computer games for the elderly could potentially be life-changing. Various studies and tests have been carried out across the world to try and prove these theories.
One study suggested that 3D computer games can help prevent memory loss. Volunteers underwent memory tests before and after a two-week period of playing video games for half an hour, every day. The research discovered volunteers playing the game Super Mario 3D improved their memory in tests by roughly 12%, close to the amount it decreases between the ages of 45 and 70.
It is thought that 3D video games stimulate the hippocampus, the part of our brain vital to memory. This part reduces as we get older and is damaged by degenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Dementia. Hand-eye coordination and reactions times can also be improved by playing computer games – attributes that may begin to weaken as you get older.
Donald Smith – Silver Gamer
Of course, one of the main reasons that the elderly play games is simply for fun and entertainment – just as it is for the younger gamers. Not only this, but it is a great was of socialising with friends, along with making new ones from around the world.
Donald Smith, 79, is a regular gamer and has been playing for many years now. He said:
“I enjoy playing my computer games, they are the best form of entertainment especially as there’s a lot of rubbish on TV nowadays. I have played computer games like Call of Duty, but I now enjoy playing a Facebook game called Lexulous, which is basically Scrabble. With Lexulous, you can play with friends, select random opponents or let them select you. They can be from anywhere in the world, & I regularly play against opponents in the USA, although the time difference can be challenging.”
Mr Smith went on to say that he feels like the games he plays help to “stimulate the brain” and that he feels they are great for people of all ages – not just teenagers.
Gaming is a great way for the elderly to avoid feeling lonely. They can be a member of a social club or an online community and talk to people who share their interests. Being a gamer can help to boost your social network.
Elderly Gaming Picks – On your phone
Lexulous is Mr Smith’s favourite game at the moment. As mentioned, it is a word-puzzle game which is based on the classic game of scrabble. You can download this game from the Apple Store, Android Store and through Facebook. Or, of course, for the more traditional amongst us, you could just pick up a physical copy of Scrabble in any local store and give it a go with your friends and family!
With the digital version, there’s the added benefit of being able to challenge your brain and give it a workout against the computer, friends or other players from around the world, so you don’t need to bribe the grandkids into sitting down with you! On the 15×15 playing board all you have to do is find the best words and score the most points.
As we’ve already discussed in this post, 3D platform games such as Super Mario 64 have been found to help stave off mild cognitive impairment. They can even help in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease.
Elderly Gaming Picks – On consoles
Call of Duty is another one of our picks. This game series has broken records and has become an industry favourite on both games consoles and computers. There are so many Call of Duty games to choose from. However they all have the same challenging missions and playing style.
Strategy and tactics are vital in Call of Duty, along with reaction times. This can be a brilliant workout for an elderly gamer’s mind. Online play is the most popular feature of this game, which means you can play with your friends and make new ones.
We would also suggest movement games such as Wii Sports on the Nintendo Wii. With the use of a clever camera and movement system these games allow the gamer to become part of the game. The games include sports such as football, bowling, golf, tennis, table tennis and boxing. To play you actually get into the position you would if you were playing for real. For example, when playing golf you get into the position you would if you were on the golf course and swing your arms to hit the ball.
Our favourite is the boxing mode – where you literally get to throw punches and shield yourself from the opponent. Again, this is a great sociable game which can be played with friends or the computer.