Video games – they’re not just for teenagers and millennials anymore. It seems that seniors have been getting in on the fun in the last few years.
Despite the ever-present stigma that older adults don’t understand technology, the market stats point otherwise. These people are going hard and having the time of their life, late in life.
The growing numbers
How many seniors have turned into gamers so far? It isn’t easy to know the exact numbers, but some studies could tell us something about this.
According to Big Fish Games, a quarter of all gamers are older than 50. In addition, AARP’s survey states that more than 10 million Americans over 50 have become active players since 2016.
There have even been cases when seniors organized tournaments to connect with their peers.
What draws the golden-agers to video games?
The main reasons seem to be the desire to stay mentally sharp, fight boredom, and have fun, of course. In addition, some have stated that they started doing it because they can play together with their family members.
Are there any benefits to playing video games?
It may come as a surprise, but it turns out that video games can be good for one’s mental health.
A research paper from the University of Montreal reached such a conclusion. It says how regular gaming decreases cognitive impairment. It isn’t clear whether this can help prevent the development of Alzheimer’s, but it likely can.
Another study followed a group of seniors over the course of six months. The results showed that those who played video games at least five days a week had their gray matter volume in the hippocampus increase.
In case you didn’t know, gray matter is commonly used as a marker for tracking the development of neurological diseases.
After such incredible discoveries, who wouldn’t want to play games?
However, there’s a trick.
A player shouldn’t just stick to a single game. It’s crucial to try new ones every once in a while. Learning to play a new game challenges the brain and provides the most neurological benefits.
Besides working out the brain, video games can be convenient for seniors (or anyone) with disabilities. For instance, a person who uses a wheelchair can experience high levels of excitement with their favorite gaming console.
The unfortunate COVID pandemic has put millions of older adults’ lives at risk. Due to this, many of them couldn’t leave their homes for extended periods.
Video games have proved to be extremely useful in this scenario. They help combat isolation and the detrimental effects that come with it.
What about the downsides?
Video games are widely known to cause addiction. It is a commonly seen problem with younger games, but seniors aren’t immune to it either.
Older adults who’ve been inflicted by addiction would often play games rather than socialize with their family or friends. Also, they may become aggressive towards the game or anxious when anticipating a new release.
One thing that goes hand in hand with long hours of gaming is eye damage. However, it appears that this is less of a problem than people used to think. A McMaster University study concluded that seniors with eye damage didn’t experience further deterioration of their vision.
What are the best games for seniors?
The answer to this question boils down to personal preference. Some folks enjoy old favorites like Solitaire, while others opt for dynamic entertainment systems such as Nintendo Wii.
A study mentioned in the Wall Street Journal claims that War Thunder and World of Warcraft have positive effects on the brains of the elderly population.
Another primary niche is the so-called ‘brain-boosting video games. There are thousands of them available online, and many can be enjoyed for free.
The takeaway for today is that video games do more good than harm in the case of seniors. Their rise in popularity with this particular demographic is increasing and shows no signs of slowing down.
Could video games be the antidote to the ever-growing percentages of neurodegenerative diseases? Only time will tell. But, there’s one thing we know for sure – they’re lots of fun!