For a long time, gaming has been considered a pursuit of the young. Whether you were part of the original generations of growing-up gamers that had an Atari of some kind, or early PCs, whether your parents bought you a NES or a PS1, you were a child gamer. It’s only in recent times though, that we’ve really begun to accept that gamers are getting older.
However, while those in their mid-30s can be considered a common age for a gamer in contemporary society, one group of people that often doesn’t get thought of much when it comes to gaming are the elderly. Now they’re unlikely to be able to sit down and play the latest Call of Duty multiplayer – lets face it, unless your 12 does anyone really stand much of a chance there? – but there are so many games out there, there’s really no reason why those that are getting up there in years shouldn’t be enjoying them too.
I know my grandparents – while they were both alive – never picked up an Xbox controller. We played scrabble, chess, drafts: they liked games, they just didn’t ever even consider getting into video games. Of course the Wii has helped some become more familiar with them as it’s a bit more accessible of a controller scheme, but there really isn’t a reason that the elderly can’t figure out how to drive a car, or build a virtual garden – where my Viva Pinata fans at? – or tower defend, help Professor Layton or point and click their way through an adventure. It just needs someone to introduce them to it, with patience and not accept the old adage of, “oh you go ahead dear, I’ll just watch.”
So they might have arthritic fingers and a dodgy hip and ask you to repeat everything you say two or three times, but there’s gamers in there, I know it.
There’s more to be had through gaming than fun too. They improve reaction times and can stave off alzheimer’s. They challenge the mind and keep huge portions of the brain active – these things are incredibly important the older you get. Depending on the game, they’re good for the body too. According to some research it can help them avoid falls by improving their balance.
However few grandparents are going to pick up a controller or sit down with a mouse and keyboard without a bit of help, so today I charge you KG reader: help an elderly family member or friend understand the fun that they can have gaming. You like to kill time playing games? Don’t you think the retired would like to do the same if they only knew what they were missing?
Something tells me we haven’t seen true completionism until we’ve seen the OAPs in action.