During the past decade, stereotypes that video games are only popular with young people have been eroded. Through a report, undertaken by Bond University and the Interactive Games & Entertainment Association, it has become clear that video games are also a popular medium with older adults. The report, Digital Australia 2018, shows that the majority of older gamers believe gaming will improve their thinking skills and help fight dementia as they age.
The Digital Australia 2018 report was the result of a study of 1,234 households and 3,135 individuals. From the study, it was revealed that 43% of over 65-year-old Australian’s now play video and computer games. Making them the largest group of players to adopt the medium over the past six years. The most common reasons why people gameplay, was to relieve boredom and for fun. However, older players also nominated improved thinking skills, followed by coordination, and dexterity as other benefits.
The results of the study showed an overwhelming belief from participants that video games potentially help people age well. Most of the participants, 80%, believe that gaming is useful in fighting off dementia. While 75% believe video games improve life satisfaction and optimistic outlooks on life. Far from being a waste of time, as some people believe, the report showed participants believe gaming can keep their minds active and pass the time in a productive way.
Surprisingly, there has been an increase in women aged 65 and over taking part in gameplay, instead of the historic decline. Nearly half of the participants in the study who said they play video games were female. For women gamers in the 65-and-over-age bracket, the main reason they gave for game play was to fend off dementia. They mentioned it more than men, indicating woman may see the practical applications of gaming more than men.
Game Changing Technology
One of the most significant messages this is sending is that just because you’re older, doesn’t mean you can’t explore and enjoy emerging media and technology. Previously, the number of people playing video games declined with age, especially in the 65-84-age bracket. This is perhaps because of the complexity of games and gaming platforms. However, with easier and more intuitive user interfaces this is no longer a valid factor.
What was once a toy is now a practical tool. The use of games-based technology has even found its way into physical and mental health applications such as Wii Fit and Lumosity. The games that older Australian’s are reportedly playing include Nintendo Wii, Minecraft, Civilisation, AAA titles (online action adventure games), and games on Smartphones and tablets. Some of these are even played to connect with grandchildren, as well as to keep the participant’s brain connections active.
These are significant changes in the world of digital interactive entertainment. Games are transforming as a medium and while they will continue to be played for entertainment, they are progressively serving other purposes. Especially among Australians over the age of 50 who now represent 33% of the population. These results break down the big stereotypes about video games: that only the young play; that video games are for males; and that as you age, game playing declines.