The words ‘digital gaming’ and ‘older adults’ are not often used in the same breath. However, as the world’s population ages, digital gaming has the potential to become a popular way for older adults to play games and engage in social interaction.
An article entitled Can Playing Video Games Help Seniors Age Better? quotes Andrew Sixsmith, professor of gerontology and the scientific director of Age Well, as saying “we shouldn’t assume that older people are technophobes or uninterested in new technologies”. Sixsmith is involved in a new research project that looks at online games for seniors and explores how older adults might benefit from playing digital games.
Along with fostering social engagement, digital gaming may have clinical benefits. One of the finalists in the Gerontological Society of America and Springboard Enterprises Dolphin Tank contest, Project Carbon uses gaming technology to aid individuals with Alzheimer’s.
Last week the Centre for Elder Research was involved in a weeklong competition with the college’s Bachelor of Game Design program. The students were asked to design an Inter-Generational game that may be enjoyed by young and older players at the same time. Considering older adults as potential clients created new possibilities for student designers.
Whether digital gaming is used for social engagement or for clinical benefits, the gaming industry is slowly beginning to focus its attention on the aging population as potential users.