We have a love/hate relationship with video games. There’s no mystery on that front. You can’t go a week without seeing a new report on how video games are corrupting our youth and driving them to some form of angry destruction.
But this blog is actually about the opposite side of that equation: the love side. And for that matter, the not so youthful side.
It just so happens that gaming is on the grow with the over-50 adult set. And in a way, that makes total sense. After all, today’s senior citizens were all fun-loving youngsters when video games were just coming into their own.
Even if today’s elder statesmen gamers weren’t fans from way back when, though, they’re still starting to dig the groovy cool of a bit of button crunching. And they’re getting into the fun for a number of groovy, cool reasons.
NBC News posted an article recently that featured the story of 88-year-old Audrey Buchanan. She loves playing a little Nintendo 3DS game called Animal Crossing: New Leaf, a 2013 game that sets you off on a farming quest in a sunny burg full of talking bunnies, ducks, squirrels and owls. Audrey has reportedly put some 3,500 hours into the game. She says that not only does she love the fun, and the sense that the in-game animal friends are “like company,” but it also helps her connect with her 38-year-old grandson, who’s also into gaming.
If you’re thinking that this particular octogamerian is a rare fluke, you would be wrong. A 2016 study by the American Association of Retired Persons states that 38% of America’s 50-and-older set are currently blending video games into their regular lifestyle. And a good chunk of them are actually playing games online so they can use the fun as a way to connect with others. The NBC News story tells of a 66-year-old guy with the gaming handle “GrndPaGaming” who became pretty popular on the game streaming site Twitch, where some 200,000 subscribers regularly tune in to watch him play.
Oh, and if you want some more positive statistics connected to this older gaming goodness, you need look no further than this article that compiles info from a number of studies. It points out that gamers young and old can gain everything from relief from stress to improved hand-eye coordination, mental flexibility and enhanced spatial memory while they game away.
Of course, I’m not saying that there are no possible downsides to gaming or the sometimes nasty content in games. (I mean, that’s why we review video games and point out said content, after all.) But I am saying that there are plenty of positives here, too, especially for grandmas who want to keep their minds active and find ways to connect with the young ones in their lives. .
NBC News also introduced readers to another gaming granny named Shirley Curry. She’s really into an online Skyrim game called The Elder Scrolls (ironically enough). And she said:
“I know if I wasn’t playing games, I would just be sitting here at home, quilting, reading. It would get boring, and I would get tired and it would probably lead to depression.”
Now, nothing against quilting and reading, but if they’re driving your grandparents to some form of angry depression, then we’d better get them gaming straight away!