Online games are gaining in popularity every year and not only with the young people. According to Entertainment Software Association, 25 percent of online game enthusiasts are over age 50. They’re playing strategy games, brain training games, word games and even role-playing games. Why do we love online games so much, and is there any benefit to spending time playing them?
One of the reasons we love playing digital and online games is they keep us connected! Family rooms across the nation are equipped with computers and game consoles on which grandparents are battling it out with their grandkids! Whether they’re in the same room or miles apart, users log in to their game systems and meet online to challenge each other in bowling, boxing and tennis. They can even adventure together and explore fascinating virtual worlds in one of many online role-playing games like Guild Wars ll or World of Warcraft.
Train your brain
Michael Scanlon, neuroscience researcher and co-founder of Luminosity, a website dedicated to improving brain function, says that by exercising our brains we can sharpen both visual and mental skills. Luminosity as well as many online developers, design games with older adults in mind, to help them improve cognitive function, sharpen memory and hone problem-solving skills.
Improve strength and coordination
Seniors’ homes are also tapping into the benefits of having interactive game systems in their social settings. Nintendo Wii gets players off the couch to simulate the moves they would use in performing the actual activity. For example, rather than a pair of boxing gloves, players pick up a pair of game-controllers and box against each other while viewing their characters onscreen. Their avatars mirror players’ moves as they compete while having fun exercising! Console games are also helping physiotherapists help their patients rebuild strength and coordination as they recover from injuries or stroke.
Get fit and stay social
Social gaming clubs and fitness centers are attracting seniors that love getting fit to music! Members of the ‘Exergamers Wellness Club’ in Los Angeles dance to their favorite workouts / games together in the gym, store their health information and keep track of their fitness progress all while socializing and having fun.
Workout in your living room
The Wii Fit and Xbox Kinect both offer fitness programs that walk you through routines in the comfort of your own living room. Learn Yoga poses, strength train and even dance your way to a fitter more active you! Track your personal progress, and whether you have a future goal in mind or you are simply enjoying the game, there’s no down side to staying active.
Research in the study of ‘Computers in Human Behavior’ finds that older adults (average age 77) who participate in online gaming daily and occasionally, have higher than average psychological functions, less depression, higher social performance and overall wellbeing than their non-gaming counterparts. It’s possible that these positive findings result from senior gamers being open-minded to new technologies and willing to accept change, we can’t be completely certain. One thing we do know however is that the world of online games is a growing world that all ages may enjoy. Whether we’re challenging our friends, eliminating our opponent or trying to top our own personal best, online games are drawing millions of seniors to their computers every day.
Written by Alice Lucette