According to the research firm NPD Group, Vegas casino gaming is more popular than ever. Video game makers earned 27% more in 2020 over 2019 for a total of $56.9 billion. Observers note that much of the boom can be traced to pandemic boredom and the need to find activities to pass the time. In addition, people are looking for safe ways to connect socially and playing video and online casino games offers such an opportunity.
Psychologists and sociologists note that gaming is now a mainstream form of entertainment. Joost van Dreunen, adjust assistant professor at the NYU Stern School of Business says “Historically, game companies targeted only a narrowly defined audience. Van Dreunen, who wrote “One Up: Creativity, Competition, and the Global Business of videogames,” says that “the digitalization of games and the popularization of the smartphone have resulted in a much broader and more diverse audience being interested in interactive entertainment experiences.”
Increasingly, that audience is including older adults. David S. Heineman, associate professor of communication studies at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania and author of “Thinking About videogames: Interviews with Experts” says that gamers’ ages have been skewing older for the past decade.”
“People who are 50 now were kids when the first Atari PONG systems came out and they also played arcade games, so there is a childhood nostalgia associated with videogames,” says Heineman. In addition, there’s been an evolution in the graphics of the games and a shift toward a wider array of stories that appeal to a broader audience than just teenage boys.”
Older gamers may not be as intrigued by many of the first person shooter and role playing games that younger players like but today’s video games also feature task games, mysteries, puzzles and even love stories.
According to an AARP survey , the number of adults aged 50 and over who play digital games grew 20% between 2016 and 2019. The research team at the AARP concluded that "Video games have gone mainstream as [older] gamers find pleasure and functional utility in gaming. Over one-third constantly try new games. With increased access and use, older adults are using gaming to connect socially, stay mentally sharp, reduce stress and just to have fun."
If you’re an adult “of a certain age” and are ready to see what all the excitement is about in the world of gaming, there are a few things that you should do to prepare before you embark on your gaming adventure.
- Make sure that you have good equipment. You don’t have to start out with VR or AR headsets but you should definitely make sure that you have good gaming headphones, keyboard and mouse. Don’t assume that you can enjoy your gaming activities with the same accessories that you use for other online tasks – gaming tools are designed especially for interactions with gaming software.
- Download Steam to your PC. Many of the top video games are available on Steam so you can play via these free downloads. The game developers make their money via in-app purchases so if you decide to buy the extras, that’s where you pay.
But Steam is the best option for beginning gamers. You can also get refunds on Steam for games that you don’t like. Steam makes it user-friendly to try out new games by making it simple to get refunds on games that you decide that you don’t want to keep. If you buy a game and then decide that you don’t like it you can request a refund and use the money to buy another game. This works only if you haven’t played the game for more than 2 hours or owned it for more than 30 days.
- Take care of yourself. As an older adult, it’s more important for you to take steps to protect yourself than it would be for a younger person. Make sure that your chair is comfortable and that it supports your hips and back properly. Use a desk and adjust the height so that you aren’t bending over or stretching while you play. It’s also a good idea to get protective glasses so that you don’t damage your eyes. Be sure to clean the screen of your PC or your console at regular intervals -- wipe down the screen with window cleaner and blow out dust with a hair dryer.
- Use your gaming hobby as a way of interacting socially. There are social media games and streams but if you are playing yourself you might want to get a Reddit account. Reddit hosts gaming communities and you can join a thread and chat about the game that you’re playing, get tips, find out about upgrades discover discounts and deals and find out how other gamers have improved their games.
- Be ready to try new game genres. As we remember from the “olden days” – try it, you’ll like it! You can also try new mods that turn a game into something completely new. Mods allow you to add new characters or a new storyline to a game so you can continue playing a game that you already discovered that you like but enjoy it in a new form.
- Have an online “garage sale” and sell your old games. Then, use the money and buy some new games. If you like to keep your games, go ahead. But if you prefer to move onward without breaking the bank, sell the old games.
Tips for Older Gamsters
Some things that older gamers might not be aware of include:
- Make sure that the game that you want to buy is compatible with your platform. Some games can be played online or via multiple consoles but others are available only on specific platforms.
- Keep your characters moving forward. In video games, scenes are typically interspersed with gaming sequences. That’s how the story advances. You move your character when the action stops. If you need a prompt, check out the arrows that will point you in a specific direction or for something to happen to an object (door opens, object smashes, enemy shoots etc)
- Research a game before you buy it. The title doesn’t always prepare you for the reality of the game. For instance, a game called “The Last of Us” is about zombies. If you like zombie stories, great. But if you don’t like such storylines you should know that that’s the plot before you spend your money on the game.
- Check out adaptive devices that can help you if you have a condition (arthritis, etc) that makes it difficult to manipulate the mouse or controller. Ablegamers.org is a nonprofit charity that offers ideas for adaptive game devices.