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What to Do in Retirement? Play Video Games

Older Americans are playing more video games and that may be good

By Amy Knapp

Who doesn't remember the thrill of climbing ladder after ladder to save the princess from Donkey Kong or finding the perfect spot for your Tetris piece? But did you know that playing video games could be good for you — especially if you're older than 50?

At least that's the assertion of an article recently published on The Conversation in which Bob De Schutter, a Miami University professor of game design, makes the case that video games aren't just for kids. He refers to literature on the psychological benefits of playing video games, including activating the mind and body while also facilitating social connectedness. "Considering that many older adults suffer from social isolation and age-related decline in cognitive and physical capabilities, playing video games could be a game changer for how we age," De Schutter writes. He also cites numbers showing that adults and teens play games in equal numbers.

In 1999, 9 percent of U.S. gamers were older than 50. By 2015, that number had risen to 27 percent, according to the Entertainment Software Association’s annual reports. Another study shows that gaming is popular among boomers overseas as well — 27 percent of 55- to 64-year-olds in Europe are playing video games. That number will only grow with the booming aging population, De Schutter says. Now it's up to the video gaming industry to figure out how to design meaningful games for older adults, including those with disabilities.

Not even Candy Crush is powerful enough to hold our attention forever.

Amy Knapp was formerly the associate digital editor for Next Avenue. She previously was an editor for InnoVision Health Media's consumer publicationNatural Solutions Magazine.   Read More
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