Studies of video games often focus on the effect they have on children. But given that the majority of gamers are adults and that we have a growing ageing population, it’s as important to understand the role games play in the lives of older adults. In this study, Allaire and colleagues explored the role digital games played in the lives of the ageing population and examined whether gamers differed in their well-being from non-gamers.
Surveying 140 independently living adults ranging from 63-92 years old (mean age of 77), the authors asked them how often they played any digital games. they next asked individuals to complete surveys to assess their general emotional well-being as well as their cognitive ability.
Although a correlational study (as admitted by the authors), the results are nonetheless insightful. Of the 140 adults, 17% of individuals played games daily, while a further 17% played games at least once a week! This demonstrates that playing digital games are a common pastime even in the ageing population. As expected from previous socioemotional studies, individuals that spent more time playing digital games had a better sense of well-being and reported fewer negative mood states.
Whether it’s playing digital games that increases well-being, or an increased sense of well-being leading to individuals being more likely to play digital games is almost irrelevant. The point is that gaming is a lifestyle choice of many adults, including the elderly. As the gamers of today age, it means that future plans of taking care of the ageing population will need to consider digital games as a means of ensuring everyone’s well-being.
I know attending a retirement villiage would be much more appealing if they had dedicated video gaming rooms and servers that continue to provide options to school both young and elderly n00bs alike!
Allairea, J.C., McLaughlina, A.C., Trujilloa, A., Whitlocka, L.A., LaPortea, L., Gandy, M., 2013. Successful aging through digital games: Socioemotional differences between older adult gamers and Non-gamers. Computers in Human Behavior 29, 1302-1306.
The purpose of this investigation was to examine differences in psychological functioning (e.g., well-being, affect, depression, and social functioning) between older adults who play digital games compared to those older adults that do not play digital games. Analysis was conducted on a sample of 140 independently living older adults with an average age of 77.47 years (SD = 7.31). Participants were divided into three groups (Regular, Occasional Gamers, and Non-gamers) – 60% of the sample was either a Regular or Occasional Gamer. Differences among the groups were found for well-being, negative affect, social functioning, and depression with Regular and Occasional Gamers performing better, on average, than Non-gaming older adults. Findings suggest that playing may serve as a positive activity associated with successful aging.
Here is a link to the journal. Like usual, it is behind a pay-wall so please contact me if you would like more information.