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Video games offer older adults both physical and mental exercise

This "Next Level" episode shows how many senior citizens are finding purpose and fun through gaming.
Video games offer older adults both physical and mental exercise
Posted at 2:12 PM, Oct 01, 2023

Video games have come a long way from their beginnings as children’s toys. Games these days are for everyone, and that includes senior citizens.

Older players have historically been an afterthought in the youth-obsessed video game industry. But as the medium matures, older gamers are becoming a much more significant force in the industry—one that developers can’t afford to ignore.

It can be easy to see why the gaming industry tends to focus on younger players—they currently make up much of the customer base. According to the Entertainment Software Association, only about 15% of players are over 55 years old, while over half the market is 34 or under.

But the number of seniors playing video games has been steadily growing along with the industry as a whole—AARP estimates there are about 52.4 million 50+ gamers in the U.S. in 2023, up from 41 million in 2016.

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Maura White is the AARP’s Senior Director for Gaming and Community. She says video games are emerging as a major part of life for more and more seniors across the country.

“As the industry wants to continue to grow and they look ahead, I think it's a wise decision to look at having particular efforts to meet the needs of the 50 plus," White said. “AARP looks at video game play as meaningful play and part of healthy aging. We just want to make sure that the rest of the world out there understands that, yeah, it's a big part of 50 plus life."

Like any demographic, older gamers aren’t a monolith. Casual players who gravitate towards mobile phone games make up the largest chunk of the audience, but there are also plenty of enthusiast gamers who are into consoles and computer games.

And video games can appeal to seniors for a wide range of reasons; older gamers play for relaxation, for new experiences, and for mental acuity.


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