At Geek Girl Con 2013 in Seattle, I and my fellow Pixelkindred had the pleasure of attending “The Family Who Games Together: Gaming With Your Kids…AND Your Parents.” And what an inspiring session it was! My favorite part was when Ann Lemay, a writer for Bioware, talked about teaching her parents-in-law how to play World of Warcraft. The pair of retirees took their Warcraft lessons and parlayed them in to a whole new phase of life: new skills, new friends, and new ways to have fun.
Recent research points to a bunch of ways older folks can benefit from playing video games. Here are some of them.
1. Gaming can improve multitasking ability.
A study published in “Nature” found that when older adults played a car-racing game called Neuroracer, they got so good at multitasking they beat untrained 20-year-olds around the virtual track, and the gains persisted for 6 months.
2. Gaming can actually grow gray matter.
A study by the Max Planck Institute for Human Development found that brain areas involved in navigation, memory, planning, and fine motor skills grew when adults played Super Mario.
3. Gaming can improve strength and balance.
The National Institutes of Health found that an elderly patient improved her balance and strength by playing Wii Bowling.
4. Console gaming can improve fine motor skills.
Another NIH study found that playing video games can be a great tool for increasing coordination.
5. Exergaming can help fight depression.
A University of California study found that exercise video games help fight depression in older adults.
6. Gaming can make people of any age more social.
A study by Penn State found that “gamers who primarily played the game as a way to reinforce social bonds said they experienced higher levels of social ties and support.”
7. Gaming is fun!
Nowadays, gaming is a fun way to spend time with grandparents who live far away or right next door. Check out this article about grandparents who game: “Grandparents Play More Computer Games Than You Think.”