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February 12, 2018

The Ageing Audience of Gaming: A New Demographic Of Players

Written By Nikki McCaig

As 10,000 Baby Boomers become senior citizens every single day, the Silver Pound is growing. With more influence on our technological culture than ever before, the older generations are becoming leaders in the fields of mobile, computing and robotics, and are gradually becoming more accepted into the digital-first society. But for a long period of time, gaming has been a previously untapped venture for ageing tech enthusiasts.

Despite the brief burst of Baby Boomer gamers emerging from the Nintendo Wii in the late 2000’s, video games and the older generations have never really overlapped. But with a recent influx of Gen X players introducing themselves to the gaming community, is it time that the next decade of gamers was welcomed into the fold?

The Existing Older Gamers

Roller Gaming
Interestingly, there are some exceptions to the above statements. In Sweden, a group of 60+ professional competitive gamers called the Silver Snipers have gone viral for their entry into the league tables of Counter Strike, making them the oldest competitors to enter the game in history.

On Youtube, the gaming community has also welcomed elderly grandmother Shirley Curry as her Let’s Play playthrough of Skyrim became a huge hit online with fans of every ages. The 79 year old’s running commentary of her game play has been engaging over 200,000 subscribers and fans around the world – proving that the once young and fresh-faced heroes of gaming aren’t the only ones reaping success from the industry.

The Benefits Of Gaming

abi ismail 462669 - The Ageing Audience of Gaming: A New Demographic Of PlayersThere are many obvious benefits for gaming industries to start welcoming older players into their target markets – a new, and highly profitable demographic, with plenty of free time and a lot of disposable income is bound to seem attractive to suppliers. But introducing gaming into the routines of older generations could also have some impressive benefits on their overall health, mental ability and confidence as well.

Though most video games are essentially sedentary hobbies, the social elements of many games available today is said to naturally improve general health and motivation levels in elderly or older players. Engaging in light hearted conversations, forum chats or even trash talk with other competitors online can contribute to a social boost previously unexplored for the over 50’s, many of whom suffer from isolation and loneliness in older age. This increased social engagement can be a big self esteem boost for these gamers, encouraging them to interact with others more, become interested in new hobbies, and elevate their mood – helping to improve their physical health one level at a time.

But video games are reportedly having a similar effect on the cognitive functions of the elderly as well, with the complex strategies, noise-heavy environments and key concentration skills required helping to keep their minds active and engaged. Some studies have even suggested that the headphones used by gamers could even help to improve hearing loss in the older generations, by encouraging them to pick out words, phrases and character dialogue in loud, explosive scenes. This could then help them translate this function into their real life, keeping them more alert and focussed in busy or stressful situations.

How Can Gaming Advertisers Reach This Older Demographic

jeff sheldon 2556 - The Ageing Audience of Gaming: A New Demographic Of PlayersThough not necessarily hard to reach, the older gaming community is perhaps a harder sell than it’s younger counterparts. The typical channels of advertising, through online streaming sites, social media marketing and influencer promotions are less likely to make an impact on Baby Boomer gamers, who generally respond better to the more traditional forms of advertising.

Returning gaming marketing to the standard streams of advertising might be a positive push towards reaching the older sectors, but other changes, such as promoting the social elements of gaming, their accessibility on easy-to-use consoles and the pre-existing older community of gamers might just make that crucial difference.

Gaming is no longer an exclusive hobby of the nerdy teenage boy, and the rich diversity of the gaming community is expanding. With gaming becoming more accessible than ever, and more open to new contributors, new untapped sectors of gamers could be emerging faster than ever before; with no man, woman or Baby Boomer left behind.