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Truly ‘mature’ video games needed for aging gamers

What would the seniors edition of Call of Duty look like?


 

erin m/Flickr

Will there ever be a Call of Duty: Seniors’ Edition? It’s a question I found myself asking after speaking with a CTV reporter the other day.

The reporter was working on a story about a recent study that involved World of Warcraft and senior citizens. According to the study’s co-author, Jason Allaire at North Carolina State University,  “People who played ‘World of Warcraft’ versus those who did not play experienced an increase in cognitive ability, particularly older adults who performed very poorly in our first testing session.” In other words, World of Warcraft–and video games in general—may be good for older people.

My input to the story came in assessing the future market for video games—a market that looks to expand greatly given that the gaming population is generally getting older. I hadn’t thought much about it before, but it’s indeed a fascinating topic.

The first game console, the Magnavox Odyssey, came out in 1972, but it wasn’t much of a success (the story is thoroughly detailed in Sex, Bombs and Burgers). Atari released its considerably more successful Pong console in 1975, followed by the 2600 (the first real hit home video game machine) in 1977.

If we make the assumption that the youngest players of those consoles were six or seven years old at the time, that means the oldest people in the world today who have always played video games are in their mid-forties. Put another way, we’re still about 20 years away from having senior citizens who can properly be called gamers.

This means the business is in for a profound change over the next two decades. While some people who played games as children or teenagers may have “outgrown” them, I suspect that for most people of my generation that’s not the case. We still play video games, but we may not have as much time for them or our tastes have changed. Personally, maybe that’s why I can’t dig a game like Gears of War 3 like I used to.

There’s something to that. We like to think that we get smarter and wiser as we age, which, if true, means our games will have to do the same. Right now, games that are rated “M for Mature” generally only get that label because they’re especially violent or they have profane language. Perhaps, in the near future, the “Mature” rating will instead apply to games that truly cater to older gamers, similar to how this year’s crop of Best Picture Oscar nominees could only possibly appeal to septuagenarians and above.

With that said, exactly what would Call of Duty: Seniors’ Edition look like?


 

Truly ‘mature’ video games needed for aging gamers

  1. Easy, you are called on to rescue your grandchild after your son/daughter-in-law fails at parenting.

  2. Alan Wake
    L.A. Noire
    Dear Esther

    The number of games designed to appeal to older audiences is slowly increasing.

    Not to mention that we’re starting to see some of the first games, like “Once Upon a Monster” designed specifically for parents to play with their kids, in appropriate roles for each.

    So they’re coming. Call of Duty: Senior Edition would have to be less reliant on twitch reflexes, obviously, and more reliant on being able to get your head around things and have an idea of how consequences are going to play out. Off the top of my head, something with the complexity of Achron (http://www.achrongame.com/) might go over well.

  3. The 90’s were big on games that catered to adults with titles like Will Fandango, Leisure Suit Larry, Phantasmagoria, System Shock, etc. Also personally, I think the original format for Splinter Cell is excellent for older audience; the slower pace, planning and execution of attacks, problem solving and multiple options available. 

    • Oo. That reminds me.. the Thief series of games would probably go over well as well.

  4. Are we sure that the positive effects of video games for older people extend to single player games?

    World of Warcraft is a multiplayer game, with a social aspect. You’re not just playing the game, you’re playing with other people, co-operatively and competitively (or, at least, that’s what the makers of the game want you to believe). I’d imagine older people playing the game are, on some level, connecting with a younger generation as well.

    Is it possible that it’s that aspect of the game that has the positive effect, as opposed to the simple act of picking up a controller and pressing buttons?

  5. I know I’d certainly like to see more RPGs with mature story telling that don’t focus on infantile aspects of gaming. There’s so much they could do with this form of human “play”, but they seem ever focused on the gimmicks rather than the substance of the stories.

  6. If it’s hard to find a game as a “senior” adult, try finding one for “senior” female players. I keep hoping something interesting for my age and gender will be available. 

  7. Call of Duty Seniors Edition: same game as CoD: 4, different tittle. Just like all the new Call of Duty games.

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