Nearly half of over-50 population plays video games

Long thought of as hobbies of younger generations, video games have been catching on among older adults, and the results of a recent survey reveal just how popular gaming is among the over-50 crowd. Researchers from the Entertainment Software Association found that almost half of adults 50 and older play video games.

Exercising the brain
Video games have long had a reputation for being mindless entertainment, and while that may be the case for some of the less-engaging titles, the games that older adults are choosing to play certainly do not fall under that category. For instance, 56 percent of older gamers prefer card or tile games, while 52 percent are more interested in titles that test their logic skills. A total of 27 percent of this group like to play trivia, word or board games. Not only do these results change the common image of video game players, but researchers say they are also encouraging steps toward healthy aging.

"Video games are enjoyed by millions of consumers of all ages. The popularity of video games is expected given the innovation and sheer entertainment this industry offers," said Michael D. Gallagher, president and CEO of ESA. "Across all game platforms and genres, Americans age 50 and over are exercising their minds and bodies, connecting with family members, and having fun with video games."

Surprising benefits
The study offers further evidence that video game use should be a common part of senior living. Some of the most convincing research comes from North Carolina State University, where scientists found that older adults who played video games enjoyed substantial health benefits. The findings, released earlier this year, were based on a poll of 140 adults aged 63 and older. In addition to asking them how often they played video games, researchers also assessed their emotional and physical well-being. What they found was that those who reported playing video games - even only occasionally - enjoyed a higher level of emotional and physical health.

"The research published here suggests that there is a link between gaming and better well-being and emotional functioning," said Dr. Jason Allaire, the paper's lead author.

There could be a number of reasons for the benefits, but experts speculate that it can help connect seniors with family members as well as keep their minds and bodies limber.