FEATURE: Older gamers' playing habits

Dominic Sacco
FEATURE: Older gamers' playing habits

Pensioners may be overlooked within the industry, but that doesn’t mean they’re not interested in games.

PlayableGames’ manager Ben Weedon looks at the playing and buying habits of the older generation.

The proportion of people over 65 years old is increasing at an enormous rate. Approximately 10,000 people will turn 65 in the US alone – every day – for the next 19 years, as the baby boomer generation matures.

The older generation live healthier lifestyles today. They have greater mobility and more disposable income on average than before. Through the internet they have easy access to information to help them decide on what to spend their income. They make up an enormous market of untapped games buyers.

But mature gamers are not one homogenous group. As we don’t assume younger players are all the same, there’s no reason to assume that with older gamers too.

PlayableGames’ researchers discovered plenty of unspoken needs and desires that older people have towards video games in general.

How do they play games?

The proportion of people over 65 years old is increasing at an enormous rate. Approximately 10,000 people will turn 65 in the US alone – every day – for the next 19 years, as the baby boomer generation matures.

The older generation live healthier lifestyles today. They have greater mobility and more disposable income on average than before. Through the internet they have easy access to information to help them decide on what to spend their income. They make up an enormous market of untapped games buyers.

But mature gamers are not one homogenous group. As we don’t assume younger players are all the same, there’s no reason to assume that with older gamers too.

PlayableGames’ researchers discovered plenty of unspoken needs and desires that older people have towards video games in general.

What are their spending habits?

The people PlayableGames spoke to were careful with their money, and described their friends as similar. They take enjoyment from playing one favourite game for long periods of time, then replaying it again and again. Older players say they want to make the most of their financial outlay on any video games they purchase.

What puts them off playing?

Older players are daunted by the technicalities of online play – the routers, cables and menus. They aren’t interested in playing against strangers. The online gaming setup needs to be simple and as automatic as possible.

Traditional controller and multiple small button presses are a turnoff. Even the Wii Sports bowling mechanism of releasing the ball with the trigger takes some of them a while to learn. They prefer on-screen prompts to manuals.

Which games appeal to them?

Players over 65 years old talk often about activities they played in the past, such as netball, as well as things they can’t do in real life anymore. This includes horse riding and ballet dancing. Escapism and nostalgia are also key reasons for playing games, with current interests such as darts high up on the list of games they like.

Publisher focus

Dominic Sacco asks the bosses of two PC publishers what they think about the older gamer and how they’ve successfully targeted them.

 

“Nintendo did a wonderful job in marketing their products to the family, including the older generation.  The spending power of the older generation is substantial and with the correct targeting of software they will buy products. They are into their hobbies, and targeting of hobby magazines may be one way to communicate with them."

Robert Stallibrass, MD, Excalibur, publisher of titles such as Farming Simulator 2011 which has a strong audience of users over 45 years old

 


 

“The ‘arrival’ of the ‘silver surfer’ has brought a wider reach to the PC. Social media ties people to their screens for longer. There’s a strong demand for quality PC titles, particularly those with impulse prices.”

Craig Johnson, MD, Focus Multimedia, publisher of hidden object titles like A Gypsy’s Tale


 

Gamer research and usability company PlayableGames spoke to around 30 randomly selected individuals, including pensioners and their families. www.playablegames.net / 020 7421 6499


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Tags: Nintendo , games , habits , generation , gamers , excalibur , feature , focus multimedia , players , buying , old , craig johnson , Playing , Golden oldies , Older , Ben Weedon , PlayableGames , Robert Stallibrass

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