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Gaming Habits of Older Gamers (Gamers Over 50)

Updated on April 15, 2020
Rachelle Williams profile image

Rachelle is a digital content creator, IT college counselor, tech geek, sci-fi nerd, travel junkie, mom and grandma all rolled into one.

According to a study conducted by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), older gamers are playing more video games than most people commonly suspect.

As a girl gamer who is also a 51 year old member of Generation X, the AARP finding doesn't surprise me, and I imagine it wouldn't surprise most of my generational cohort either.

It is probably a safe bet that the kids we played Pac Man, Galaga and Donkey Kong with at the arcades and convenience stores in the '80s, are the adults who are still playing today, and many of us recently turned 50.

The AARP survey reveals what some of us only suspected, and it is interesting to see what they have uncovered.

Who is Playing?

Before we delve into the findings of the study, it is important to note that, according to gaming industry research, the average age of a U.S. gamer is 35, the average number of years a U.S. gamer has been gaming is 13, and only 29% of the gamer population is under 18 years old. The American gamer population is 59% male and 41% female.

The AARP surveyed 3,737 people, ages 50 and above. Out of the people surveyed, 1,664 respondents indentified themselves as being gamers who played on a monthly basis; a little less than half of the respondents were female.

Out of the respondents who reported they didn't play games, 57% said they didn't play simply because they weren't interested. This would make sense, because a large portion of young people aren't "into" gaming either. There seems to be a certain novelty about gaming, and most people I know do not regularly play video games.

What Are They Playing?

The survey went on to uncover that the vast majority of older gamers are gaming on their phones or other mobile devices (74%), many of them are playing PC games (47%), and the smallest amount of gamers over 50 are gaming on consoles (13%).

This also makes sense, because there is mountains of evidence to suggest that mobile gaming is hugely popular, the same is true for mobile computing overall. If you consider this aspect on a global scale, keep in mind the fact that it is far less expensive to own a mobile device (phone, tablet, handheld gaming device) than a computer or a gaming console.

Why Are They Playing?

First let's knock out the stereotypes. There is a commonly-held myth that playing video games is a hobby for young people, and therefore adults who enjoy gaming are "immature." Then, there is the highly offensive notion that older people don't understand gaming technology...

However, only 9% of the survey respondents said they didn't play because they believe that gaming was for the younger generation, and an even smaller amount (5%) reported they didn't play video games because they couldn't figure out the technology.

So, why are older gamers gaming? First, there's the obvious. People play video games for entertainment and a lot of other people play to escape reality for one reason or another. However, older gamers sometimes have specific reasons for playing video games.

Research has shown that some forms of cognitive stimulation may delay or slow the onset of degenerative neurological illness, such as Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

Video games provide cognitive stimulation, via fast paced action and complex controls. Some older gamers use gaming as mental exercise, and experts encourage them to do so.

Then, there is the fact that there are many older people who are separated or isolated from their family and friends. How many of us have grandparents who live across the country, or even across the globe?

And still, for many seniors, the actual distance doesn't matter. If your loved ones live across town, but they aren't able to visit as much as they would like to or should, the situation can be just as stressful as if they lived out of the country...

Video games allow older people to stay socially connected to their friends, family, and even strangers online whom they meet up with (virtually - safety first) and become friendly. How cool would it be to game with your grandma, who may be hundreds or even thousands of miles away?

The Gamer's Poll

What is your age range? Please answer the following question if you are an active gamer.

See results

In Conclusion

The fact is, older gamers are a reality that needs to become a normal part of society. The AARP concluded that gamers 50 and over in the United States, spent an estimated $35 billion on games in 2019.

We are here, we have buying power, and, thanks to advances in medical science and technology, we also have staying power...despite rouge viruses and morally bankrupt politicians.


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