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Pandemic sees over 60s use gaming to keep mentally active

Older people are using gaming as a way to improve their mental health and keep their brains active, according to new research commissioned by WePC

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Here at WePC we recently commissioned a survey into gaming and mental health. This new research shows that older people are using gaming as a way to improve their mental health and keep their brains active, especially during this time of repeating lockdowns due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Our survey of almost 600 gamers revealed that 64% of people over 60s used games to keep mentally active, with 89% stipulating they spent between one and ten hours a week gaming.

The puzzle game genre came out on top for over 60s with over 13% of that age range of responders playing puzzlers and from there, 19% of those preferring to tax their brains playing Solitaire.

It seems the older generation prefer to game using more established technology rather than embracing the current craze for mobile gaming – 61% said they prefer to play games on a desktop PC, predominantly within Windows.

It does appear that gaming has, however, opened up to some of the older generation through phones and tablets, with the other 39% of respondents saying they liked to play games on mobile devices.

A gamer from Los Angeles said the stigma of “being some kind of loser” as an adult gamer had now been replaced by a feeling of “pride” due to the results of the survey.

He added: “With a stressful career, mortgage, and three kids, gaming is a valuable time to tune out the noise of the world. It helps me relax.”

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Andrew Kirkcaldy, Director at WePC, said: “One of the findings of the survey that surprised us was the number of older gamers and the positive benefits they derive from it.

“Far from hiding their love of gaming, these older people are now proud of what they do.

“There is growing evidence that gaming is good for cognitive abilities as well as mental health and that’s definitely prevalent in our research.

“It’s also proved a way of connecting with people especially during the pandemic when we couldn’t get out as much – gamers in the US are reported to have spent 45% longer gaming at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic than before.”

Gamers themselves are not the first to recognize the cognitive benefits of gaming. A survey found that laparoscopy surgeons who played games for more than three hours a day made 32% less errors[i].

In a similar vein, employers found that gamers were in fact quicker learners when it came to work-based training[ii].

Researchers have also found evidence of lasting positive effects of video games on basic mental processes—such as perception, attention, memory, and decision-making. [iii]

To view the full report click here

[i] https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/65008/15-surprising-benefits-playing-video-games

[ii] https://software.intel.com/content/www/us/en/develop/articles/success-story-happy-jump.htm

[iii] https://www.journalofplay.org/sites/www.journalofplay.org/files/pdf-articles/7-1-article-video-games.pdf


Editor - Gaming AT WEPC

Paul McNally

Paul has been around consoles and computers since his parents bought him a Mattel Intellivision. He spent over a decade as editor of popular print-based video games and computer magazines, including a market-leading PlayStation title. Has written gaming content for GamePro, Official Australian Playstation Magazine, PlayStation Pro, Amiga Action, Mega Action, ST Action, GQ, Loaded, and the Daily Mirror. Former champion shoot 'em-up legend