Grandparents also play video games

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Between 17% and 19% of adults over 55 years of age play video games on their smartphones (mobile), proof that older people can also be a target audience for this type of entertainment and advantageous users of the advanced digital technologies. It is the main conclusion of an investigation of Andrea Rosales placeholder image, researcher at the Communication and Social Change Networks (CNSC) group at the UOC’s Internet Interdisciplinary Institute (IN3).

“In society there is this idea that older people are not interested in digital technologies, but the facts show us that this is not the case. Not only do they give them basic uses such as interpersonal communication, but they also use them for other activities, such as entertainment, ”says Rosales. The researcher highlights that the percentage of video game users among this group is not that far from the average among adults, which in international studies stands at 30%.

The study sample includes 125 people aged between 55 and 79 years living in Spain, who responded to a questionnaire about the use of their mobile phones and brought an installed application that recorded their activity on the device. According to the application log, 17% of the participants played video games daily, while according to the questionnaire, 19% did. Those who played did so for an average of an hour a day, in sessions of about five minutes.

According to the results, the most popular phone games among those 55 and older they are similar to the most popular among adults. The list is headed by «Applauded»—Similar to the renowned board game Scrabble—,«Criminal Case»—Which challenges you to solve puzzles in a detective setting— and«Pokémon GO»—Which in 2016 revolutionized the market with its use of augmented reality to interact with the environment. They are followed by solitaire and puzzle games «Toon Blast” and “Candy Crush Saga».

Research has found no difference between the profile of older people who play video games and those who do not, not even in terms of age: on average, 79-year-olds play as much as 55-year-olds. The only factor that differs is that video game users tend to also be those who use their phone for more diverse purposes. “They are more advanced users, they are more adapted to using the telephone,” says Andrea Rosales.

In this sense, video games could contribute to the integration of older people in the digital environment. “By spending more time using the phone, they have more opportunities to use it and more reasons to develop digital skills,” argues Rosales. “It is a challenge for people who entered digital technologies very late, since all new technology requires a learning period, but at the same time if you have an activity that motivates you, such as play, the learning curve costs less». That can be beneficial beyond entertainment. For example, getting along well with the mobile phone makes it easier to do banking transactions, paperwork with the Administration or online purchases.

As for the motivations to play, they are often social. “They often value playing with close people, with children and grandchildren, and it is another way of relating to the people who are important to each of them”, explains the UOC researcher. “We are all interested in sharing activities with loved ones and being able to enjoy common interests.”

At a time when the festival NiceOne Barcelona brings together thousands of developers and video game enthusiasts in Barcelona, ​​Andrea Rosales warns that older people are often ignored by the industry due to the erroneous perception that they are not interested in this form of entertainment. «The video game industry is not paying attention to this sector of the population. It does not include them in market research or usability testing. They are missing a large sample, “he denounces. According to the researcher, video game developers could benefit from taking into account the ideas and evaluations of older people, since they are also among their audiences. “Technologies have to be designed with the least favored in society in mind and not to exclude them from new processes,” he adds.

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