Video games have never been more popular in the UK, with over £5bn spent on the digital pastime in 2018, more than music and video combined. But while gaming has long thrown off the impression of a niche pastime, it isn’t just youngsters indulging themselves in digital worlds, with a new study claiming that over one in four over-65s play.
A survey of 2000 adults by the UKIE backed Must Play May campaign --which is highlighting family-friendly gaming-- found that younger players were unsurprisingly more numerous, with 85pc of under-35s playing video games. But 42pc of 55 to 64 year olds said they had played a video game in the last five years, while over a quarter of the over-65s polled claimed to be gamers.
Strategy games such as Civilization were preferred by 60pc of the over-60s to keep the mind active, while 1 in 5 said they played multiplayer games with their grandchildren.
Joan Low, 97, from Renfrewshire in Scotland says that she plays games on her iPad 'every day' and that it keeps her mind sharp. Playing virtual games like Scrabble on a touchscreen is easier for players like Joan as it means she doesn't have to handle small pieces. "I have arthritis in my hands, so I'm not handling things that I invariably drop."
Video games can also give the older generation an outlet when they are on their own. "I used to play with my family and enjoyed the company and playing with them," says Joan. "So now when you're on your own, I found it very interesting to do and I can play against the computer. It gives me a challenge, in fact I think I'm addicted! But I don't think it's a bad thing."
"I don't think older people would be interested in the violent games," says Joan. "I don't really think of myself as a gamer. But maybe I am! It's the first time I've been called a gamer."
Stories of ‘gamer grannys’ have emerged in recent years all over the world. The most famous of which is the ‘Skyrim Grandma’ Shirley Curry. The 82-year-old gamer has over 500,000 followers on her YouTube channel, on which Curry streams video of her playing fantasy game The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Curry’s popularity reached such a peak that she was invited to be a non-playable character in the next Elder Scrolls games following a petition.
A total of 67pc of the adults polled said they played games as a teenager, which jumped to 98pc to under-35s, suggesting that the number of ‘silver gamers’ is only likely to increase in the years to come.