Today’s gamers include millions of Americans of all ages and backgrounds. The statistics may surprise you. The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) reports that 72 percent of American households play computer and video games. The average gamer is 37 years old, and 42 percent of all game players are women.
According to the Association for Psychological Science, senior citizens have become some of the strongest and most enthusiastic users of the Nintendo® Wii™.
Meet Jane Behling (shown right). Eighty-seven years young, Behling lives in a senior apartment community in Wisconsin. Two years ago, a group of residents in her complex began bowling using a Wii system. It was her first exposure to video games.
“Bowling on the Wii keeps me active and mentally alert,” she said. “I’m eager to do it each week. Our entire community thrives on staying active. We’re not sitting in wheelchairs, drooling in our bibs, and watching reruns on TV. We’re having fun!”
Hugely popular and an anticipated weekly social event, the league has grown to six teams. “There’s even a cheering section,” Behling added. “Our top bowler can barely walk, but she hits a strike almost every time!”
Far from creating anti-social loners, video games help players engage with friends and community.
“To me, gaming is really just another social way to hang out with friends,” Loosen said. “In the 1980s and early 1990s, this was done in arcades. In the late ’90s, it might have been having over friends to play games with on consoles. Now, with things like the PlayStation® Network and Xbox Live®, you can game with friends across the world from you.”
Video games span virtual borders and transcend language barriers. For example, Gladness Stephano is a 7-year-old girl living in Arusha, a city in the African country of Tanzania. Nicholas Gehring, also 7, recently visited with his parents from the United States. The two children – both shy and with no common language between them – sat quietly beside one another while the grown-ups chatted. Gehring showed her his iPad®.1 Stephano had never seen any type of computer and was afraid to touch it at first. After only a couple of minutes, however, she was playing Angry Birds – and playing well.
1 iPad is a registered trademark of Apple Inc.