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Research Roundup: Video Gaming for Older Adults

Worldwide, humans are living longer than any point in previous history…and we think that’s pretty awesome! 

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According to the World Health Association, the world’s population aged 60+ is expected to grow from 900 million to 2 billion by 2050, a remarkable doubling of proportion from 12% to 22%. As a result, a growing number of older adults are embracing video gaming as a hobby – from community Wii Sports bowling leagues, to addictive mobile games like Pokémon GO, and even broadcasting their gameplay on sites like YouTube and Twitch.tv!

For many in this population, though, gaming serves as far more than a playful diversion – research shows that cognitively stimulating activities like playing video games can help delay or slow the onset of degenerative neurological diseases like dementia. But that’s not all – since the early 2010s, academic studies have examined even more physical and cognitive benefits of video game play among older adults. Here’s a look at some of their key findings:

Video Game Training Enhances Cognitive Control in Older Adults

In our increasingly technologically-dependent age, multitasking abilities are more critical than ever before – yet evidence shows that these abilities decline as we grow older. This study aimed to determine the efficacy of game-based multitasking training interventions using a custom 3-D game titled NeuroRacer. Researchers found that older adults who participated in the game-based training experienced reduced multitasking costs compared to control groups, with gains including enhanced attention, working memory, and other cognitive abilities.

The effects of videogame playing on the response selection processing of elderly adults

In this study, two groups of elderly participants were studied in order to determine the effectiveness of a game-based approach to improving response speeds. The results of the study found that participants who participated in 7 weeks of video game play experienced faster response times in post-tests when compared to the control group. 

Video game training to improve selective visual attention in older adults

This study aimed to determine the effectiveness of video game training on useful field of view performance among older adults. 58 participants were selected to join the study, split into an action game group (Medal of Honor), a placebo control arcade group (Tetris), a traditional UFOV training program, and a no-contact control group. Upon examining changes in selective visual attention, researchers found that all three intervention groups experienced significant performance improvements when compared to the no-contact control group participants.

Effects of interactive physical-activity video-game training on physical and cognitive function in older adults

In this study, researchers developed a video game training program designed to assess the potential cognitive benefits of exercise-based video game play among older adults. Upon examining the results of the program, participants who engaged in the video game training experienced significantly improved physical function, cognitive control, and processing speed – key abilities required to support healthy living among older adults.

Can training in a real-time strategy video game attenuate cognitive decline in older adults?

As humans age, it’s inevitable that our cognitive abilities decline. To counteract this, cognitive training aims to help older adults practice their executive control functions like task switching, short-term memory, and reasoning skills. In this study, researchers aimed to determine whether real-time strategy (RTS) video game play can help improve executive control among older adults. Ultimately, the study found that participants who played the video game training improved their executive control functions significantly when compared to other participants in a control group. 

At Filament, we specialize in creating engaging, thoughtful games for all populations – including older adults. If you or your organization is in need of a custom game or app designed with older adults in mind, we’d love to learn more – contact us today for a free consultation!

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