Did you know that people over 50s spend almost as much time playing video games as teenagers? Puzzle games such as Candy Crush are already popular with mature gamers but shoot ’em ups (such as the war-themed Call of Duty), FIFA, Grand Theft Auto, and Brain Age are also big draws.
Market research consultancy Savanta has found that in the UK, 46% of gamers are 40-plus, and figures published by the Interactive Software Federation of Europe show that 23% of the overall games market across the continent consists of people aged 45-64.
Reasons for this boom may vary: from leisurely fun to spending time with younger relatives, curing boredom, and improving mental fitness. Complex strategy video games have also been found to be critical for improving memory and enhancing cognitive skills.
What we often forget is that many people in their fifties have grown up with video games from birth, so no wonder they are still keen to play with them.
“The age of gamers has been skewing towards the older generation for the past decade,” explains David S. Heineman, associate professor of communication studies at the Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania and author of ‘Thinking About Video Games: Interviews with Experts’. “People who are fifty now were kids when the first Atari systems came out and they also played arcade games, so there is a childhood nostalgia associated with video games,” says Heineman. “In addition, there’s been an evolution in the graphics of the games and a shift toward a wider array of stories that appeal to a broader audience than just teenagers.“
Amako Mori, for instance, is one of the most famous old gamers (now over 90 years old and better known by her online alias Gamer Grandma). She pursued her interest in gaming in 1981 at the age of 51 after learning that her children and grandchildren were playing video games for hours, quickly becoming an internet sensation for her gaming skills despite her age factor.
While obviously there are no rules to which games more mature players can enjoy, the rewards of having fun online seem to extend beyond beating a record.
According to Saga, there are teams of older people (for example, the Silver Snipers and the Grey Gunners) who not only continue to show that they can beat young gamers online, but are also paid handsomely by video game companies for the privilege.
Depending on their level and skills, whether they stream or not, the number of major tournaments they win, and the number of sponsors they have, on average, professional gamers earn between $1,000 and $5,000 per month, or, between $12,000 and $60,000 per year.
Competitions around the world can also have additional prize pots in the hundreds of thousands of USD, and the biggest tournaments have prizes in the millions of dollars.
Thinking of a plan B? Nowadays, there’s no such thing as retirement and this may be a good option for your next chapter.
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