Thanks in part to Nintendo’s Wii, there’s a whole new demographic playing video games these days: retirees. It’s time to rethink your stereotypes – and watch your back if you’re playing Halo 2.
Stories about older gamers have been appearing online fairly regularly lately. I don't just mean people in their mid-thirties, though I did recently read a review of Halo 2 by a pair of thirty-something men who seemed to spend half the review unhappy about how bad they were at the game compared to the other players who were teenagers (and younger). No, I'm talking about people who are baby boomers and older, retired or semi-retired, with time on their hands and perhaps a lust for (virtual) killing in their hearts.
Don't believe me? Check out the blog of Barbara St. Hilaire, also known as Old Grandma Hardcore. The blog is actually written by her 22-year-old grandson Timothy. He goes into detail about the exploits of his grandmother as she plays various first person shooter games, often expressing herself in truly colorful metaphors as she gets frustrated. But she finishes an amazing number of games; in fact, she reviews games now for MTV.
Old Grandma Hardcore isn't alone. The demographic for video gamers has been changing, as I noted a few months ago. For example, casual games developer PopCap was surprised by the results of a recent survey of its players: 71 percent were older than 40, 47 percent were older than 50, and 76 percent were female. Numbers from the Entertainment Software Association back this up; they say 25 percent of all gamers are 50 years old or older.
Who are all these older gamers? Where are they coming from? Why are they gaming? What kinds of games are they playing? These aren't academic questions; they're vitally important to the gaming industry if it wants to expand its appeal. In this article I hope to give you some answers to at least a few of these questions.
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