At the Game Developer’s Conference 2016 professor Bob De Schutter of Applied Game Design at Miami University, gave an excellent presentation: Beyond Ageism: Designing Meaningful Games for an Older Audience. The past couple of years he has been researching the kind of games people over 50 play.
His research suggests that older adults prefer games with exploration, social interaction and less focus on reflexes. The latter is possibly because our reflexes get slower as we age and therefore we’re likely to find games that rely on fast reflexes a tad frustrating. As we get older we are all likely to find some sort of disability in our lives, be it reduced visibility, problems with our hands or other disabilities. Building content with accessibility in mind is therefore an important consideration. Larger fonts, different coloured backgrounds etc. One piece of advice here is that it helps if these are options, rather than one size fits all solutions.
The number of gamers over 50 will increase exponentially in the future, so it’s important for publishers to know that they should start paying more and more attention to this growing demographic. One of the possible reasons the target group is now largely overlooked might be due to the age of the developers themselves. Most of them are between the ages of 30-39. They grew up with gaming and turned their passion into a career. As they get older themselves they will hopefully start to realise that young people aren’t the only ones enjoying (and buying) games.
Aside from ageism, Bob De Schutter’s also discusses virtual worlds. The whole presentation is about an hour long, but it is well worth your time. Watch it for free on the GDC Vault website.