Aging and Gaming

Hi, my name is Jim and I’m a computer gaming addict. I’ve just spent hours playing the new Civilization game, Civilization V: Gods and Kings. It’s a wide sweep strategy game in which you start with a small city in 4000 B.C. and build a dominant civilization through the modern era. It’s one of those ‘just one more turn’ type of games where there is always just one more exciting task to complete, battle to fight, technology to discover.

A long history of this kind of play for me. I’ve been playing strategy games since I was a kid, first board wargames, then, since the early 1990s, strategy games on the computer  when the first Civilization game and others came out. Here I am in my 60s still at it. From a Gerontology point of view, I would say that shows Atchley’s Continuity Theory at work if I ever saw it. I expect I’ll want an internet connection and a computer forever.

This blog seemed like it would be a bit risky confessional. What 60 year old is still playing computer or video games? Turns out I’m not such a weirdo after all. One quarter, 25% of gamers, are over the age of 50. The average age of a gamer is 35 which means, given the number of teenage gamers, there is a good number of older gamers driving up that average. I suspect that there are quite a few like me who are ‘early onset’ gamers who have been doing it for their whole life. And there’s a whole bunch of ‘late onset’ gamers who are discovering the joy of gaming — a good portion of the Me generation is turning into the Wii generation. I think the number of older gamers will grow and here’s why.

Older people have more time, and gaming takes hours and hours. That’s why you don’t see teenagers for days (who’s complaining?). Older people who are working less and not dealing with their children’s crises all day have more time for gaming. Second, games cost money — around $50 for most new ones, but it’s increasing and should be at $75 soon. When I was young I had to save up that $ for a new game. Now, with a much improved bank balance and not much more than one click I can buy that game and download it. Third, the mental, and, in the case of Wii type games, physical challenge, of gaming is just about right for many older people. Keeps the mind sharp in Civ V to decide whether to attack Alexander the Great’s Greek civilization or build the Stonehenge Wonder.

So I’ll keep at it. Hope you are gaming or doing something stimulating and exciting. If you do game a lot, let me know. Otherwise, I’ll see you on the gaming discussion boards. Now I need to get back to building that Stonehenge Wonder.

Sid Meier’s Civilization V: Gods & Kings is available for PC  via download from Steam and in stores.