Older Adults Are Playing Video Games (Maybe You Should Too)

Older Adults Are Playing Video Games (Maybe You Should Too)

When approaching retirement, one of the looming questions is always: “What am I going to do with all that time?” It’s a lot of unstructured time, and after the first few years of bucket list items, there’s usually a lot of time left. That’s why we recommend things that would help create hobbies as retirement gifts, and trying to get more involved with family as caregivers for the young should opportunity present itself. There is a hobby for older adults on the rise that used to be associated mostly with younger people we didn’t think of yet: video games.

Last month, the AARP shared some results of a national survey of gamers over the age of 50. It is not a small cohort. In fact, it’s 52.4 million strong, and could represent up to $2.5 billion dollars in annual spending. What may have started as a pandemic trend doesn’t show signs of disappearing anytime soon, with 45% of people over 50 playing video games, and 45% of that group playing them on a daily basis.

The most popular type of game among older adults is the puzzle or logic game, with card and tile games a close second. Passing the time might be an important retirement goal, but there are other reasons older adults consider video games a healthy part of aging. The report suggests they are motivated by:

  • passing the time (54%)
  • pleasure (46%)
  • mental acuity (39%)
  • emotion (23%)
  • immersion (13%)
  • social connection (11%)
  • challenge (10%)
  • self-improvement (9%)

Some people may still feel intimidated by video games, especially if their primary exposure is through watching the younger generation play first-person shooter games, but there is a great variety of genres and types of games available.

Using video games socially

While the majority of Senior gamers play individually, there are many social aspects to some games. Brand new games may have completely new rules to learn, but other games may be derived from board or card games that have been played for many years.

For example, the website Trickster Cards allows users to play bridge or hearts, among other card games, with video conferencing of the players (if desired). This seems like a nice substitute if everyone can’t be in the same room, as was necessary during covid lock-downs, but has additional benefits too. Some people continue to use tablets to play card games now, even when they are all in the same room. By using the tablets, no one needs to keep score, or shuffle and deal, and there is no possibility for a misplaying due to cards being stuck together.

It’s not just card games either, or the scrabble-type game Words with Friends. There are applications and websites to play classic and new board games too, where you can play with friends and family locally or when they aren’t close and you don’t have to keep track of all the pieces or rulebook.

However – a word of caution regarding social video games. Though it might be a good way to make new friends, it’s also possible the person on the other end is a scammer, as we pointed out in this blogpost about how scammers are updating their playbook. With the new advent of ChatGPT, it’s possible the scammers will be even more cunning. They may be able to utilize this new tool to create even more convincing conversations quickly to make them appear to be invested in who you are. A good rule of thumb to follow is not to send money to those that you haven’t met personally.

Are there hidden costs?

It’s sometimes frustrating to see games labeled as “free”, only to find out that they are unplayable without “in-app” purchases. The term “free” should really be replaced with more accurate descriptors, such as “demo” (providing a limited time demonstration), or “ad-supported” (meaning they get paid by ads), or “data supported” (meaning they get paid by selling data collected).

Unfortunately, the only way to really know is to read the fine print and reviews. Spending money upfront could help avoid those categories of hidden payments, or using a subscription product such as Apple Arcade could help you know that everything has been vetted to fit under their single agreement.

As a fiduciary, Garden State Trust company is bound by fiduciary duty to put their client’s interests ahead of their own. This is the highest standard, and it doesn’t apply to everyone. As long as it is a worthwhile transaction for both parties, the business and consumer will prosper. Never feel uncomfortable asking the question about how someone makes their money, be it a game maker, car dealer, or financial advisor. It’s an opportunity for them to demonstrate the value they are providing for your hard-earned dollars.

If you’re thinking about retirement, or a work-optional lifestyle and wondering about the financial side of whether you’re ready, let us know. We’d be pleased to provide a consultation.