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The circle of gaming life

Lately it seems as though there isn’t a week which goes by where I don’t come across gaming news which inspires a discussion. Last month was no exception: this time it was an article on the Metro website entitled Survey hails rise of ‘granny gamers’ with one in four over-65s playing video games.

The research was apparently commissioned by Ukie’s Must Play May, a campaign designed to bring families together to play the most appropriate and enjoyable releases. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to track down the original source and see the findings for myself but according to the Metro, a survey of 2,000 adults revealed that as many as 27% of over-65s claimed to have played a video game in the past five years. This increased to 85% for under-35s, and I’ve gathered the following figures together.

  • Under-35s – 85%
  • 35- to 44-year olds – 75%
  • 44- to 54-year olds – not stated
  • 55- to 65-year olds – 42%
  • Over-65s – 27%

    I’m a little shocked these figures have come as a surprise to many people. Individuals included in that oldest classification above would have been around when the first home PCs and consoles became available, so if they got into the hobby back then it makes sense that at least a fraction would still have an interest in it now. Take my own dad as an example: I can remember him getting a Commodore 64 in the 1980s when my brother and I were very young, and us sitting either side of him so we could watch him play titles such as Ghosts ‘Goblins and Paperboy.

    If you follow this train of thought, it therefore also makes sense that a high percentage of people in my own age group play video games too. Our parents occasionally played them, they were a part of our lives growing up and we became accustomed to them. Picking up a controller and turning on a game with a partner feels as familiar as sitting down together to watch a film; and some of us would rather do the former because of their interactivity. As I wrote in March, we may ultimately arrive at set end-points determined by a developer, but the choices we make along the way transform a plot into our own story.

    Keeping this thinking going, it’s understandable then why as many as 85% of under-35s play video games in one form or another. They’re now a part of everyday life and younger generations have seen their parents regularly participate in the hobby, even playing together as a family. For me personally it was a way to bond with my stepson when I was first introduced to him five years ago. It’s still a big part of our lives now: you’ll often find us chatting about new releases, hanging out at expos, or taking our PlayStation VR to family parties to rope everyone into having a go.

    I think the nature of video games has changed also for this youngest group and they no longer operate as simply entertainment. They’re also a kind of ‘social space’ and the lines between gaming and social media platforms are blurring. Part of the reason for this is online multiplayers and cooperative titles where it’s necessary to work together to achieve a goal, along with the ability to share screenshots and gameplay straight from your console. For example, my stepson doesn’t like Fortnite – but he still signs in on Friday nights so he can ‘hang out’ with his school friends.

    PlayStation VR, Christmas, Pete, Patricia

    These youngsters will be the grandchildren of the people in the over-65s group so let’s take the discussion back to them now. According to the Metro’s report, 31% of the oldest people surveyed said they used video games ‘as an excuse for interacting with them’ and ‘more than half said they were interested in playing with younger members of the family’. The variety of releases available nowadays is huge and there’s something both suitable and enjoyable for absolutely everybody, so what better way to make everyone feel involved than by handing them a controller.

    Gaming can be a means of both social interaction and keeping your mind active. For anyone who’s no longer able to continue with their previous hobbies because they don’t have the stamina or capability, video games can provide a way to relate to others and be a member of a community. As said by 97-year old Joan Low in an article about the Must Play May survey on The Telegraph’s website: “I used to play with my family and enjoyed the company and playing them. So now when you’re on your own, I found it interesting to do and I can play against the computer. It gives me a challenge, in fact I think I’m addicted!”

    We’re now seeing a generation of parents who grew up playing video games themselves and are passing their passion and knowledge onto their children. I think that’s awesome: it’s like a circle of gaming life.

    Kim View All

    Video game lover, Later Levels blogger and SpecialEffect volunteer. Big fan of wannabe pirates and fine leather jackets.

    17 thoughts on “The circle of gaming life Leave a comment

    1. My folks fit into this age category, and they’ve both been lifelong computer-users and gamers of sorts. (My Dad would never admit that, mind; Microsoft Flight Simulator “isn’t a game”, you see)

      I know that some of my mother’s fondest memories of my childhood were the times we spent playing LucasArts and Sierra adventure games together.

      Liked by 2 people

      • That is interesting to hear that your family is still gaming and that you joined in too by playing LucasArts games. Furthermore, its cool to know that the people over 65 are still playing video games! When the whole family games together they may have a better chance at staying together. When generations come together its a cool thing!

        Liked by 2 people

    2. I have to admit now I have The Circle of Life in my head.

      I don’t think it should be overly surprising that the older generations who saw gaming come into homes and develop would still have an interest. Especially when it comes to interacting with their younger family members.

      My parents don’t play games but both have watched me play (my other half as well) and been slightly interested in trying something out but wary because they haven’t really played much. My grandparents were the ones that found it interesting and bought the first console I played on (for my mum originally and kept it because in their mind it was an amazing thing). If they were here I think they would be amazed as to what has happened with it now. Would they have played with me to try? Maybe, maybe not. However the ones turning 65 now are perhaps more likely to have had more of an interest and keep playing with family, even if not regularly every so often is still something.

      I guess when people think of people who play games they still default to younger people (children to young adults).

      Liked by 1 person

      • My mother-in-law has just turned 70 and is slowly coming around to the idea of playing games, thanks to my stepson. He ropes her into playing with him occasionally or tells her about his latest game – and she’s been known to join in with a bit of VR or a few rounds of That’s You!

        And yeah… sorry about that Circle of Life thing…


    3. I’d be really interested in seeing the over 65’s category broken down into when they first played a game. Like you say many people, maybe particularly grandparents, might be interested in playing games as a way of interacting with younger people, but some will have started playing video games waaaay back and may have been playing them ever since.

      My dad is the reason I like video games. He’s 69 now and has played them as long as I can remember! We used to play multiplayer titles (stuff like Civilization and Football Manager) together and I would sit and watch him play more difficult games. He is still into gaming but seems to now prefer playing really old games on emulators rather than buying much new stuff and that makes me a wee bit sad for some reason.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I love that your dad is still playing! My own doesn’t so much now as newer games don’t really interest him, but he still makes an effort to keep up with what’s going on as a way to bond with my stepson. He thinks that ‘modern stuff just isn’t as good’ and always goes on about LucasArts or Microsoft Flight Simulator.

        I think it’s just different… he’s used to titles that had a higher difficulty level and the pleasure came from beating them. He sees current releases as being more ‘shallow’, if that makes sense.

        Liked by 1 person

    4. I will be 57 the end of this year, my first was Pong when it was released, followed by the Atari 2600 and more game cartridges than I care to remember. So over 40 years of gaming for me.


    5. ‘In the past 5 years’ is a pretty broad window, as is ‘video game’ potentially since it looks like (from a cursory glance through the source articles, at least) there is no definition provided.

      So does this include scenarios where a grandchild has thrust a phone with a mobile game in front of their grandparent and they had a little go and then haven’t touched another gaming experience since?

      And for the sake of being very clear — there is absolutely nothing wrong with such in my view, I’d just like to know what these numbers mean in a more practical sense.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Whenever I’ve dug into Ukie’s reports before, they’ve always been pretty good at sharing the data. But for some reason I wasn’t able to find their statistics for the Must Play May. I would have really liked the chance to dig into the figures a bit further!


      • I would have been interested to see the youngest category broken down even further. I wonder what percentage of secondary-school-kids are playing video games nowadays?

        Going by what my stepson says, it seems like 99%!

        Liked by 1 person

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