Game Design for Older Adults: Lessons from a Life Course Perspective

Game Design for Older Adults: Lessons from a Life Course Perspective

Julie A. Brown (Ohio University, Athens, OH, USA) and Bob De Schutter (Miami University, Oxford, OH, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/IJGCMS.2016010101
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Play is a lifelong construct that is individually defined and is influenced by multiple variables that affect how play is interpreted and experienced in old age. This study highlights the significance of using a life course perspective to explore how play is shaped and reflected through digital gameplay and preferences as a game player ages. Using grounded theory methodology, 51 participants (age 43 - 77) were interviewed individually. The resulting transcripts were coded to identify emergent themes. The findings demonstrate 1) how play changes throughout the lifespan, 2) how play preferences established in childhood influence digital gameplay for aging adults, and 3) how aging adult gamers aspire to continue gaming as they grow older. Collectively, these themes provide insight into the aspects that need to be taken into account when designing games for aging gamer populations.
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The research on game design for older adults dates back to Weisman (1983). This study relied on observations of the frail elderly, and recommended adaptable difficult levels, clear auditory feedback and large visual elements. While digital games have since changed dramatically, these recommendations would be repeated numerous times over the years.

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