Play's the Thing. A Wager on Healthy Aging

Play's the Thing. A Wager on Healthy Aging

Mihai Nadin (University of Texas at Dallas, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-739-8.ch009

Abstract

This study highlights the findings of researchers who, since the early 1980s, recognized the potential of engaging seniors in game interactions as an alternative to passive activities. Against this background, the perspective of anticipatory processes for evaluating specific gaming needs of the aging and providing games with anticipatory features is introduced. The hypothesis informing this work is that aging results in diminished adaptive abilities, resulting from decreased anticipatory performance. To mitigate the consequences of reduced anticipatory performance, we address brain plasticity through playing. Since anticipation is expressed in action, the games conceived, designed, and produced for triggering brain plasticity need to engage the sensory, cognitive, and motoric. The AnticipationScope, i.e., integration of motion-capture data and physiological sensors, is the platform for identifying individual characteristics and for validating the results of game participation. The output is the Anticipatory Profile. Implementations inspired by this original scientific framework are presented.
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Catching Up With The Adult Seniors

Today, games for health, and in particular games addressing the rapidly growing aging population, represent a large segment—evaluated at 26%—of the entire effort to conceive, design, produce, and market games of all kind. One of the games used in this effort—Surprise! Surprise!—is tennis. And one of the most important observations made so far is that playing tennis with the computer is interesting at the beginning. However, playing with someone else, for instance, over the Internet, is what users want, regardless of whether they are beginners or those handicapped seniors who once upon a time used to play real tennis every day. The social aspect of playing is actually more important for the aging than for any other demographic group: “Games will entice the aging to remain fit and mentally active, to connect with others” (Montet, 2006).

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