For Whom the Games Toll: A Qualitative and Intergenerational Evaluation of What is Serious in Games for Older Adults

Najmeh Khalili-Mahani, Bob De Schutter, Mahsa Mirgholami, Eileen Mary Holowka, Rebecca Goodine, Scott DeJong, Roseleen McGaw, Sue Meyer, Kim Sawchuk
The aim of this study was to engage older adults in discussions about digital serious games. Using a qualitative exploratory approach, we report observations from more than 100 h of conversations with individuals in the age range 65-90, in a study entitled "Finding better games for older adults" (June 2017-December 2019). Phase 1 (19 older participants, 3 young research students) involved conversations around a quantitative study of cognitive benefits of digital playing (minimum 6 h/person).
more » ... ses 2 and 3 involved a focus group in the form of a community class (10 weeks, 2 h per meeting), involving introduction to digital game genres, playing, and discussing motivations and obstacles for current and future play. Cognitive stimulation, emotional distraction and physical therapy were initially stated as the motives for game play. However, with growing familiarity and voluntary exchanges of personal stories between older and younger participants, the cultural significance of the medium of game (especially with story-telling and VR technology) became more important to older adults. More than mechanical inaccessibility, lack of access to the cultural discourse about games presents barriers for older adults. To create a safe, comfortable and accessible space for intergenerational learning and play is of primary importance both for users and designers, should serious games be considered for the future of digital care.
doi:10.1007/s40869-020-00103-7 fatcat:5exwvkd6z5a2bde3p2wc3lun3q