I saw a strange scene last week. Grandma and grandson were sitting very companionably and playing a computer game – she on her tablet, a gift from her daughter, and my son on his device!
I picked up my poor surprised jaw off the floor and walked into the kitchen. As the door shut, I could hear my mom shout out, “Beat you!” with great gusto. My mom watched a lot of sports (and she could be very vocal about her support), but she had never played a single computer game as far as I knew. She and my son had spent many wonderful hours playing other games at the park and at home.
Image credit: makelessnoise
Maya, my wife, explained that a few days ago, my mom had asked our son if she could watch him play his computer game. After many instructions and explanations, they seemed to have found a nice rhythm to their play. They started taking turns playing on his device. Once she got comfortable, out came her as-yet-unused tablet. Now, she was playing a multi-player game on her tablet, against her grandson on a different device!
Curious to know what they were playing, I sauntered over and watched. They were playing something called Food Flick, flicking food to people in the stadium. Busy flicking burgers and sodas they answered me in grunts and monosyllables. I interpreted their communication and understood that my football mad mom and son had downloaded the NFL Rush Zone app meant for kids called – Game Day Heroes. What they were playing was a mini game from the app.
Gaming which is beneficial for Seniors
With the rise of memory loss in the elderly, doctors and researchers have been suggesting games as a good way to keep the brain active so as to slow down the effects of age-related cognitive decline. It’s believed that certain problem-solving skills and strategizing, that is required in gaming, might slow down the effects of aging on the brain.
Interestingly, gaming, which was considered an industry that targeted the youth, now also targets the elderly! For the elderly who have restricted movement, gamification of real life activities (which they can no longer do, like walking a forest trail) will add a new dimension in their lifestyle. The challenges are many as seniors might be hesitant to use digital media. This could be eased if real world experiences are created with easy to use interfaces. Also, they can use digital media to keep in touch socially. Interestingly, games have been found to be better than anti-depressants for solving depression problems.
Other Grandmas and Gaming
Perhaps it was the effect of one of her oldest and dearest friends being diagnosed with dementia. I’m not sure what had got my mom interested in her grandson’s games, but I’m glad she was. Computer games are a great way to bridge the generation gap.