True to the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) claim that growing older does not necessarily mean “game over,” video games have boomed among people aged 50 and above in the US. The number of gamers who are senior adults increased from 40.2 million in 2016 to 50.6 million in 2019. As you plan to join the list of growing older gamers, you may need to decide the best games to play.
The best video games for seniors have moderate-impact physical and mental activities. They require players to make judgments about situations, explore their creativity, and engage in memory exercises. These games are also easy to play, have vivid, bold graphics, and require proper coordination.
Seniors can play several video games to sharpen their memory, improve coordination, and stave off diseases while having fun. The rest of this article will describe some of the best video games for seniors in detail, what you should consider when picking video games for seniors, and the benefits of video games.
Neuroracer is a custom-designed video game that challenges players to engage rapidly and accurately in a 3D environment.
This close-looped, cognitive optimization game uses adaptive algorithms to challenge players’ navigation and response. You are rewarded for improving both, which requires multitasking. As a senior, you’d be interested in enhancing your cognitive abilities, vigilance, and memories. Neuroracer enables you to do that!
Do you love word puzzles?
Wordscapes combines traditional crossword puzzles with letter scrambles. You should aim to create as many words as possible with the letters provided by filling the crossword’s blanks.
This video game is excellent for cognitive training. As you grow old, your memory will tend to get weaker unless you practice. However, you can use this game to challenge yourself and learn a thing or two. Although some of the crosswords may be difficult, it’s possible to complete them.
Being a senior comes with its drawbacks. Your muscles can no longer endure strenuous exercises. For that reason, participating in rigorous physical activities becomes a herculean task.
However, the creators of Wii Sports had your predicament in mind. The game combines light impact exercises with mental activity—the perfect combination for your mind and body. The interactive sports game offers tennis, baseball, bowling, golf, and boxing.
Each of the games we’ve mentioned allows you to participate in light workouts. You can do the activities alone or add fun to them by partaking in group exercises with friends. We’d recommend playing with friends as often as possible—you can crack jokes, cheer each other up, and reminisce about your youth while at it.
The Wii Balance Board is another beneficial aspect of this video game—you can use it to improve your balance. If you want to keep fit, we recommend that you start playing this incredible video game.
This video describes how you can play tennis on Wii Sports:
Still, on physical activities, 1-2 Switch requires you to be active as you respond to cues and rumbles from special controllers.
In this multiplayer game, you face your opponent instead of the screen as you play different sports, such as badminton and tennis. The social aspect means you’ll never be lonely when playing this game.
“If music be the food of love, play on.” – William Shakespeare.
Did you relish performances by legendary bands during your youth? If that is the case, you can recreate the memories by playing Guitar Hero. This game is a unique musical blast. Unlike the traditional video games that come with controllers, Guitar Hero comes with a toy guitar that you can use to play seven different games.
Each game is unique and has excellent setlists with songs from famous bands, such as Queen and The Beatles. Additionally, the video game is designed for different consoles and comes in different versions for PC and mobile users.
If you want to reconnect with your childhood and reawaken the rock star in you, we recommend that you play Guitar Hero.
Super Mario games have defied the odds of time—thanks to their simplicity and fun-filled activities.
Super Mario 3D World is another game that seniors may enjoy. A notable pro of this video game is that it does not require one to be an expert to complete the levels. Anyone can play Super Mario games, an aspect that distinguishes them from most games that are restricted to individuals above certain ages.
According to New Cyber Senior, playing Super Mario 3D World stimulates the hippocampus, a vital part of the brain that helps in memory retention. This means you can stave off illnesses, such as Alzheimer’s disease, by partaking in this game.
The challenging, fun activities in Super Mario 3D World can help you improve your reaction time, balance, and coordination, things that tend to deteriorate with age. By playing Super Mario 3D, you’d be reducing the chances of suffering from memory loss illnesses, such as dementia.
This video game allows you to use your imagination to enjoy vivid, immersive gameplay. As a result, you can play this game to improve your critical thinking skills as you advance to more challenging levels.
Super Mario 3D World is a multiplayer game, meaning seniors can enjoy the vivid 3D world with friends.
Besides Super Mario 3D World, you can play the iconic Super Mario Bros. Throughout the game, you will travel through colorful worlds in a quest to rescue Princess Peach. In case you’re stuck, you can watch the computer play and give it another try.
You acquire problem-solving skills while improving your memory by doing that—this is the sort of game that boosts your hippocampus!
One of the most role-playing games, World of Warcraft, is more popular among seniors who like engaging, in-depth games. This game follows a captivating storyline that is essential for sharpening players’ cognitive abilities.
This game presents several challenges to players as they advance to higher levels. Mostly, players have to think critically and act fast, which would benefit them as a senior. Also, the difficulty levels are customizable, meaning you determine the level of challenge. However, that does not mean the game is easy—you must be ready for the challenges!
This game allows you to create a character that must complete different quests. It also triggers your imagination and creativity as you fight supernatural beings. This means you’ll be alert, especially during combat. This can improve your attention span, concentration, and thinking ability.
World of Warcraft has vivid and bold graphics, and if you’re a decent player, you can reap the benefits we’ve mentioned above.
You would feel excited to play against other seniors from all over the world, right? World of Warcraft allows you to do that by playing online. How about you make new friends while enjoying this popular game?
Animal Crossing: New Horizons is another video game with an exciting storyline that seniors can follow. In this simulation game, you play the role of a mayor of a town full of animals. You must perform specific routine activities to earn “bells,” which means the currency you can use to buy things.
This game’s beauty is that it does not require you to perform strenuous tasks; you get to have fun alongside cute animals. Animal Crossing: New Horizons also allows you to explore and express your creativity. You can customize different characters’ appearances and purchase items, such as furniture, and furnish your in-game home as you desire.
The game allows you to partake in activities that you would do in real life, such as photography and swimming. You can include your friends in the game by playing it online with them.
PGA Tour is an excellent simulation, sports theme game for seniors who love golf. This is one of the favorite pastimes for retired people. If you’re an ardent golf fan, then hurdles, such as the weather, lockdowns, and old age, shouldn’t deter you from enjoying this video game version of the sport.
Several PGA Tour versions allow seniors to play against pro golfers, such as Justin Thomas, on real-life courses, notably, East Lake Golf Club and TPC Sawgrass on Xbox and Playstation consoles or on mobile devices.
You can customize your player, their clothes, and golfing equipment. Players can also create golf courses, meaning PGA Tour allows you to express your creativity.
Loneliness is something you’ve probably experienced more as you grow older. Your sons, daughters, and grandchildren are probably busy with their careers and studies.
However, you can play online PGA Tour tournaments with friends to stave off that feeling. Besides getting a glimpse of what it’s like to play on your dream golf courses, you benefit from this video game through improved coordination and problem-solving.
Retaining your memory abilities is one of your greatest desires. If that is the case, then Old Man’s journey is one of the games you can play. The game itself is based on memory. Notably, you have to help an elderly man to navigate the countryside.
As you play the game, you discover several aspects of the grandfather figure’s fascinating life. According to Age UK, playing video games is a brilliant way for you to connect with the young. For instance, you can play Ibb and Obb, Abzu, and Deep Time Walk to build stronger relations with your grandchildren.
As you get older, you need games that offer new ways to stay hopeful and optimistic about life, and Old Man’s Journey enables you to do exactly that! The game triggers your critical thinking abilities as you begin to appreciate that some things add more value to life.
Growing old should not be an excuse to stop exploring new things. Flower allows you to explore new mysteries across different beautiful sceneries.
Players can carry clusters of colorful flower petals around diverse landscapes and witness the petals start a life of their own. You get to fly above the countryside and lush fields as you try to attain different goals. There’s no specific time limit within which you must achieve the set objectives. That means you can casually explore diverse landscapes throughout a session.
According to That Video Game Blog, Flower can be viewed as an interactive poem. It evokes your emotions as you experience the different sceneries. Besides, you navigate through gentle, peaceful environments on some levels, while other levels have utterly depressing landscapes.
You connect with your emotions throughout the game. You may encounter environments that remind you of the places you’ve toured since childhood.
Candy Crush Saga is one of the most popular mobile video games. The aim of the game is to clear the board by aligning three or more matching pieces in one row. It’s an excellent game for keeping your vision and mental muscles in tip-top shape as you identify matching colors.
Although this game is simple, you should never underestimate it. The higher levels are trickier and need you to be keener. However, that is not a drawback—your aim is to challenge your brain, right?
One of the exciting games on this list, Flight Simulator Xtreme, is the go-to game for thrill-seeking seniors. This popular game allows you to steer airplanes from top brands, such as Airbus, Boeing, and Learjet.
You can participate in missions, become a commercial pilot, or experience breathtaking aerial views of different landscapes in the game.
This game was not designed for younger players—it’s quite complicated. However, you can consider the complexities as a challenge and aim to complete several missions as you discover new things. After all, it’s never too late for you to challenge yourself.
You practice coordination as you improve on muscle reflex and thinking abilities during gameplay. The main con to this simulation game is that you can only download it on an iPad.
Minecraft is one of the few games that can be played by the young and the old alike. As a result, you should play it as often as possible with your kids and grandkids. That would help alleviate your loneliness as you connect with them while having fun.
That is because it is a “sandbox” game, meaning it is whatever you make it. Notably, the game allows you to design your world to become whatever you like. You can build a house, an automobile, or an airplane. Because of that, we can say Minecraft gives you a chance to be creative while having fun.
Alternatively, you can play the story mode, which avails villains you can fight. You’ll also enjoy the game’s soothing, relaxing, and rhythmic background music and sounds besides exploring the visually appealing yet complex square world in the game.
This YouTube video explains how you can play Minecraft as a newbie:
If you loved math back in college, then you’d love to try out 2048. This is an easy-to-understand video game that you can play on your phone or computer. Your objective would be to add like numbers during gameplay while attempting to score 2048 or more points.
You don’t have to worry about being a rookie at gaming since you do everything with the swipe of a finger. 2048 improves your cognitive abilities as you do mental calculations. You do not compete against anyone, meaning you’ll be aiming to beat your highest scores in every attempt.
The Layton series of games are perfect for seniors who seek puzzling adventures and baffling brain teasers. These games are popular for their fun stories and puzzles. Also, they have little to no urgency. You can take time to learn as you solve different puzzles. We would recommend these games since they enable you to improve eye-hand coordination.
The aim of this game is to defend your home from brain-eating zombies. You do that by planting different types of plants in strategic locations. This game keeps your concentration and critical thinking skills in top shape as you strategize how to protect your home.
Treasure Hunt is the perfect game for seniors who love adventure. The game’s pirate theme makes it more thrilling. You have to remember the correct items you have found in pirate ship’s rooms to earn virtual coins, usually gold. Therefore, you’d be sharpening your memory skills as you advance through more challenging levels.
Trivia Crack is another video game that boosts your memory. You can have a head-to-head quiz with family and friends. Simply spin the wheel to determine which category you’ll be quizzed from and answer the subsequent questions. You can also chat with your friends through this game.
What to Consider Before Choosing a Video Game for Seniors
Now that we’ve described the best 20 video games for seniors, you may have identified several of them that you’d like to try out. However, we wouldn’t like you to start an endless trial and error experiment—that would be costly!
To avoid that, this article recommends that seniors consider the following before choosing video games:
Let’s consider this hypothetical scenario:
You’ve never been interested in math. You consider it demanding and strain when summing up numbers. Because we mentioned 2048 as one of the best games for seniors, you hurriedly downloaded it and have made some in-app purchases. However, you end up disappointed because you don’t enjoy the game.
What do you think led to the circumstances above? Your guess is as good as mine. It would be better to choose games that simulate what you like doing. For example, Flower would be a better choice if you love beautiful sceneries or spent the better part of your youth traveling worldwide.
This term sounds intimidating, right?
Don’t let it intimidate you. By platform, we mean the technology you’ll use to play the game. For example, will you play on a PC or on your phone?
Before choosing a game, you must consider the platforms on which it’s available. For instance, if you’re bedbound, it would be counterproductive to purchase a game you can only play on the PC. Conversely, we’d suggest that you buy a mobile-based game.
You also need to consider the ergonomics of your game’s platform. For example, an iPhone has smaller controls than a PC or an Xbox. Therefore, you may find it too difficult to use your phone’s controls. As a result, it is advisable to consider the platform on which you’ll play the game and its user-friendliness.
Tip: Pick games that are available on easy-to-use platforms for a better gameplay experience.
One of the common mistakes seniors make when starting out on video games is underestimating the games’ complexity and the kits they buy.
It’s very easy to make a similar mistake, especially if there’s no one to guide you. You must consider your ability before purchasing any of the mentioned games. As this article advises, you should start off by playing the free versions of the games that match your interests to feel the play. Chances are high you’ll end up frustrated and give up if you do not follow this advice.
You should start with basic games to build up confidence and determine if you’d be interested in continuing to advanced levels. Once you feel ready to buy the premium version of your preferred game, do not hesitate to ask a younger person to help you learn more and explore new in-game challenges.
Do you enjoy playing video games all by yourself? In that case, you can pick games that you can play on any platform.
Similarly, you’d pick such types of games if you intend to challenge other players online or play against the computer. However, you may prefer in-person games with friends. In such a case, you’ll need to factor in the costs of the special kits and consoles that you need for gameplay.
Tip: There are several “Video Game Communities” with players from all over the world. You can search on the internet and join them to socialize and learn from others as you play.
The Benefits of Video Games for Seniors
Having described the aspects to consider when choosing a game, let us highlight how you’d benefit from playing video games.
Here are a few of them:
Improved Emotional Well-Being
It’s indisputable that doing what you enjoy improves your emotional health. The same case holds for seniors who enjoy playing video games. According to this study, senior gamers are less likely to suffer from depression. Instead, they have better health, well-being, and social functioning than non-gamers.
As we have mentioned previously, some games require physical interaction, balance, and coordination. Specifically, Wii Sports and 1-2 Switch can help you develop better balance and faster walking speeds. In an empirical study, the authors discovered that seniors who partake in video games reduce their chances of falling by 42%.
Enhanced Cognitive Ability
Video games can help improve your mental capacity. According to this study by the University of California – San Francisco, playing video games significantly improves cognitive ability while reversing the signs of aging in seniors. You not only sharpen your short-term memory but can also learn to remember names, dates, addresses, and phone numbers with more practice.
Besides, switching different activities during games can boost your mental flexibility and multitasking abilities.
Reduced Risk of Alzheimer’s
Did you know that approximately 5.7 million seniors in the US suffer from Alzheimer’s? This progressive brain disease is also the fifth leading cause of death among seniors. Nonetheless, this journal article reports that playing video games increases hippocampal grey matter and reduces Alzheimer’s risk factors in seniors.
Lots of Fun
When was the last time you had a thrilling gaming experience as friends and family cheered you on? Playing video games is undoubtedly one of the ways to have fun. It gets better when you think of it as a non-competitive sport—you can make mistakes, learn from them, and share happy moments with everyone.
The following YouTube video explains the psychological benefits of video games in-depth:
Caution: Although we’ve emphasized its benefits, excessive gaming can be detrimental to your health. According to this article by Harvard Medical School, overuse of muscles and tendons usually result in repetitive stress injuries, which can cause numbness, weakness, and permanent injury. Besides, you’d be risking becoming an addict, which could cause withdrawal symptoms and the deterioration of social relationships.
The best video games for seniors include activities that require physical and mental effort. These games require proper coordination of movement and sight, timely reactions, and memory engagement. They are also immersive and use bold graphics.
When deciding on the games to play among the ones mentioned in this article, you should consider the following:
- Interests: Is the game’s aim consistent with your interest?
- Platform: Is it easy to use?
- Ability: Is the game or its kit too complicated for you to handle?
- Socialization: Will you play alone, online, or with friends?
- Age UK: The Best Video Games for Older People
- That Videogame Blog: Review / Flower (PSN)
- Lifeline 24: Elderly Gaming: Video Games for Older People
- Great Senior Living: 81 Top Games for Seniors and the Elderly: Fun for All Abilities
- Eligibility: The 15 Healthiest Video Games for Any Adult
- GrownGaming: The Best Video Games For Elderly Gamers
- New Cyber Senior: Best Video Games for Seniors
- Kim Komando: 10 Best Video Games for People Over 55
- Reddit: Games for Older People? (50-60, Never Played Games Before)
- University of California – San Francisco: Neuroscape
- A Place for Mom: Best Video Games for Seniors
- ScienceDirect: Successful Aging through Digital Games: Socioemotional Differences Between Older Adult Gamers and Non-Gamers
- Philips Lifeline: Seniors Enjoy Better Emotional Health from Playing Video Games
- ResearchGate: Health Benefits of Digital Video Games for Older Adults: A Systematic Review of the Literature
- Aging In Place: Digital and Trend-Forward Games For Seniors
- Alert1: The Best Video Games for Seniors and Nursing Home Residents
- We Love Our Granny: Video Games for Seniors
- Assisting Hands: Fun Online Games for Seniors
- WebMD: Games to Keep You Young
- National Institute on Aging: Video Games Show Potential in Improving Key Aspects of Memory in Older Adults
- Harvard Medical School: The Health Effects of Too Much Gaming
- The Goodman Group: Technology for Seniors: The Benefits of Video Games & VR
- Plos One: Playing Super Mario 64 Increases Hippocampal Grey Matter in Older Adults
- The Lancet: Addition Of A Non-Immersive Virtual Reality Component To Treadmill Training To Reduce Fall Risk In Older Adults (V-TIME): A Randomised Controlled Trial
- EurekAlert: Training The Older Brain In 3-D: Video Game Enhances Cognitive Control
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: At A Glance: Alzheimer’s Disease