Game Industry Facing a "Collision" With Aging Gamers

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Game Industry Facing a "Collision" With Aging Gamers

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A new report suggests the videogame industry is at risk of losing $3 billion in potential revenue if it fails to accommodate the infirmities and decrepitude of an increasingly-aging American gamer demographic.

A new paper called "Gaming on a Collision Course: Averting significant revenue loss by making games accessible to older Americans" speculates that as the average age of videogamers continues to advance, the industry faces a "significant loss of both sales and customers" unless it takes steps to ensure that games remain accessible to everyone.

"Many gamers started playing Atari in the '70s and '80s and are now 50 years and older. They may still want to be gamers, but, as they age, they may not be able to because of disability or health conditions. They're essentially being shut out," said AbleGamers Foundation co-founder Stephanie Walker. "The time for making games accessible is now."

Currently, almost 50 million Americans suffer from some sort of disability and with videogame systems in 65 percent of U.S. households, that translates into as many as 32.5 million potential customers lost because of a lack of accessibility options in most mainstream games. As the likelihood of disability increases dramatically with age, the report claims that a "collision" between gaming and accessibility is coming within the next five years and that the displacement of aging gamers could cost the industry as much as $3 billion.

"This paper clearly demonstrates that the face of the typical gamer is changing and game manufacturers need to adapt or risk alienating what is eventually going to become a significant customer base," said 7-128 Software COO Eleanor Robinson, herself a gamer in her 70s. "The good news is that by making video games accessible to gamers with disabilities, which includes older gamers, game manufacturers will unlock a lucrative, paying market of consumers for years to come." Robinson will discuss the report, which can be read in full here (PDF format) at the upcoming Game Accessibility Day, which is being hosted by the AbleGamers Foundation on May 25 in Boston.

A rumor that Activision CEO Bobby Kotick has responded to the growing demand for age-related accessibility in videogames by initiating work on a new multi-colored game controller that turns black on a gamer's 21st birthday remained unconfirmed as of press time.

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Huh...and here I thought that all this motion control malarkey was aimed at older gamers...must tell my mam she is too decrepit at 52 to play the Wii and she has to wait until something new comes out to bridge the gap...

Also...easy mode anyone?

If I read this right, they want game "manufacturers" to roll back all techonological advances on control schemes to where we were in 1975 and are claiming that the industry is "loosing" 3 billions because they haven't already? And also it's specifically about US inhabitants and specifically NOT about the other 5,800,000,000 people on this planet?

How would a game for people with a hysical disability work, they would have no way to interact with the gme.

The last paragraph was a nice touch.

I don't understand what kind of disability keeps someone from playing video games.

I suppose if you lost the use of your hands or went blind...but there's really no way to make games accessible to those people anyway. Don't tell me they're just talking about making games more simple, because these are the people who were around for some of the hardest games in history. I doubt they're looking for more Peggle clones.

Hopefully I won't be playing videogames on my 21st birthday

shaboinkin:
Hopefully I won't be playing videogames on my 21st birthday

Maybe not ON your birthday 'cuz you'll have better stuff to do that day. :P

Games are only going to get more popular as time goes on though. They advertise new games in theaters, on billboards, everywhere. Nothing wrong with being a gamer of any age. I don't know anyone who continues to claim that games are just for kids now.

50 is not decrepit, hell people are expected to work until 65, and what could possibly be easier than keeping your arms still and pressing buttons?

I don't have any idea what this is saying, are they saying there needs to be more games that depend on big motion tracking gestures with little dependence on buttons to counteract age related arthritis? Or are they saying saying there should be games that are less active to play for people with are related osteoporosis and just have simple interfaces that require the minimum movement?

This report is pretty bloody vague.

And other media didn't ever have to adapt for "ageing audience", Movies didn't suddenly have to be at a larger volume and with larger subtitle sizes and important details to counteract vision/hearing degradation.

Xzi:
I don't understand what kind of disability keeps someone from playing video games.

Parkinson's and arthritis come to mind...

What?

Unless you get arthritis in your hands (bummer) then there's not much that's going to stop you from pushing buttons on a controller/keyboard and mouse.

I hope the industry takes this seriously. Last night I was playing Sonic 2 and it hit me - most HD games I need to wear my glasses to play competitively (or at least cofortably). Sonic 2 however, with its pixelated and CRT-tuned graphics, I could play just fine with no glasses. It's been a problem for ages that some people can't read the text in HD games on regular definition screens (Dead Rising and Mass Effect I'm looking squarely at you two!), I think the option to enable text featuring larger fonts and shorter paragraphs (in order to fit it all on screen) is something game designers should seriously consider for the sake of older gamers and vision handicapped players - of which I am sure tons, I can't be the only person who developed crippling astigmatism using their PC.

Treblaine:

And other media didn't ever have to adapt for "ageing audience", Movies didn't suddenly have to be at a larger volume and with larger subtitle sizes and important details to counteract vision/hearing degradation.

You don't have to jump up and down for an hour to keep the movie playing.

That was a stellar failure of an example. They didn't have to change because they are not interactive media, all you do is sit and listen or sit and watch. Even there, there was change to accommodate disability: Closed captioning system ring a bell?

Well, it was domethong they would need to addtress eventually. However I don't think they are going to lose revenue as there are new gamers everyday taking place of older ones.

Really if anything it offers a new Market!

What disabilties (beyond ones that would make ANY game unplayable no matter how "accesible" to old people) would stop someone playing games?

Yeah, arthritis is going to be a big problem. I'm in my mid-thirties, and already I can feel that starting to cramp my gaming.

Woodsey:
What?

Unless you get arthritis in your hands (bummer) then there's not much that's going to stop you from pushing buttons on a controller/keyboard and mouse.

I can understand what this report is saying. I mean if you look at movies, books, sculptures, comics, TV, etc, you can be 70+ years old with back problems and still enjoy these activities. But you can't do that right now with the way games are going. You got over complicated controls (FPS, Sport games) or over complicated menus (RPG's).

Maybe an easy fix is to have a simple control of 4 usable buttons but new actions can be assigned to the other unused buttons.

Andy Chalk:

A rumor that Activision CEO Bobby Kotick has responded to the growing demand for age-related accessibility in videogames by initiating work on a new multi-colored game controller that turns black on a gamer's 21st birthday remained unconfirmed as of press time.

If I hear any references to a carousel or renewal, I'm running for it.

Here i thought people in their 50's are still fairly healthy, at least healthy enough to be able to work, let alone able to handle a controller or a mouse. I thought this was going to be about taste, that older people would not like games made for teens and young adults and would want something with more depth.

I found myself just wanting to know what games Eleanor the 70 year old gamer plays.

But I think folks thinking about this have a point. While I can't help but be aware this is probably marketing goobly-gook also, age-related trouble with games are going to face a market that wants to keep expanding beyond healthy young people. Vision and hearing troubles are probably on the forefront. Like this above comment about fonts and HDTV, hearing issues need to be considered too. And before you say "just turn up," remember that it's not just loudness. As folks get older being about to distinguish sounds from the background noise can become very difficult. Seperate audio settings for soundtrack, sound effects, voices and more would all be appreciated. Heck, I'd like that, and I'm only in my 40's. (Too much car stereo in my youth.) I think this will become really relevent once this current generation of ear-buds-are-way-too-loud get old like me.

I don't even want to go into how lame I felt when I got too serious trying to win against the kids on Wii Sports and woke up the next day with a shoulder too stiff to move. Jeez. You whipper-snappers have no idea the joys that await you.

Andy Chalk:

Currently, almost 50 million Americans suffer from some sort of disability and with videogame systems in 65 percent of U.S. households, that translates into as many as 32.5 million potential customers lost because of a lack of accessibility options in most mainstream games.

I don't really understand how that logic is supposed to work.

Thank god old people aren't gaming. The last thing I'd want to do when I'm 64 is argue with little, screaming bastards over a mic.

*runs off and patents a dual gamepad/zimmerframe*

manaman:

Treblaine:

And other media didn't ever have to adapt for "ageing audience", Movies didn't suddenly have to be at a larger volume and with larger subtitle sizes and important details to counteract vision/hearing degradation.

You don't have to jump up and down for an hour to keep the movie playing.

That was a stellar failure of an example. They didn't have to change because they are not interactive media, all you do is sit and listen or sit and watch. Even there, there was change to accommodate disability: Closed captioning system ring a bell?

Well I never had to jump up and down to play Metal Gear Solid, I never had to jump up and down to play Half Life 2. In fact it seems to be only the RECENT development of Wii, Move and Natal that require much physical investment, the core of video game still don't require large and tiring motion-sensing gestures but just a keyboard + mouse or gamepad which are designed to be as easy as possible to use. Actually, the only thing requiring close to "jumping" are Dance Dance Revolution games.

But have most games not had subtitles as standard for decades now? And sorry I didn't associate that with age related hearing loss but with people who are deaf for variety of non-ageing related reasons. You want to beat me round the head with a baseball bat for that? Or maybe do you want to calm down for a sec.

Why are you getting so aggressive and combative with me when I just wanted some damn clarification of (a) what they want to be done, and (b) where they think the industry is going in the wrong direction at the moment.

Andy Chalk:

A rumor that Activision CEO Bobby Kotick has responded to the growing demand for age-related accessibility in videogames by initiating work on a new multi-colored game controller that turns black on a gamer's 21st birthday remained unconfirmed as of press time.

I'd heard that rumour; along with the one that says on your 30th birthday, you get a RROD on the palm of your hand.

(mega-geek reference)

What are they saying? We are going to lose game sales because old people are sick of the Wii?

-Facepalm- I don't get it, what disabilities are there to stop you playing Video Games? Do you mean mental ones, or stuff like arthritis.

Either way, this report seems silly, we are still making games for all kind of people.

What I read from this article is that its not down to them finding it hard to read text and the like (although that is a valid point), it looks like they expect games to be made simpler and easier to access for your non-game playing gran, which equals there goes any difficulty, on account of the fact that that chunk of the market can't keep up!

Woodsey:
What?

Unless you get arthritis in your hands (bummer) then there's not much that's going to stop you from pushing buttons on a controller/keyboard and mouse.

Yeah, I mean there are people with disabilities, but not all of the 50+ gamers have them. And most disabilities don't(critically) mess up thou's gaming abilities.

tcurt:

I don't even want to go into how lame I felt when I got too serious trying to win against the kids on Wii Sports and woke up the next day with a shoulder too stiff to move. Jeez. You whipper-snappers have no idea the joys that await you.

Pardon me if I'm being rude or something, but usually if you spend a whole day at the office(keep your muscles inert), and then do sudden movements (without a little warming up), you're bound to experience pain the next day, no matter the age.
But it do agree that the Wii is dangerous(remember how that poor girl turned nymphomaniac after her Wii Fit session?), because the sensors aren't as good as they advertise them, this leads to unneeded movement, and problems. But enough about the Wii, we all know it's evil and sorts, so we should stay away from it, and it's "sports".

Okay. I feel relatively safe in saying that I'm one of the older gamers on this site.

And this article is fucking BULLSHIT.

Seriously: how in the fuck are people touting the Wii as a theraputic device on one hand, and then claim that the gaming industry is going to alienate the 'infirm' older gamers? Has anybody at this 'Ablegamers' site actually looked at data regarding the correlation between reaction times and age? If they did, I think they just might find that button-press response does NOT degrade as much as other timed-response physical reactions, and- ergo- video games enjoy a higher 'retention' rate than virtually every other form of recreation out there (with the exception- maybe- of golf).

Sounds like somebody is trying to sensationalize and grab her 15 minutes of fame a bit early.

Fucking quacks.

The_root_of_all_evil:

Andy Chalk:

A rumor that Activision CEO Bobby Kotick has responded to the growing demand for age-related accessibility in videogames by initiating work on a new multi-colored game controller that turns black on a gamer's 21st birthday remained unconfirmed as of press time.

I'd heard that rumour; along with the one that says on your 30th birthday, you get a RROD on the palm of your hand.

(mega-geek reference)

Technically I think you're both referencing Logan's Run, as the blurb for the forthcoming remake apparently bumped up the expiration date to the 21st birthday for some unknown reason, while the 1976 film adaptation kept the original 30th birthday deadline (ha ha) but changed the crystal in your palm turning black to the whole "flashing red" deal we know and geek out to.

RENEW!

hmm I fail at youtube embedding

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xSnLU9nyFSA

Gildan Bladeborn:

Technically I think you're both referencing Logan's Run,

rembrandtqeinstein:
RENEW!

Jammy dodgers for you sirs! ;)

Speaking as one of those ageing gamers, having been born in 1981 and having started gaming around 1986-87, if the Gaming Industry is facing a collision with anything it's total fucking incompetence. According to the Guinness Book of Video Game Records 2008, Doris Self, the world's oldest competitive female gamer (as of 2008) was still playing competitively until her death in November of 2006 at the age of 79.
Between this and that used game bullshit, if the Game Industry keeps this up they're going to alienate all their customers.

What makes a game better suited for people with age related disabilities?
I guess always make sure you can control the volume for separate things (music, voices, sfx, cutscenes) and subtitle options are good, but I expect that from any good game. After all, most come with crappy music or just a few short loops that I'd rather subsitute my own music.

Brotherofwill:

Andy Chalk:

Currently, almost 50 million Americans suffer from some sort of disability and with videogame systems in 65 percent of U.S. households, that translates into as many as 32.5 million potential customers lost because of a lack of accessibility options in most mainstream games.

I don't really understand how that logic is supposed to work.

Thank god old people aren't gaming. The last thing I'd want to do when I'm 64 is argue with little, screaming bastards over a mic.

'Some sort of disability' probably includes all those disabilities that the US specialise in obesity, ADD, Bi-polar and so on. As long as you have hands you can play games

and even you dont, you can play Dance Dance revolution I suppose

My dad takes a look at a controller and he is instantly turned off from playing. "Back in my day, we didn't need 13 buttons!" and all that.

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