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Game Industry Facing a "Collision" With Aging Gamers

| 17 May 2010 16:13
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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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