Games devs discuss how to make games for players 55 and older

    
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Games can (and should) be for everyone, regardless of things like gender identity, race, or even age. That said, there are certain challenges to making a game for older players, which is the topic of a GamesIndustry write-up from William Taht, a 16-year veteran of mobile game dev who has previously worked on games like Angry Birds and currently is working on Bingo Bash, a game that is predominantly played by women ages 55 and up.

The article discusses a number of lessons that Taht has learned over the course of his time heading Bingo Bash, including how to make objectives clear to understand, bearing in mind physical limitations while not making things too condescending, and appreciating how older gamers shift towards luck-based or completion challenges over traditional gaming challenge. The article also talks about the differences between “old” players and “tenured” ones — players who are experienced in a game and have become loyal to it — and how to accommodate that playerbase’s needs.

Yes, we know, this is an article about a multiplayer mobile bingo game, but none of us are getting any younger and it’s a pretty insightful bit of reading for active game devs or armchair devs alike.

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Malcolm Swoboda

One way to make games for NEW players 55 and older is to, in example of narratives in games, include stories about people 55 years and older.

And include their activities. And include their political notions/focuses (I don’t even mean this in any problematic way). And adapt existing interests into a more gameified form.

We live with a media that has made games for primarily teenagers for decades, and arguably starting to make them for 20-somethings. We don’t make them for the middle-aged, so don’t expect a rapid transition except in the course of generational change.

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Malcolm Swoboda

My parents (aunt and uncle) are 60s now. In the 90s they let their kids and I play our games, but it wasn’t encouraged and only my uncle got into any of it through some early PC gaming – I remember being grounded for ripping off the packaging of Battle Chess of all things (still stupid, still disagree, they’re still weird for doing that). In the 00s they got a bit used to it, but in more ways became anti-gaming and just would not see the appeal, but same about any new electronics really. I only got my consoles and desktop PC through cousins and then paying for them myself. Not Luddites, just slow to adopt and confusing things get the boot. Now in 2020 they seem actually quicker to adopt as long as they don’t have to understand or engage with it a lot. They accept the fastest speed Internet they can get, tv streaming, mobile instead of landline, starting to accept apps. Maybe I should prepare for the shocking day I find out they got a gaming console in order to have some engaging entertainment while spending more hours indoors in their 70s+. No, it can’t happen. Could it? Nah. No. But maybe? Wow.

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rafael12104

LOL! I been away for a bit on business so I missed this (which made me chuckle on a plane through my mask).

The reason the original article Chris is writing about is condescending is because it views old folks as caricatures who populate Bingo halls and early bird breakfasts.

And I’ve seen this elsewhere too. I recently ran into a group of “young people” discussing video games and when I chimed in with some detailed analysis of my own, there was shock and awe. LOL!

I’m not there yet, but I’m getting older and it shows. And I think there is a huge wave of us that is cresting just about now. Soon, the latter years will be upon us and we will flood away the established stereotypes for “old folks.”

They will need to put a way the rummy cards and ping pong tables and add fully functional and internet connected video game stations.

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Tee Parsley

Yeah, upon meeting my favorite niece’s boyfriend, an ardent gamer, I almost immediately became ‘the cool uncle’, as we swapped analysis of Destiny 2, The Division, PS5, etc.

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Malcolm Swoboda

I don’t have to be anything but the one my second cousin can ask to play Fortnite with.

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Malcolm Swoboda

The ‘caps’ of ages I felt were really ‘gamers’ (in general; don’t slap me! I mean it as enough of a popular and accepted thing in their cohort)

-1950s –> 20s
-1960s –> 20s (otherwise its a family affair)
-1970s –> 30s
-1980s –> 30s (and if you’re 30s gaming you’re just a loser)
-1990s –> 40s
-2000s –> 40s (once you get into your career, married, kids, drop the controller or you get the shunning)
-2010s –> 50s (someone 55 today was 20 when Super Mario Bros released!)
s0
-2020s? –> 50s? 60s?
-2030s? –> 60s? 70s?

The time of senior gaming has been foreshadowed by the few senior Youtubers (largely helped and encouraged by others like their kids though), but the demo will grow in time.

*Or in other words, Silents didn’t game and still don’t unless their anomaly, Boomers mostly didn’t game but it isn’t necessarily alien to them, but Xers had some gamers and more and more may be willing to enjoy it as they retire, Yer/Millennials have accepted gaming and much of it will stick and other parts of it will grow as crazes arrive, and Gen Zers have some version of gaming native to them (whether a little handheld, up to being VR addicts). Important here is that Xers are going to be seniors before we know it, thus gaming seniors will have to be known to be a thing. Gaming clubs like the card/lawn game clubs? Retirement homes with consoles? Not now, but perhaps within years, and definitely within the next couple decades.

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Brazen Bondar

LOL OK, I needed to read this piece today. I am well over 60 and still play. I will admit however, I don’t like twitch mechanics in fighting and overly bright animation effects hurt to look at. But, I mean bingo…really? I can’t see me and the grand kid sitting down to play bingo online when we just finished the swoop races in SWTOR. I will be chuckling about this and Schlag’s gif for the rest of the day. Thanks Massivelyop.

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ichi sakari

i must not be normal

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Castagere Shaikura

I got hooked into video gaming late. It all started with friends I had talked me into buying a PC and this internet thing back in 99. (I miss those days) I was close to 40 when I played my first video game Tiberian Sun from Westwood. Now all those older friends are into single-player RPGs or ARPG’s and long campaign board games. Not one of them ever played Bingo. One of my fondest memories in LOTRO was being in a guild and playing with two older Grandparents from England that loved Tolkien. And they got me through a lot of tough quests and had so much joy on TeamSpeak when I completed something. I really miss them and hope they are still around.

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Phubarrh

60 here. If I can just drag myself away from my second EQ2 runthrough, I’ll be wanting to tackle all the Assassin’s Creed games.

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Jon Wax

Yeah that’s all wrong

Some of us want challenge, teamwork, tactical and purpose

Purpose being the key. Yes we are supposed to kill stuff, even each other occasionally.

But therein lacks the purpose: why? What gain is there? Conquest? Disingenuous faction war?

This industry needs it’s Ridley Scott. Someone with a solid vision who won’t compromise to please investors

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IronSalamander8 .

I’m 50 myself and while under that article’s low end age, I plan to keep playing ‘gamer games’ well into my 80s. I still do well at FPS games (PvP and single player games like Dusk and Amid Evil), so agree with a lot of people here that the article comes off badly.

To hell with Bingo, I want fun games whether heavily strategic like the Dominions series or shooter action like Paladins and Rocket Arena. If you want to keep me engaged, give me something that piques my interest and is enjoyable to play.

Those around my age grew up with the first game consoles so playing video games is second nature to us. I’d rather play Adventure on an emulator than some f2p mobile garbage designed for ‘older gamers’, I can’t eyeroll that idea hard enough!

xpsync
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xpsync

Meh ok so i’m not the only “GET OFF MY LAWN” player. Homing in on 55 and more time to play now than i ever had in the last couple decades raising kids and it’s FUCKING AWESOME! Still hold my own in most games, warframe as an example. Run mythic +, mask’s, but i find when i get to a certain point i’m good and so enjoy getting back to some more casual play, like questing.

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Jon Wax

Playing bf at 50ish, there’s no way we should be coming in top 10

Yet we do.

Gonna be fighting old age every step of the way. Games help.

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mysecretid

As other’s have already said, this developer is actually talking about “how to make games you can sell to people who were never really into games as a genuine hobby, and who aren’t too interested in technological things, either”.

He’s making very broad assumptions about games and age, based on the (relatively) very narrow segment of the games market he designs for …

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mysecretid

Oh, and my 83-year-old Pops’ favorite computer game was one of the more recent iterations of Firefall, with the Borderlands franchise a close second. He still wishes the last version of Firefall would return, somehow. :-) The source article is full of shite …

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Castagere Shaikura

Hell yeah to Firefall.