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The Elderly Enjoy Brain-Training With Video Games More Than The Young

by Lennart Nacke on 09/29/09 06:30:00 am   Expert Blogs

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The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
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Does it matter for the elderly whether they play brain-training games with paper or computer? Yes, it does. In the next issue of CyberPsychology & Behavior, you can read about a recent study from us that has analysed the advantages of brain-training games for young and old.

We found that brain-training games on paper are more effective and efficient than on a Nintendo DS, which refers to the shorter task completion time and the lower error rate on paper. Since we were looking at one the arithmetic challenges in Dr. Kawashima's Brain Training, these metrics were readily accessible from the game console.

Nevertheless, for all our participants (elderly and younger control group), the video game was more arousing and induced a heightened sense of gaming flow. Flow was described by Mihály Csíkszentmihályi as a peak experience or sensation that people feel when they are totally involved in something.

When we compared the control group with the elderly, we found - to our suprise - that the brain-training game correlated with positive feelings for the elderly, but with negative feelings for the young. This result is exciting as it supports the notion that your grandparents will enjoy a brain-training game much more than you might think after playing it yourself.

Dr. Shock puts it nicely, saying that each "institution for the elderly should provide gaming opportunities." I agree with him, thinking that we can see a lot of potential for elderly gamers, who appreciate logic games for their positive mental benefits and may, hence, have more fun playing them. Maybe, we will even see "silver game designers" creating games for exactly this elderly demographic (the silver gamers) in the future.

If you have more questions about the study, feel free to email me at len at acagamic com.

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