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What Gamers Want: Silver Gamers
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What Gamers Want: Silver Gamers

July 10, 2008 Article Start Previous Page 2 of 3 Next

4. Jargon

It's not until you sit down with people who don't have the same gaming history as yourself that you realize how much jargon you use.

This was as true for our explanations of how to play as it was for the games themselves. "D-Pad" is a good example, and we had to think for a while before we remembered this was an acronym for "directional pad".

But then what is a "pad" in the real world? Our players found some of this language quite excluding and at times drew frustrated reactions. "Why can't they just use everyday English, for heaven's sake?"

"Leveling up" was another point of confusion. "What am I leveling? Sounds like I need a spirit level? And how do I make it go up?" This admittedly combative (but very justifiable) comment came from one of our grandparents.

5. Variety of Subjects

As we worked our way through the stack of test games on the table, more than one of our subjects raised their confusion at the sheer volume of games. "Why do we need another driving game? Isn't it the same as the last one?"

And once the point had been raised, it was hard to defend the overlap between some of the games. Spiderwick Chronicles and Harry Potter on Wii are essentially very similar games when you get down to it.

This duplication in some areas was problematic for them, when so many other types of game were ignored. "I'd love to play a game about swimming, or how about property restoration? That would make a great subject."

Although we struggled to suggest games that involved grandparent-grandchild relationships in anything more than a passing reference, there were some recent Nintendo titles that started to broaden their subjects.

Clubhouse Games, for example, was able to come to our rescue and provide some of the more obscure card games they wanted to play. Deca Sports on Wii was also appreciated for its unusual selection of sports - ice skating and curling were both big hits.

6. Play Across Generations

Although we had collected together people of a similar age, many of them wanted to reflect upon how this experience would help them play games with their families. They were particularly interested in games that could be played by people of differing ages and abilities.

"I feel like this is something I could really have in common with my nephews," said one participant. Another agreed by saying "I'm really enjoying some of these games. I can't wait to share this with my granddaughter".

Games that enabled players of different abilities to play together were really popular. At times we felt like we were training our gamers up to be able to go off and play with their families.

The idea of dynamic handicapping that arose in the Family Gamers session was well received here, too. But for our Silver Gamers the emphasis was as much on playing with different ages as it was on different abilities.

Smarty Pants on the Wii (again) did well here as it provided questions for different age groups. This enabled a family of players to play against in each other.

They found the Wii-mote inspired dancing a little daunting at first, but once they realized it meant more points for their answer, they were soon happily hopping around with the best of them.

7. Posture

One aspect of control that caused a bit of a hiccup for some was the expectation that the player would be standing up to play for an entire session.

On that note, general crowd pleaser Wii Sports didn't score too well here, as its motions were problematic when seated. "I spend all day on my feet! I don't want to do it all evening as well," remarked Joan, who works as a nurse. "I don't want to stand up to watch a film, so I don't see why I should have to do it to play a game. This is supposed to be relaxing, isn't it?"

EA's Tiger Woods came to our rescue, as it provided a really popular seated control feature. This sit down swing option can be adjusted for each player, so a group of players can decide how they want to control the game individually. The seated option translates the swing from the usual vertical motion to a horizontal action. This enables gamers to opt for a sitting posture if they want to avoid getting up for each shot.

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