We might not always want to admit it, but gaming has always been at the leading edge of innovative tech. When Atari and Commodore computers started to appear in American homes in the 1980s, they were mostly used for games long before householders started making tentative use of spreadsheets and word processors to make life easier. Likewise, when early versions of Windows became prevalent in offices, most of us got to grips with Minesweeper and Solitaire before anything else.
Today, mobile is the tech that none of us can live without. In the US, smartphone penetration stands at more than 85 percent, and once again, more people than you might think spend more time than they might want to admit playing games.
Time stands still for nobody
In many minds, however, the visualization of a “typical gamer” hasn’t changed since the 1980s. The point is, those nerdy youngsters with poor social skills grew older and are now parents, or even grandparents.
It’s really no different to any other innovative entertainment medium. When gramophones hit the market at the turn of the 20th century, of course it was the young adults who were most enthralled, and the same went for the first moving picture shows a decade later. By the 1940s, people of all ages were playing records and watching movies, not because they suddenly appealed to older people too, but because people in their 50s and 60s had been doing so for practically all their lives.
The aging gamer population
Against that background, we really shouldn’t be surprised by the news that three quarters of Americans aged 50+ play games at least weekly (see https://www.gamesindustry.biz/esa-the-50-plus-gamer-crowd-has-passed-40m-in-the-us for more details) and more than half of those who do so play every day.
These are, after all, the same people who cut their game-playing teeth on Frogger and Chuckie Egg while still of elementary school age, and who graduated to SEGA Saturns and Nintendo Game Boys in their teens. 35 years on, there’s no more reason for them to have lost interest in gaming than there would have been for their grandparents to lose interest in listening to records.
From platform fun to serious casino business
Of course, that’s not to say those who were born in the 1960s or early 70s are still playing 16-bit platform games, any more than they are watching the same TV shows as they did 40 odd years ago. Tastes change and mature, and that is something that game developers need to keep in mind. Some game genres, such as sport games or word games, are evergreen and appeal to all ages.
In the US, in particular, however, there is one genre that is specifically aimed at the adult market and is growing more rapidly than any other. The casino has always represented the closest thing to an adventure playground for sophisticated adults, and US gamblers have taken to online betting in millions. The Legit Gambling Sites website (https://www.legitgamblingsites.com/online-casinos/) gives an indication of just how many online betting sites and mobile betting apps US players have to choose from.
Classic games are truly timeless
The most recent data echoes the conclusions of a survey commissioned by AARP back in 2016 – except the number of gamers over 50 has increased from 40 percent to 75 percent, as seven more years of Generation X-ers have turned 50.
In terms of the types of games preferred, however, there is solid evidence that, like music albums, classic games really are timeless. Even those over-50s who do not play casino games still cite card games near the top of the list. This goes some way to explaining the recent popularity of social casino apps. These differ from regular casinos in that you are not obliged to gamble real money but can take on either friends or strangers at games like solitaire and win in-game tokens for completing the game faster than anyone else.
Staying in touch through gaming
This social aspect of gaming has been important since the Farmville hype a decade ago, but naturally, it took on a new significance during the events of 2020 and 2021. Those experiences underlined the importance of staying in touch with friends and family. Thousands have found that doing so over a game of cards or chess or even Scrabble, where there are live chat windows available, is better than staring at one another on Zoom searching for something to say.
Ultimately, game trends might come and go, but gaming is here to stay for one and all. And unlike the gamers, the classics will never grow old!