Taking Up Video Games in Retirement

Nintendo’s Wii gains popularity among graying gamers

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Retirees have long enjoyed playing golf, tennis, and bowling. But increasingly they are playing these sports and others games digitally. Some 13 million retirees now play video games, according to market research firm Packaged Facts. And women are equally as likely as men to take up the hobby. “Among the senior population, video games are being used to boost brain power and encourage physical activity,” says Tatjana Meerman, publisher of Packaged Facts.

Nintendo’s Wii has the most popularity among retirees. Andrew Carle, director of the Assisted Living/Senior Housing Administration program at George Mason University, estimates that between 10 and 20 percent of retirement and assisted living communities currently have a Wii. “These games fall under a new industry I call Nana technology, as in technology for your Nana,” says Carle, who was a spokesperson for Nintendo during the release of Brain Age2, a game heavily marketed to graying gamers worried about losing their mental sharpness. “I've defined this as any microchip based technology designed, intended, or that can otherwise be used to improve quality of life for older adults."