I’m sure at least a handful of you have seen this video, and for me, it was kind of fun to see someone’s grandpa having lots of fun playing a digital diversion that didn’t even exist during the years of his own youth. Video games should be a way for people of many ages to have fun together, and this video gives me hope that online games are more than just a pwnfest to make yourself feel better at another person’s expense.
Entertaining video aside, wouldn’t you want your grandparent (or even parent) to finally realize why you are so into video games? I think exposing them to our digital culture will foster more understanding and empathy between each other. Also, you won’t make such an effort convincing them to pitch in for much needed hardware upgrades and new games.
Console gaming is too easy; let’s see if you can convince your elder to start pwning the classy way (PC gaming) with these easy bits of advice:
Precautions and Preparations
First of all, remember that you’re not playing with a person in his or her prime. Their bodies and minds have been worn down with time, and you should be a little careful with them. For one, they cannot have 24-hour gameathons like you, nor can they just stuff any sweet and salty substance that passes for food into their systems.
Make sure you have a schedule planned ahead for these game training sessions, and you should also know their medication schedule as well as they do (or better, as they can get kinda forgetful). Things can get stressful and exciting during game time, so it’s also a good idea to have a medical alert device or app handy in case a health emergency occurs.
Your rig has to have certain qualities for it to be senior-friendly. Firstly, a generously large screen that’s easy on the eyes. Well, even younger people would prefer that, but it’s more of a concern when your eyes are worn down by time and age. The keyboard should be standard in size (small ones are a little troublesome for less than graceful fingers), and the mouse should also be properly sized for their hand.
You can always go keyboard and mouse shopping with your grandparent; don’t purchase anything too expensive as their gaming style and preferences might change as they learn the ropes. Also, take pride in bringing your grandpa or grandma to the computer hardware store; very few people actually get to do that.
Start with the easy stuff. It will take them some time to get used to the paradigm of computer gaming. Each of them will learn at a different pace; you’d be fortunate if you had an elder with great hand-eye coordination right off the bat. Train them with some easy button-mashing side-scroller game, or games that are graphically advanced analogues of older classical games that they may have tried.
As for the themes, it might be a good idea to get games that take place in a world or theme that they are familiar with. There are certain caveats to this, like if your grandparent had a traumatic experience in the past that was connected to it. Do check with your parent or your elder’s physician or psychiatrist, as you might not want them to recall events from the Second World War or some other dark moment in recent history, or contend with their anger issues in the virtual world.
As they learn and begin to really enjoy the PC gaming experience, look for games to play that have a cooperative modes so that you can join them in their adventures. Certain adventure games do have multiplayer modes, and if you think they’re ready for an MMORPG, be the tank/shield/healer/etc. for them as they clumsily wander into realms dominated by teenaged to early adult ripper snappers.
Oh yeah, this is where the most headaches, as well as shared fun, begins. Be a positive and encouraging presence; in this world, you are the wise and patient guide, and he or she is the pupil. Just as they passed on their values and knowledge to you, you should return the favor and do the same. Instill upon them a decent version of the gamer culture.
This is the point of the entire training program, to get them to enjoy video games as much as you do, and thereby build a bridge of common interest between people that are generations apart. Keep on playing, gamers of all ages and generations!
About the Author
Stacey Thompson is a professional writer, marketer, entrepreneur, and a lover of weird little animals. She is based in San Diego, California, and is making great progress in teaching her grandfather how to play Call of Duty. She also keeps a group blog with her best gal pals, Word Baristas.