One of the most underserved markets in gaming is senior citizens. I predict that over the next 10 years, as the baby boomers start to retire and are looking for ways to fill up their free time, they will start playing more video games. Let's face it, those of us taking this class will probably be playing games when we hit the retirement home.
What types of games will the seniors of the next 10 years want to play? I predict that games successfully penetrating the seniors market will require wisdom and the unique historical perspective that we all accumulate over time. What if you could recreate your own memories in a virtual environment? Yeah, I mean a holodeck, but not as a physical recreation, I mean as something on your computer. If we could recreate shared memories, this would allow for social networks where people create shared memories of events like baseball games or parties or even shared memories of other people like my sixth grade math teach...um...maybe someone else. This genre will also include games that recreate parts of daily life in which seniors can no longer participate in their real lives, such as cooking or gardening.
The user interface required for these types of games will have to be completely different from the interfaces we have today. Seniors do not have good reflexes or agility of movement. Even the WiiMote will be troublesome for seniors who are somewhat frail. When I think of the type of interface that will be useful for seniors, I think of devices such as the "Jitterbug" cell phone or even the "clapper."
I feel that this is a stand alone genre because of what I have observed when I have visited my grandmother in her nursing home. I see lots of men and women doing whatever they can to keep themselves amused. If games could be designed to give them back some of their favorite experiences, maybe there would there would be fewer seniors suffering from depression.
This genre may not be "trendy" but will make a lot of money for anyone developing these games. I hope that when I am older something like this exists. We will all be in the market for this at some point.
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