#1. Wii Sports
Light-impact exercise allows seniors to get active without overdoing it. You use the controller to simulate the actions of bowling, golfing, boxing, tennis, and baseball.
You create a character that looks like you, which makes it a little more custom and fun. Then, you can play alone versus the computer, or against a friend for some added competition.
The technology uses a motion-sensor device you place on top of your television that reads your movements and mimics them in the game.
It’s pretty cool, and even though the Wii is an older console, it’s still a lot of fun to play and perfect for seniors who need to get moving a little but don’t enjoy or can’t do traditional exercise.
Video games like this are fun for seniors because there’s not a high level of difficulty, and it’s not too confusing or overwhelming to work the controls.
They are fairly basic to use, and instructions for each game are simple to understand. There’s even another game you can buy for the Wii called Wii Fit that allows seniors to exercise along with a companion fitness board.
With Wii Sports, you feel kind of like you’re in the game. This can definitely provide some much-needed smiles for seniors and some laughs. It’s also a good way to get a group of seniors involved, because if you have multiple controllers then several people can play together.
Games like this can get seniors moving, help sharpen focus and concentration, and most of all, just allow them to have an enjoyable time without anxiety that they’re messing up or doing something incorrect.
It’s a game where you don’t have to have any skills or prior abilities in order to play successfully and enjoy. It’s also a fun social experience for friends to enjoy together.
Get The Wii Sports Bundle (Console + Game)
#2. Super Mario 3D World
Another game seniors may enjoy is Super Mario 3D World for the Wii U console. The Super Mario games have been around for years, and with good reason.
But did you know that Super Mario 3D can actually help stimulate the hippocampus, which is the part of your brain that retains memories?
This can help stave off serious illnesses like Alzheimer’s, and these type of platforming games, especially the three-dimensional ones, are challenging and fun without being overly difficult.
Super Mario 3D can also help seniors improve their coordination, balance, and reaction time. These things tend to deteriorate as we get older, so even playing for a half hour a day can help reduce the signs of dementia and other memory loss illnesses.
When scientists tested seniors, they used an older game; Mario 64 for the Nintendo N64 console. But any Super Mario game that’s newer would also do the trick.
This 3D game allows seniors to use their imaginations and enjoy vivid, immersive gameplay. This highly-rated, award-winning, and challenging game forces seniors to use critical and clever thinking to get through levels.
It’s also a multiplayer game, so this gives seniors something fun to do with friends who also enjoy the vivid world of three-dimensional gaming.
You don’t have to be good at this game to get the benefits. You don’t have to be an experienced gamer to play; there’s a reason that Mario games are popular with players of all ages.
For seniors who like to game on the go, a version of this game called Super Mario 3D Land is also available on the Nintendo 3DS, which is the company’s 3D handheld console (although they also now have the very popular Nintendo Switch)
This would make a perfect gift for seniors who may be confined to bed or a wheelchair, as they’re small and very portable and you can purchase a bag that can carry the console and games as well.
Get Super Mario 3D World (Requires Wii U Console)
Get Super Mario 3D Land (Requires Nintendo 3DS)
#3 World of Warcraft
World of Warcraft is a game that’s popular with seniors who enjoy more in-depth games. It’s an RPG, or role-playing game, that not only follows an interesting storyline but can sharpen aging players’ cognitive abilities.
Seniors that were tested and played this game showed a marked improvement in things like memory and coordination.
So what is World of Warcraft? This game can be challenging, and forces seniors to think and act critically in a variety of situations. It’s also a social game since you play with others online.
It’s one of the most popular RPG games on the market. You can also customize the difficulty level so you’re comfortable with it, but it’s not known to be super easy; however, that’s where the benefits lie.
Seniors who enjoy being challenged in a more intense gaming environment will love the storyline, characters, and the interaction with other players.
It’s a great game for seniors who may be bored and lonely with nobody to game with on a console. There are even gaming guilds made up of solely seniors!
Essentially, you become a character. You complete quests of varying levels of difficulty. This game has a science fiction/fantasy component, so it’s likely you’ll be using your arsenal of weapons to fight monsters and supernatural beings.
The graphics are vivid and bold, and, if it turns out you’re a pretty decent player, you could reap favorable rewards from an hour of gameplay daily, such as improved thinking skills, ability to focus and increased attention span, and spatial skills and concentration.
The only potential downside to World of Warcraft is that if you aren’t good at the game or don’t enjoy it, you’re not likely to reap many, if any, benefits. So you may want to give it a try before investing in it.
World of Warcraft, manufactured by Blizzard Entertainment, is available for Windows PC and Mac operating systems.
*Note. There are many versions of the game. The best choice for most will be to start with World of Warcraft Classic, which gets you access to the main game. This is a subscription model which currently costs $15/month.
#4. Animal Crossing: New Leaf
Seniors are loving Animal Crossing. This type of game is called a simulation game.
What’s a simulation game? It’s a simulation of a situation, and in this case, the game’s storyline is about a town full of animals, and you, as the player, are a villager.
As you play, you act as the mayor of the town, and you do daily activities that earn you currency, called ‘bells,’ you can use to buy things.
It’s a real-time game, so what’s happening is happening as it would in reality. It’s easy to get addicted to doing everyday activities alongside the cutest animals.
There aren’t really any difficult things about this game, so it’s just a fun way to game for seniors who enjoy the activities.
There are also a lot of customization options which let seniors flex their creativity. You can select how your character looks, your home, and many other aspects of gameplay, and purchase new items like furniture with the currency you get.
You can take your game online and play with friends who also have the game. You can also use a variety of features to get more out of your experience, such as taking and saving photos, putting on a swimsuit and swimming, and visiting friends.
Sort of like an animal version of The Sims, Animal Crossing: New Leaf is the fourth installment in this very popular series.
This particular title is available on the Nintendo 3DS handheld console, but a newer version will be available at some point for the Nintendo Switch platform.
The benefits of a game like Animal Crossing for seniors include social interaction, creativity, and critical thinking skills; you do have to complete simple challenges that could help sharpen coordination, such as fishing and catching butterflies.
The portability of the handheld 3DS console is also appealing for seniors.
Get Animal Crossing: New Leaf (Requires Nintendo 3DS Console)
Get Animal Crossing: New Horizons (Requires Nintendo Switch Console)
There are a few aspects of the popular building game Minecraft that appeal to seniors. One is the fact that Minecraft is whatever you make it.
It’s called a ‘sandbox’ game, which means it’s an open world you can design whatever you want in. It is truly a chance to be as creative as you like, and that can be a lot of fun.
Some enjoy it because it’s soothing, rhythmic, and relaxing. The music and sounds of the game are pleasing. The square world is appealing, simple yet complex at the same time.
There are two components to Minecraft; one is the open world mode, where you can build what you like. The other is the story mode, where you can play through a story and come up against villains and fight them.
There is a strategy involved, which is where critical thinking skills come in. If you want to keep yourself alive, you must eat and sleep. You have to find ways to procure weapons.
It’s not typically a difficult game, but you may need a bit to pick up on it and get the hang of it. Most kids are great at it, so recruit your grandson or a neighbor to give you the basics!
Once you learn, you too may be addicted to this block-building wonderland. Again, since this is a three-dimensional game, seniors can see the health benefits similar to the Mario game above.
These benefits of gaming for even an hour a day include improved memory skills as well as increased hand-eye coordination and reaction time.
Knowing how to play Minecraft can also bridge the gap between seniors and young people; giving older people something in common with the kids in their lives.
Minecraft is available for the PlayStation, Xbox, Wii U, Switch, and PC.
Why Should Seniors Play Video Games?
There are numerous gains that seniors can get from playing video games. Not only are there health benefits, but video games can be boredom busters, too.
For seniors who are lonely, playing with an online community can foster real-life friendships and combat loneliness and depression.
More importantly, some video games can have potentially life-altering benefits, such as keeping illnesses like dementia and Alzheimer’s at bay.
It’s long been said that crossword puzzles, word games, and memory games are good for seniors to keep their minds sharp.
So why shouldn’t video games have the same, and more benefits?
Then, there are games like Wii Sports that encourage seniors to get up and be active. Playing a video game doesn’t have to mean sitting still. Even games like Rock Band can get seniors up and moving and having a blast!
Video games encourage interaction, and many multiplayer games allow. two or more seniors to play together. This isn’t your average game of cards or bingo.
Video games are immersive, challenging, fun, and unique for seniors, and can throw situations at them they’ve never seen or been in.
Some seniors even enjoy combat games like Assassin’s Creed, or story-focused games like The Last of Us that are rendered so beautifully they look like a movie.
Just because seniors are aging doesn’t mean they don’t want to stay on-trend and keep up with all of the amazing tech we have at our fingertips.
Seniors can also game online with family and friends, giving them an interactive experience with the people they love, even if loved ones aren’t nearby.
Some seniors are even streaming their gaming experiences on channels like YouTube and Twitch, beating boredom and depression by gaining legions of worldwide followers and fans.
Gaming has a multitude of benefits for over-50s, and if you’re not a gamer yet, maybe you should be!
Most baby boomers grew up gaming, and likely never stopped, but if you didn’t, it’s never too late to learn something new.
Options to Consider When Buying Video Games for Seniors
For some seniors, small controls can be hard to operate. So maybe a handheld console isn’t right, but a regular console with larger buttons would be easier.
Or, maybe the opposite is true and a handheld would be perfect for a bed bound senior.
Alternately, a senior who already knows how to use a computer and enjoys can easily learn how to game on a computer, so you may want to consider what platform would be the easiest to use.
Where do your interests lie? Do you like side-scrolling games? Would you like an immersive RPG with a storyline?
Or does a simulation game sound more fun? Do you like fantasy, action, building?
A sandbox game or a game with rules? A harder game or something simple? Think about what type of game would be interesting for you.
There are no shortage of options. There are even brain buster games, connect three games, and wordplay games which are fun for seniors, too.
Video games don’t have to be action games.
Do you have people to play with or are you mostly alone? Since some games are more fun with others, if you are alone most of the time you may want a game you can play with an online community or a game you can go solo on.
Let’s face it, if you’ve been gaming since the Commodore was a thing, you’re probably pretty good at games. This means you could likely tackle a more difficult game.
However, if you’ve never picked up a controller before, you may want to start with something a bit more entry-level.
Some games and newer game systems may be out of your budget. But before you decide you can’t afford a game or console, check your local used game store.
Many people sell consoles and you can get one in great condition for a reasonable price, and get preowned games as well.
Newer games, especially when they first come out, can be on the speedy side. And, some games require you to buy additional controllers or add-ons, so keep that in mind when you shop.
Which Video Game Should You Buy?
Want to get immersed in a world of monsters, challenging duels, and interesting storylines? Try World of Warcraft.
Have a hard time keeping to guidelines and rules and want to game your own way? You will love building in Minecraft.
Looking for a simple game that’s cute, fun, and requires few skills? Animal Crossing is a good fit for you.
You’re not as active as you used to be, and you could stand a bit of light exercise. Wii U Sports is a really fun way to move around.
Worried about your memory slipping? Invest in a three-dimensional game like Mario.
Love the idea of your own handheld console? There are many games for the popular 3DS, including Mario and Animal Crossing.
Intimidated by complicated directions and instructions? Mario is fun and not too hard.
Frequently Asked Questions About Video Games
How do I know if I will like a game?
Since games are costly, it’s typically best to try them before you buy them. Check with your grandkids, friends, or even local game shop to see if you can take a game for a test drive before you commit.
I have a smartphone. Can I game on that?
Yes! If you don’t have the funds to invest in a console, there are many games you can download on your smartphone to keep your skills sharp!
Some popular ones include Words With Friends, Scrabble, Candy Crush, Bejeweled, and Sudoku.
I’m scared I won’t be able to learn how to play. What should I do?
Most libraries have teen programs that include video games. There are likely some teens that would love to help you learn how to play!
You could also spend some great bonding time with your grandkids asking them to teach you how to game!
How long do I have to play each day to get benefits?
You could play as little as half an hour each day, but an hour is a perfect amount of time to get the benefits of gaming.
Do I have to use my personal information to game online?
It’s not safe to use your private information online. To stay safe online, have a friend or family member help you set up your account.
Choose a username that doesn’t identify you, and don’t use photos of yourself or include your real name or location.
If other users chat with you, do so at your own discretion, and never reveal private details to anyone online. Stay safe when you game!
Also, don’t ever put financial information online. If you need to purchase in-game apps or anything like that, set up a PayPal account, or purchase gift cards like PlayStation store cards that you don’t need to use your credit card information to use.