Aging Well in the Gorge March 9th 2020

 Today there are practically unlimited forms of entertainment. (Remember when you adjusted the rabbit ears on top of the TV set to watch your favorite show on one of the three network stations. Ah, the simpler days.) You can enjoy a night of bingo, listen to music in a local pub, or go out to dinner with friends, pull weeds in your garden? 

And now with the Internet, you can play one of the hundreds of online games which are an increasingly popular form of entertainment among older adults. Nearly half of all older Americans play games online and the majority are women. The creators of Bejeweled, an incredibly popular mobile game that you may be familiar with, found that 47% of their estimated 150 million players worldwide were over the age of 50.

There are many types of online games you can play on your computer, tablet, and smartphone: puzzle, strategy, adventure, board, card, and sports games. Both Apple and Google have a game store where you can purchase hundreds of them.

You can also elevate your game by purchasing one of the popular video game consoles such as PlayStation, Xbox, or Nintendo Switch which range in price from $300 to $1000. Or better yet, ask your kids to buy you one so you can play with them online. They may be impressed you’re interested in gaming - and a little confused!

But why would I want to play video games? I always thought they were a non-productive use of my time – although I can spend ninety minutes in front of my big screen TV watching streamed British mysteries every night!

Because video games can actually be good for you. Really! And there are several reasons.

Depending on the game, research has shown video games can improve reaction time, attention, and short-term memory in older adults.

By playing video games you can exercise your creative and problem-solving skills in an elaborate alternative world while competing against rival players or working collaboratively with teammates by building, exploring, and sharing.

Multi-player games can provide a way to stay connected with family and friends and across generations - although you might not want to disclose your age. Young gamers don’t like to be beaten by grandma!

Video games can be an escape. Family caregivers have found gaming to be a way to address stress, avoid isolation and stay connected.

And they give you the freedom to participate in activities you could not normally do. Even if you’re confined to a wheelchair, you can still compete on the PGA Tour or fly a commercial jet.  

I’m not a “gamer”. I don’t own a PlayStation or Xbox console and never had an interest in playing video games. And as with any new activity, I know they can be complicated and challenging. But I’ve also learned online games can be a beneficial use of your time - as well as fun.

One caution. Online games are designed to keep you playing, and I may add spending. If your screen time is keeping you away from healthier activities such as exercise or socialization, then you may be doing more harm than good.

If you play video games, email me how often you play and what is your favorite online game.

In 1956 the country where the USSR sent troops to suppress the popular uprising was Hungary. I received answers from Doug Nelson, Barbara Cadwell, Gene Uczen, Dave Lutgens, Sam Bilyeu, Lana Tepfer, Tiiu Vahtel, and Steven Nybroten this week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket.

In 1972 the video arcade game industry began with the introduction of the first successful commercial arcade video game. For this week’s “Remember When“ question, what was the name of the two-dimensional sports game that simulates table tennis by moving paddles to hit the ball back and forth. Email your answer to mcseniorcenter@gmail.com, call 541-296-4788, or send it with an original Atari Video Computer System with a game cartridge.

Well, it’s been another week, trying not to rush when I no longer need to. Until we meet again, a Danish proverb says “The gem cannot be polished without friction, nor man be perfected without trials” but I must admit - there are days I would gladly trade a little less perfection for a few less trials.

“In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: It goes on.” Robert Frost

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