There has long been a stigma associated to video-gaming, it is perceived to be something that you grow out of with age and is exclusively for young boys.
Recent figures have shown that not to be the case with female gamers in the UK not far behind male gamers, with all age rangers represented. One of the most surprising demographics represented is the group being called ‘The Silver Gamers’.
These are gamers stretching from middle-age all the way up to post-retirement. Hilda Knott was the talk of the UK in 2013 when she was interviewed by the BBC about her fondness for video games. Then 86, Knott was a regular player of Grand Theft Auto and said that the game was not only enjoyable, but beneficial to her mental sharpness as well.
Some readers might find this surprising, but it must be remembered that video games first reared their heads over 40 years ago, meaning that an older generation will already be well-versed in video games. In this article we take a look at what Xbox can do to cater for the silver gamers.
Follow the Facebook lead
In a recent study 40% of over 55 women in the UK said that they regularly played video games or puzzle games. The largest provider used by this demographic for online puzzle games is Facebook, who offer a plethora of free puzzle games for the over 55’s.
Consoles such as the Nintendo DS have branched out into this market with their game Brain Training and Xbox could look to follow that example and improve upon it to attract older gamers.
FIFA and Call Of Duty are two of the biggest video games, not just in the UK but across the globe. However, players of these titles have to rely heavily on reflexes and eyesight, something which could hamper the involvement of elderly gamers.
Instead Xbox could develop more games similar to the PlayStation series Unchartered, which features action elements but also an acclaimed story. Unchartered also encompasses elements of puzzle solving and prompts players to outcome influencing decisions.
Steve Ince is an older games developer who is doing his bit to appeal to the older generation of video gamers;
“I’m developing a game in which a man in his mid-50s comes to terms with the loss of his wife and the secret she leaves behind.
“While it won’t be aimed specifically at over-50s, I suspect people in that age group will find things with which they identify.”
Take inspiration from other sectors
It’s not just Facebook that is catering to the entertainment needs of the older generations, online betting companies are also leading the way. Through catering for an older audience, they are able to expand their target market and even interest them in alternative games. For example, online bingo sites are able to attract their players to their online slot games, and surprisingly enough, many of the silver gamers enjoy the change from their typical games.
The gameplay on the majority of online slots is an upgrade on the Facebook style games that have proved so popular with silver gamers. Simplistic gameplay, accessibility and appealing graphics have all combined to make online slots a hit with the older market.
Adapt marketing strategies
There’s no doubt that the majority of marketing for video games is aimed at younger male gamers. Even though female gamers represent nearly half of the players, that demographic also suffers with little marketing aimed at them. Then, when it aimed at young females it is often terribly saccharin and stereotypical.
If Xbox want to capture more of the silver gaming market then they need to address the marketing aimed at this demographic. More money needs to be spent on creating clever, well-informed advertising campaigns.
What not to do
Rush: The will may be there from Xbox to reach out and appeal to silver gamers, but one thing they can ill afford to do is rush through games, technologies and marketing. No games will be better than a plethora of badly made rushed ones.
The same goes for marketing campaigns, if rushed efforts are made to appeal to silver gamers then the risk of alienating a demographic rather than appealing to it is real.
Fall into stereotypes: Just because some older people like to watch Emmerdale or Cash In The Attic, it doesn’t mean they’ll rush out in their hordes to buy video game spin-offs. Xbox must seriously do their research and disregard any stereotypes they have before moving to cater for silver gamers.
As Hilda Knott demonstrated with her passion for Grand Theft Auto, silver gamers may not be as predictable in their likes and interests. Reaching out to this demographic and finding out their preferences will be key in appealing to them in the long-run.
Alienate other gamers: Metropolis: Lux Obscura was a puzzle-game that featured several raunchy cartoon scenes, and in order to protect players Microsoft decided to ban users that attempted to take screenshots of the not safe for work scenes.
In doing this Microsoft succeeding not in protecting an audience type, but in alienating a large number of its players and receiving widespread ridicule on social media. Yet perhaps the biggest lesson to learn from this escapade was the polarising nature of Metropolis: Lux Obscura.
It was clearly aimed at an older audience, but its content created an exclusivity that only served to alienate gamers. Attempts to make video games for the older generation must be accessible for all age groups as well.
The silver gamers represent a massive development market for Xbox. Preparing to meet their needs now could prove exceptionally wise for Xbox with the numbers of older gamers only set to rise as the population of gamer’s age.
Inspiration can be drawn from the success of Facebook and online betting companies. But lessons can be drawn from numerous poorly executed past attempts to reach out to the silver gamers.