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Gaming for centenarians will help our aging population stay healthy

Grandfather and grandson playing computer games

Gamer Dr Hannah R. Marston presented her research at the billion-dollar tech company Ubisoft’s Massive Entertainment last week.

The health and wellbeing priority research area fellow was invited by the game designer, in Sweden, to talk about her work ‘From Arcade to World Wide Web – how intergenerational gaming can help you pick up an extra life’.

It focuses on levels of immersion, or flow, with gamers and non-gamers, their motivations and implications of immersive gaming for all ages, now and in the future, including centenarians.

Hannah, a member of the National Executive Board of the British Society of Gerontology, said: “UK and developed populations will be living longer and with this, comes issues for families, communities, and society.

“Digital gaming and technology have great potential to impact and benefit people of all ages. However, technology is not a pill and is no substitute for active and healthy ageing, mental stimulation, and human interaction.”

Her work also looks at different technical skills and knowledge across domains, including gaming for fun and health.Hannah continued: “The use of digital games to assist individuals with their recovery, say from stroke, or increase physical activity to reduce the risk of falling is important for our ageing populations.

"The Games for Health movement shows benefits across many populations and cohort, but there is still a great deal of work to be done.

“For colleagues straddling the fields of gerontology and game studies understanding preferences and motivations, whilst working with indie developers or companies such as Massive Entertainment, are key to moving the debates forward.”

Hannah was just one of four people worldwide with a PhD on videogames and older adults in 2010. Since then her research has expanded into digital health, and age friendly cities too. She has collaborated internationally across academia and industry, including Sheri Graner Ray, an eminent American computer game designer and author of ‘Gender: Inclusive Game Design-Expanding the Market’.

To learn more about Hannah’s work, visit her website.

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