Remember when you told your kids to stop playing video games because they weren’t good for them? Fast forward a couple of decades and it’s a world turned upside down. Young adults are now encouraging their parents and grandparents to start gaming because it is good for them. And they’re right. Research has shown that the kind of novel cognitive stimulation required in gaming may delay or slow the onset of degenerative neurological diseases, such as Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia.
Dr. Vonda Wright, M.D., a renowned expert on healthy aging, told Growing Bolder that the mental stimulation and social benefits of gaming and esports are significant for older adults.
“Gaming is a complex activity that can stave off the fogginess that can happen with aging,” she said, “and when done with others, it decreases social isolation, which is a problem for people as we get older.”
As the pandemic surged in 2020, and older adults were advised to stay home, one in three started actively gaming. According to research from the International Data Corporation and the Entertainment Software Association, more than 51 million Americans aged 55 and older are active video gamers — a number that represents 26% of all gamers. And expanding cloud technologies that make an endless number of games easily accessible online has resulted in 55-plus adults now representing the largest mobile gaming segment of all.
The pandemic in general, and new older gamers in particular, were responsible for an explosion in the growth for the global gaming industry with sales rising 20% to nearly $180 billion in 2020. The video game industry now makes more money than the entire global movie and North American sports industries combined.
Although a large and rapidly growing number of older adults now play digital games, few play games with others and don’t experience the important social benefits. And that is why Growing Bolder stepped up and entered the social gaming and esports arena with its Bolder X initiative.
The BolderX Among Us I-Gen tournament was the world’s first live streaming intergenerational social gaming competition. Two-person teams, one member under 50 and one over 50, competed for valuable prizes and bragging rights.
“We did it to smash a few outdated stereotypes and expose older adults to the many health and social benefits of online gaming, e-sports and streaming,” said Tim Killian, producer of the event. “And we didn’t just do it, we did it big. The production value was unparalleled for a live, social gaming tournament. The competitors had a great time, the sponsors couldn’t have been happier, and we took a giant first step into an area we’re committed to having a major presence in.”
The BolderX I-Gen tournament was produced live at Full Sail University in Winter Park, Florida, hosted by Growing Bolder Founder and CEO Marc Middleton and popular Twitch Streamer and Grammy-nominated rock star Matthew Heafy. The tournament was streamed worldwide on Twitch.