One of the biggest keys to connect family members of all ages is to create common ground. By sharing in a group activity, grandkids, parents, and grandparents can create memories that last a lifetime. Whether it’s completing a puzzle, going for a hike, playing a board game, or watching a sporting event together, these family festivities establish a baseline where a young grandchild can interact with an older grandparent in a meaningful way, and create little moments of joy.
But what happens when family members are spread out, living in multiple locations? Instead of waiting for the handful of weekends where families can travel to get together, a company called GrandPad has created a one- of-a-kind tablet that keeps older adults connected with the rest of the family daily, no matter where they live. In addition to video calls, messaging, and photo sharing, GrandPad has now crafted an incredibly easy gaming platform to allow grandparents to play their favorite board games online with their grandchildren, starting with a cherished classic: checkers.
“It really comes back to the founding idea of GrandPad, which was, ‘How can we stay in touch with my grandparents who lived across the country?’ We’re not going to do video calls all day long, but we’d want to be able to make a move in a game like checkers,” Isaac Lien, GrandPad Co-Founder told Growing Bolder.
“You have that lightweight connection and it’s just a fun way to play games like I’m already doing with my friends, but my grandma was left out of that loop. That’s why we decided to make remote multiplayer games on GrandPad.”
Rather than copying the interface of gaming products designed for younger adults, GrandPad leaned on the advice of older adults, called their “Grand Advisors”, to create a product specifically for older adults to use.
“In those one-on-ones, they’re working through the flow before we build it. We’re getting that feedback very early, so we can make those changes that are beneficial for older adults,” Justin Prate, GrandPad’s Senior Product Manager of Games & Entertainment, explained while playing checkers against Growing Bolder Founder & CEO Marc Middleton.
Where other modern gaming systems on smartphones and computers can be overwhelming and difficult for older adults, gaming on GrandPad only uses a touch screen. The user only needs to tap the face of the family member they want to play with to begin a game, and then simply tap their checkers right on screen to move them.
GrandPad Multiplayer Games Key Features
→ Safe and secure network for users to connect with their friends and families
→ Game user interface layouts are designed specifically for older adults
→ Enhanced color and contrast, vital for those with visual impairments
→ Helpful messaging to make sure users know what is going on within each game turn
→ Fun art and special effects that were designed and developed in collaboration with GrandPad GrandAdvisors
→ No distracting advertisements when playing games
→ Gameplay was developed and tested in collaboration with GrandPad GrandAdvisors
“As long as we’re playing games and having fun, they help start conversations. Sometimes I’ve heard my son talking to his grandma and that conversation is hard to get going, because he is a little shy and doesn’t want to start talking,” Prate revealed. “Once you get playing games, people open up. That’s the main focus, just connection. Using games as a tool to connect our users.”
“Research continues to show that being lonely or isolated is really detrimental to your health. It speeds up the onset of all sorts of other issues,” Lien added. “Anything we can do to help everyone have more social engagement, whether it’s the older adult who’s using the GrandPad or even the young grandchild, and not only are we connected, we’re having fun.”
GrandPad leverages gaming to provide multiple benefits, including social connections with younger family members, improved manual dexterity, memory, problem-solving skills, and stress relief. Research supports these advantages.
For the GrandPad team, checkers is only the beginning of a masterplan to capture the health benefits of gaming.
“We have other games that are on the roadmap that we’re going to be coming out with,” Prate said. “Chess will be the next one. And just like Marc and I are talking right now while we’re playing, users will be able to play checkers while in a video call.”
To learn more about GrandPad’s unique features and why countless older adults are choosing this easy-to-use device to stay connected, attend a product demo webinar by registering at GrandPad.net.
This article is featured in the December 2022 issue of The Growing Bolder Digital Digest.