Are you looking for a new way to connect with your friends, kids and grandkids? One of the best options you may not have considered is playing video games together. There was a time when these games were intentionally created only for young adults. But times have changed, and now there are thousands of social video games that are easy to play and specifically designed for people of all ages to interact with each other. In fact, a recent study on senior gaming showed that 44% of Americans age 50+ now enjoy video games at least once a month. That’s nearly 51 million gamers and counting who are benefiting from the digital age and forming new relationships online to stave off social isolation.
Growing Bolder’s Marc Middleton and Bill Shafer upped their gaming skills, playing with a 31-year-old livestreamer and tabletop game designer named Mike Lavoie, known as “MeatSim9” on Twitch. This trio discussed why social video games are a great way to form intergenerational relationships.
“It gives you something to converse about,” Lavoie said. “It gives you a context for having a conversation that probably goes off the rails, and you talk about lots of other things, too. But it helps give you that commonality very quickly of, ‘We’re going through this gaming experience together,’ so we’ve established this baseline, and now we can go off on all sorts of tangents while we play.”
For a livestreamer such as Lavoie, who has made countless friendships through gaming, it is worth the time to find the right game to suit one’s passions, no matter your age.
“There’s just something for everyone,” Lavoie explained. “I think that’s one of the big things that people think about games: ‘Oh, video games aren’t for me; board games aren’t for me.’ There’s just so many options of games that it’s just a matter of finding out which one is for you. Games have given me so much my whole life — like different friendships, people I would’ve never met if they weren’t also interested in games.”
A study conducted by North Carolina State University, “Successful Aging Through Digital Games: Socioemotional Differences Between Older Adult Gamers and Non-Gamers,” showed seniors who play video games regularly or occasionally report better overall emotional well-being. Dr. Vonda Wright, MD, MS, a renowned expert on healthy aging, told Growing Bolder that gaming can help increase the number of healthy years we have later in life. “Gaming is a complex activity that can stave off the fogginess that can happen with aging,” Wright said. “And when done with others, it decreases social isolation, which is a problem for people as we get older.”
When it comes to games that are easy to learn with a low barrier to entry, Lavoie recommends buying a Nintendo Switch or a Nintendo Wii. Invite your children and grandchildren over for a night of gaming, starting with one of these five games:
TOP 5 SOCIAL VIDEO GAMES FOR ALL AGES
According to live streamer Mike Lavoie
“Overcooked!2” (Nintendo Switch or PC)
“This is one of the best, if not the best, cooperative game ever made. It’s about being a short-order cook, and you’re just all working together to try to fill the customer orders. You have to communicate to decide who’s washing the dishes, who’s chopping the lettuce, who’s putting the bun on the burger. It gets very crazy, but it’s so much fun.”
“Mario Kart” (Nintendo Switch)
“This is the most famous series of games on my list. The controls are pretty basic. You’re just holding one button and hoping for the best and steering as you race each other. I’ve played with parents, with friends’ parents. I’ve played it with my nephew. It’s just an incredible game that anyone can relate to.”
“Stardew Valley” (Nintendo Switch or PC) “I live in New York City, and I dream about the opportunity to move out of the big city onto a lovely little farm in a quaint little town, go fishing, plant crops, and just live the simple life. The game has a lot of depth to it. The fact that you can play it with your friends or family, up to four players online or on the same couch farming together, it’s just a very relaxing experience.
“Mario Party” (Nintendo Switch or Nintendo Wii)
“It’s really a great combination of board game and video game. It has a lot of just small, silly games that you can play. You’re moving around a board and trying to collect as many stars as you can. They teach you all the controls as you’re playing the small games within the board game.”
“Wii Sports” (Nintendo Wii)
“Wii was really a pioneer in the intergenerational space because it was one of the first consoles that families were gravitating towards, that parents and kids alike were all playing together. Wii Sports is still as good today as it was back in 2006, to get together to play golf, tennis, bowling and more.”
Fans of this classic game are in luck, as Nintendo announced a long-awaited sequel to Wii Sports is in the works for their current console, called “Nintendo Switch Sports” to be released on April 29, 2022!
To watch the Growing Bolder team demonstrate how easy and fun it is to play these social video games, click the links below: