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Grey gamers: a research agenda for the future

Facer, Keri and Whitton, Nicola (2010) Grey gamers: a research agenda for the future. [Conference or Workshop Item] (Unpublished)

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Abstract

As the population ages across the world, societies are increasingly being challenged to find ways to enable older adults to play active economic and social roles later in life and to keep learning for employment or social cohesion purposes. At the same time, the demographic of games players is changing from a profile that was traditionally dominated by young men, to one that is more diverse with growing numbers of female and older players. These changes suggest that it is now time to extend the focus of research on games and learning beyond its current emphasis on younger people and formal education and training, into the areas of lifelong and informal learning. At the present time, computer games that are explicitly designed for older people tend to be dominated by concerns around cognitive function. Such concerns lead to the design of games that are structured around behaviourist models of learning, with an emphasis on repetition and practice. This approach, however, may well over-simplify the capacities, interests and aspirations of older adults both in respect of their attitudes towards learning and in their attitudes towards gaming. In order to move beyond this stereotypical view of older people, learning and gaming, this paper discusses the results of a small pilot study of five interviews with people aged over fifty. These interviews demonstrate that there is a greater diversity of need and aspiration among this group and that there is evidence of a real potential for game-based learning. The paper concludes by calling for a research agenda that recognises the diversity of older adults, challenges assumptions and stereotypes and supports an interdisciplinary approach to investigating the potential of games for lifelong learning.

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