Are Video Games Good For Adults?

Video games can be good for adults, but they can also be detrimental. There are many benefits that can be associated with adults playing video games, including neuroplasticity, improved memory, speed of processing, and more.

In fact, video game training is a widely accepted method of improving things like peripheral vision, short-term memory, and task switching, especially in older adults.

However, there are some concerns that issues like ADHD and addiction can occur in adults (and children) in cases where videogames have become a problematic past time.

All in all, it is my opinion that video games can be good for adults as long as they are played in moderation and within the bounds of healthy relationships with friends and family.

Video gaming is a pastime for many friends and families today
Video games can provide benefits in relationships with friends and family, when used correctly

What is a healthy amount of time to play video games for adults?

There is not an exact amount of time that can be considered healthy for adults to play video games. However, in a recent study in Norway, it was found that approximately 0.6% to 4.0% of adults can be classified as having video game addiction. However, since there is much disagreement between the definition of an addiction, this number can’t be used without some debate.

I think that video game addiction can be best described as the moment you give up some major real life aspect (like your job, family, friends or significant other, sleep, or something else that’s critical) in order to play video games. Once that threshold is crossed, it is safe to say that playing video games has become unhealthy for any adult.

Are you ever too old to play video games?

You are never too old to play video games! However, there are certain genres or types of games that some people may find are too hard to play at a certain age or based on existing health conditions. Personally, I find that extended mouse use on a personal computer (PC) can leave my shoulder sore due to injuries that happened when I was younger.

Sometimes the genre, say a shooter type of video game, can be too quick for some older adults. In this case, things like cognitive decline (which can be based on things like genetics, inflammation, diet, lifestyle, and more) can come into play. Although there’s no specific age or date when an adult might be too old to play a specific video game or specific genre of video game, there is certainly a decline over time that can be associated with age.

I know that I personally have seen some of my earlier or younger skills begin to decline in my mid to late 30s. However, I have been able to regain some of those skills through a little extra time playing a game. This has allowed me to enjoy video games with my younger child, who is far better than I am at most games.

Social gaming allows us to stay connected, even in the middle of a pandemic
A headset connects you to other people so you can speak and play together

At what age should you stop playing video games?

There really is no age you should stop playing video games at. There are all kinds of benefits, and I might even go so far as to say that as you get older, playing video games becomes more beneficial to you.

That’s because you can develop skills that transfer to classrooms, surgical procedures, and even scientific thinking. In fact, if you remember the game America’s Army, it was used as a training tool for US Marines to learn skills of decision-making, military skills, and more within a 4 member team.

As I mentioned earlier in this article, there are many benefits related to training your brain when playing video games. You can experience neuroplasticity improvements, improved memory, speed, and more when playing games. There is also significant reason to play video games for social reasons, as today you can connect with friends, family, and even meet people from all over the world within the world of video games. So not only is gaming beneficial for you mentally and potentially physically, but it can be beneficial from a social networking point of view.

For me personally, I find the benefits of social interaction to be really important in this post (or maybe current) COVID world, as playing games with friends and my own child has brought us outlets for social interaction that we might not have otherwise had.

Does gaming get harder with age?

In some ways, gaming does get harder as you age. This study from 2014 clearly shows cognitive decline starts at an early age (24) and continues to cause us more in-game problems as we age. Despite this, there are many ways that you will actually improve as you age in video games.

Putting aside the fact that young children will be faster, more accurate, and just plain old better at most shooter games than you will be, understand that your experience in life is a balancing factor. In fact, in the study referenced above, it was shown that experience allowed older gamers to compensate for declines in ability indirectly.

So your ability to see situations differently and more accurately for what they are gives you a leg up in a way. Your ability to draw from a wider array of experiences will let you see more options for survival, winning, or whatever your game’s goal is.

Need an example? I have one of my own to share.

I was playing Fortnite with my son and a few of his friends. It’s well known to them (and to me) that I could never beat them in a 1 on 1 duel. They exploit that fact and they kill me (in game of course) anytime they want to. However, we had been trying to defeat Darth Vader in this season of Fortnite without any success.

That’s because we would jump right into battle with Darth and so would a number of other players who were trying to do the same thing. After 3 tries and all of us being wiped out in fights with other players and with the Lord himself, I decided to speak up just as the younger ones became frustrated.

We decided a great strategy would be to land a little distance away, gather weapons, and then shoot the players from long distance. Then we could take out Darth Vader and his cronies and claim his lightsaber, our experience points, and our victory.

That’s what we did, and it shows that a little bit of strategy can go a long ways when you’re the “old guy” playing games.

Gaming can be beneficial to relationships, when used correctly
Looks like someone has to let up

Is Video Gaming Considered an Addiction?

Video gaming can be considered an addiction, when used improperly or when games are designed for a certain response. A study done in 2017 pointed out that there could be a relationship between dopamine levels and success or failure in video games. It was shown that certain games could elicit a crave-type of response from certain individuals and with certain games or game types.

However, the same study showed that video games were often more beneficial through visuospatial skill development, cognitive development, training and task performance, and overall skill acquisition than the concerns related to video game addiction.

For myself, I have found that certain types of video games bring forward that addictive personality trait that we all have engrained in us, and I often avoid those types of games. Another concern I have personally is that the style and purpose of video games has changed drastically over many years.

By the ripe old age of 10, I was playing games that had strategic aspects, like Sid Meier’s Civilization or Command and Conquer. Civ, as it’s often referred to as, has an incredible basis in human history. I played scenarios over and over again (like World War II, especially) which taught me a great deal about a slice of history and how it could have gone. Games like Command and Conquer taught strategic thinking, as losing after an hour of playing taught me a hard lesson each and every time.

Games like that continue to be developed but today, games are more popular when they are something simple, easy, and quick to pick up. Flappy Bird is/was a great example of an extremely simple and popular game that could have caused addiction for a very different reason than earlier video games. There’s nothing wrong with a game like Flappy Bird, I just personally think it’s important to balance our time and that addictive element when it comes to simple-minded games like this.

Games like Terraria require a ton of strategy and skill!
Terraria has simple controls, yet brings a deep strategic element

What percentage of the population are gamers?

Numbers vary based on study, but according to Statista, approximately 3.09 billion people play video games in the world, which would (given an estimated 8 billion people in the world today), approximately 38.6% of people in the world today play video games.

Within the same data, it’s estimated that by 2024 3.32 billion people will play video games by 2024. That’s a growth of approximately 115 million people every year picking up and playing video games! Given current population growth rates at approximately 65 million people (source: Macrotrends) per year, this means we’re gaining approximately 0.4% of the world population playing video games every year.

Here’s my graph that shows an estimated 50% of people will play games by 2034, assuming current trends continue:

50% of people could play games by 2034
Graph 1: Even today, 38.6% is a staggering percentage of people playing video games

Why do grown men play video games?

Grown men play video games for a variety of reasons and so do adult women, younger men, younger women, and children. Although there is a difference between the amount of girls and boys who play video games for more than an hour per day, both men and women play video games and the reasons generally stay the same.

Video games are primarily played for enjoyment, but for many young men or adolescents, video gaming can be a central part of their childhood. This experience carries on into adult life for many men, and it’s also how many young men relate to their friends.

For myself, there were friends that I played video games with, friends that I played sports with, and friends that I went to parties and other social gatherings with. Sometimes those friend groups mixed and sometimes they did not.

Today, I game mostly as a connection point with my young son who loves to play video games like Minecraft, Fortnite, and a few other games. I also use it as a time and place for me to disconnect from the world and forget all the stresses of the day.

What percent of adults play video games?

Approximately 23% of adults 65 years of age and older play video games, with higher percentages being expected at younger ages. Given the above data that suggests approximately 38.6% (see graph 1 above) of the world plays video games in 2022, this would likely be the lowest percentage of the population engaging in digital video games.

Personally, I believe that as we get deeper into the age of video games and technologies like AI, machine learning, Virtual Reality (VR), and better control interfaces are developed we will see a higher and higher percentage of adults playing some form of gaming.

This, when combined with the proliferation of the smart phone, tablets, and other easy ways to play video games tells us that most of the world will have access to video games and we should expect most adults will pick up and try games.

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