Cognitive Benefits of Digital Games for Older Adults - Strategies for Increasing Participation

Robyn Schell, David Kaufman


There is evidence that shows that playing digital games has cognitive benefits for older adults. However, to reap these cognitive benefits, barriers that prevent full participation in gameplay must be overcome. This position paper describes the cognitive benefits of digital gaming for older people, outlines some of the obstacles they may face when playing digital games, and offers strategies that could help reduce these barriers so more older adults could enjoy the benefits of playing digital games.


  1. Allender, S., Cowburn, G. and Foster, C., 2006. Understanding participation in sport and physical activity among children and adults: A Review of Qualitative Studies. Health Education Research, 21, pp. 826-835.
  2. Basak, C., Boot, W. R., Voss, M. W. and Kramer, A. F., 2008. Can training in a real-time strategy video game attenuate cognitive decline in older adults? Psychology and Aging, 23(4), pp. 765-777.
  3. Botvinick, M., Braver, T., Barch, D. L., Carter, C. and Calvin, J. D., 2001. Conflict monitoring and cognitive Control. Psychological Review, 108, pp. 624-652.
  4. Bouwhuis, D., 2006. Not care but leisure. Gerontechnology, 5(2), pp. 63-65.
  5. Calvert, S. L., 2004. Cognitive effects of digital games. In: J. Raessens and J. Goldstain, eds, Handbook of Computer Game Studies. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, pp. 125-131.
  6. Chiang, I. T., Tsai, J. C. and Chen, S. T., 2012, March 27 - 30. Using Xbox 360 Kinect games on enhancing visual performance skills on institutionalized older adults with wheelchairs, Proceedings of Fourth IEEE International Conference on Digital Game and Intelligent Toy Enhanced Learning 2012, March 27 - 30.
  7. De Schutter, R. and Vanden Abeele, V., 2010. Designing meaningful play within the psycho-social context of older adults. Fun & Games, (September), pp. 13-15.
  8. Entertainment Software Association (ESA), 2005. Essential Facts About the Computer and Video Game Industry: Sales, Demographics, and Usage.
  9. Entertainment Software Industry, 2011 - last update, Essential Facts of Computer and Video Game Industry. Available: _2011.pdf [February 16, 2013].
  10. Gerling, K. M. and Masuch, M., 2011. When gaming is not suitable for everyone: Playtesting Wii games with frail elderly, In 1st Workshop on Game Accessibility: Xtreme Interaction Design (FDG 2011) 2011.
  11. Green, C. S. and Bavelier, D., 2004. The cognitive neuroscience of digital games. In: P. Messaris and L. Humphreys, eds, Digital Media: Transformation in human communication. New York, NY: Peter Lang, pp. 211-223.
  12. Higgins, H. C., Horton, J. K. and Hodginson, B. C., 2010. Lessons learned: Staff perceptions of the Nintendo Wii as a health promotion tool within an aged-care and disability service. Health Promotion Journal, 21(3), pp. 189-195.
  13. Hwang, M., Hong, J., Hao, Y. and Jong, J., 2011. Elders' usability, dependability, and flow experiences on embodied interactive video games. Educational Gerontology, 37(8), pp. 715-731.
  14. IJsselsteijn, W. A., Nap, H., De Kort, Y. and Poels, K., 2007. Digital game design for elderly users, Proceedings of 2007 Conference on Future Play Can be found in google at 2007, pp. 17-22.
  15. Kueider, A. M., Parisi, J. M., Gross, A. L. and Rebok, G. W., 2012. Computerized cognitive training with older adults: A systematic review. PLoS ONE, 7(7), pp. 1-13.
  16. Marston, H., 2012. Older adults as 21st game designers. The Computer Games Journal, 1(1), pp. 80-102.
  17. Marston, H.R., 2013. Design recommendations for digital game design within an ageing society. Educational Gerontology, 39(2), pp. 103-118.
  18. McLaughlin , A., Gandy, M., Allaire, J. and Whitcomb, R., 2012. Putting fun into video games for older adults. Ergonomics in Design: The Quarterly of Human Factors Applications, 20(2), pp. 13-22.
  19. Muijden, J. V., Band, G. P. and Hommel, B., 2012. Online games training aging brains: Limited transfer to cognitive control functions. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 6, pp. 1-13.
  20. Nap, H., de Kort, Y., and IJesselsteijn, W., 2009. Senior gamers: preferences, motivations and needs. Gerontology, 8 (4), pp. 247 - 262.
  21. National Center for Learning Disabilities, 2014-last update, What is executive function?. Available: https://www. understanding-executive-functioning-issues.
  22. PEW Internet Research Project, 2012-last update, Older Adults and Technology Use. Available: http://www. [09/11, 2014].
  23. Sauve, L., Renaud, L., Kaufman, D. and Duplaa, E., 2015. Validation of the educational game of seniors: "Live Well, Live Healthy!" International Educational Technology Conference, IETC, 2014 2015, pp. 674-682.
  24. Schell, R., Hausknecht, S., and Kaufman, D., 2015. Social benefits of playing Wii bowling. games and culture, V11 (1-2), pp. 81 - 103.
  25. Schultz, R., 2006. Age stereotype. Encyclopedia of Aging A-K. 4th edn. New York, NY: Springer.
  26. Selwyn, N., 2005. The social processes of learning to use computers. Social Science Computer Review, 23(1), pp. 122-135.
  27. Sharit, J., Czaja, S., Perdomo, D. and Lee, C., 2004. A costbenefit analysis methodology for assessing product adoption by older user populations. Applied Erognomics, 35, pp. 81-92.
  28. Stephens, R., Satwica, T. and McCarthy, L., 2008. In-game, in-room, in-world: reconnecting video gameplay to the rest of kids' lives. In: R. Stephens, T. Satwica and L. McCarthey, eds, The Ecology of Games: Connecting Youth, Games, and Learning. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, pp. 41-66.
  29. Voida, A. and Greenberg, S., 2012. Console gaming across generations: exploring intergenerational interactions n collocated console gaming. Universal Access in the Information Society, 11, pp. 45-56.
  30. Whitlock, L., McLaughlin, A. and Allaire, J., 2011. Video Game Design for Older Adults: Usability Observation from an Intervention Study. Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Annual Meeting 2011, pp. 187-191.
  31. Wollersheim, D., Merkes, M., Shields, N., Liamputtong, P., Wallis, L., Reynolds, F. and Koh, L., 2010. Physical and psychosocial effects of Wii video game use among older women. International Journal of Emerging Technologies & Society, 8(2), pp. 85-98.
  32. World Health Organization (WHO), Ten Facts on Ageing and Life Course. Available: features/factfiles/ageing/en/ [Sept 10, 2014].
  33. Zhang, F. and Kaufman, D.M., 2015. Physical and cognitive impacts of digital games on older adults: A meta-analytic review. Journal of Applied Gerontology, pp. 1-22.

Paper Citation

in Harvard Style

Schell R. and Kaufman D. (2016). Cognitive Benefits of Digital Games for Older Adults - Strategies for Increasing Participation . In Proceedings of the 8th International Conference on Computer Supported Education - Volume 2: CSEDU, ISBN 978-989-758-179-3, pages 137-141. DOI: 10.5220/0005878501370141

in Bibtex Style

author={Robyn Schell and David Kaufman},
title={Cognitive Benefits of Digital Games for Older Adults - Strategies for Increasing Participation},
booktitle={Proceedings of the 8th International Conference on Computer Supported Education - Volume 2: CSEDU,},

in EndNote Style

JO - Proceedings of the 8th International Conference on Computer Supported Education - Volume 2: CSEDU,
TI - Cognitive Benefits of Digital Games for Older Adults - Strategies for Increasing Participation
SN - 978-989-758-179-3
AU - Schell R.
AU - Kaufman D.
PY - 2016
SP - 137
EP - 141
DO - 10.5220/0005878501370141