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Games for the 50+: A New Outlet for Mentoring


Wizard 101 by Kingsisle helps older players mentor younger ones.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve written about the gaming study by Dr. Jennifer Jacobs Henderson, associate professor and department chair, and Dr. Aaron Delwiche, associate professor, of the Department of Communication at Trinity University. For the final installment in this series, I want to focus on a very interesting insight from Drs. Henderson and Delwiche – many older gamers really like the mentoring aspect of multiplayer online games. It’s not about the competition but about helping others.

As we at AARP have introduced the concept of Real Possibilities, we are also introducing a powerfully new idea, Life Reimagined. These ideas recognize that for most of us we’re just starting to get going as we get older and we have talents and interests we can build on, whether at work or in other settings. For the players identified in the study, many are able to use their talents and interests in a new setting, helping others – often younger players – succeed.

As with past blogs, the players’ quotes sum the concept up best.

Not only are these quotes great at showcasing the idea of mentoring but they also turn a common stereotype on its head. When technology or gaming typically comes up, the assumption is usually one of younger generations helping older generations. While this does happen, these quotes – and the study overall – show that it goes the other way, too, and involves learning not just technology but life skills. I would like to make one final ask for your stories – what examples do you have about mentoring in Wizard101 or other games?  Do you have other examples of powerful benefits of gaming?  We’d love to hear them!

View the entire Games for the 50+ series:


Bob Stephen is AARP’s Vice President for Home and Family. In this role he works on issues such as caregiving, intergenerational families, livable communities and technology across the organization.  He connects with family and friends through online gaming.

Image courtesy of Kingsisle