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.
I've been writing about the landmark 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. Their study is based on over 32,000 users of Wizard101, an online multiplayer game that surprisingly has a large number of 50+ users. One of the biggest surprises to us at AARP are the findings that show gaming benefits for caregivers and those who have gone through a challenging life transition.
Over 60 percent of Americans over the age 50 are grandparents. But, as the average age of a first-time grandparent in the United States is 48, there are also a number of grandparents under 50, too. So, grandparents are something we feel is important to understand at AARP. We know that grandparents want to increase the connection to their grandkids and want to help get them on the right path in life. But, there are barriers - distance or physical limitations can limit interactions and basic generational differences particularly around technology can also be issues. In their landmark study, Dr. Jennifer Jacobs Henderson, associate professor and department chair, and Dr. Aaron Delwiche, associate professor of the Department of Communication at Trinity University, found that massive multiplayer games like Wizard101 are one way that grandparents are overcoming both barriers.
At a conference last year, several of us at AARP had the chance to hear about the ways in which the 50-plus and those not quite 50 find benefits in playing online multiplayer games. There are several parts of that last statement that tend to elicit pushback from others - first, many believe online multiplayer video games are played by teens or young millennial men. Second, the idea of a multiplayer video game may elicit images of violent games which in the mind of some do not have value. It turns out that data on gaming plus a soon-to-be released study show both of these assumptions are wrong.
I can remember the very first time I saw The Wizard of Oz. I sat cross-legged on my parents bed, staring up at the television. I don't think I moved an inch until the Wicked Witch and Dorothy fought in the castle hallway, sending me running!
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