Video games have become more physically interactive in recent years, and research is beginning to show the potential benefits such games carry for seniors. Whether in a nursing home or reliant on residential home care, elderly video game players may be keeping in better cognitive and physical shape.
Researchers at North Carolina State University recently studied the online video game World of Warcraft (WoW) with both a control group and a set of seniors who played the game for several hours over the course of two weeks. Dr. Anne McLaughlin, co-author of the study, noted the effects the game had on those who played it.
"Among participants who scored well on baseline cognitive functioning tests, there was no significant improvement after playing WoW - they were already doing great," he reported. "But we saw significant improvement in both spatial ability and focus for participants who scored low on the initial baseline tests."
The Human Factors and Ergonomics Society is following another research project of McLaughlin's focused on physically interactive viedo games such as those produced for the Nintendo Wii console. Although this study touts the benefits of games that involve a higher level of motion and activity, as well as social interactions, McLaughlin's team is developing a game that will have the kind of simple controls and ease of play that will help older adults enjoy and benefit from the technology.