This article made me initially have a double-take. Nintendo in a Saga magazine? The whole idea sounded bonkers, half their readership would probably have no idea what the DS was, never mind what you did with it (“it sort of looks like a spectacle case, dear”).
Then I thought about it a little more. I had an eye-opening experience last year - my parents have now retired to a sleepy village in Cornwall, and I gave them my old Sega Dreamcast to play with since my Dad showed an interest in games but wasn’t sure if he’d really get into them so didn’t want to spend any major cash without knowing. Bear in mind at this stage neither of my parents had really ever played a video game, and found console controllers quite cumbersome and confusing. I didn’t think much of it, Dad said he enjoyed playing Crazy Taxi and Puzzle Bubble a lot but I still kind of expected him to get bored of it.
We went to visit them after a few months to see their new place, and in the evening had a game of Puzzle Bobble. Now, this is a truly great 2-player game, Marie and I used to play versus matches for hours. We got pretty damn good at it. Now, we hadn’t played for a little while (since the Dreamcast had been sitting in a cupboard for a while) but we figured our skills wouldn’t take long to dust off. They didn’t, but my Dad proceeded to beat us anyway. Consistently. Oh, we won a few games but the balance was definitely in his favour. When I was first watching him play, I was thinking about the kind of trick shots I would do in certain cases, and then was agog when he did exactly that, and pulled it off regularly. He’d figured out all these play techniques for himself with no input from us ‘veteran’ players. I was at first completely stunned, then later really impressed. My Dad had gone from being completely video game illiterate to an excellent PB player in only a few months. He hasn’t got the hang of lots of different game types yet, but it’s just a matter of time, and he’s really enjoying himself. They intend to buy one of the next-gen consoles this year.
We tend to think that older people don’t ‘get’ games, but really it depends on the game. They probably don’t want to play endless streams of FPS’s like their (grand)children, but as my tastes mature, I don’t either. Nintendo are squaring at the ‘age / gender inclusive’ end of the games spectrum, and they just might pull it off. Retired people have lots of spare time and games are a good form of entertainment, with the right kind of games I don’t see why it can’t work. I look forward to playing my Dad online sometime, and hopefully not getting beaten too much. Well, he does have a lot of time to practice 😕 I’m getting the excuses lined up already….