Towards a Gerontoludic Manifesto
Keywords:games, ageing, ageism, design
Digital games have become an important part of the technoscape, not only for youngsters, but for players of all ages. Older adults are a large, currently still largely untapped market for innovative game research and development. However, the current discourse on games and ageing can largely be categorized into two themes. The first theme refers to digital games framed as a way for older adults to improve certain skills. The useful, pragmatic qualities, rather than the fun, hedonic aspects of games are emphasized. The second theme identifies the various age-related constraints that prevent older adults from playing. It focuses on the cognitive and physical limitations of older adults. Underlying both themes is a reductionist perspective on ageing as merely a process of decline and debilitation. In this article, we present a “gerontoludic” manifesto. Firstly, games should not be marketed solely as having the purpose of dealing with or mitigating age-related decline and focus on positive aspects of older age (adagio 1: growth over decline). Secondly, age-related adjustments should never interfere with the actual gameplay of the game (adagio 2: playfulness over usefulness). Finally, game researchers and game industry should put more efforts in understanding what differentiates elderly players, rather than seeing them as united in their age-related impairments (adagio 3: heterogeneity over unification). As this manifesto is a first step that needs further abutment by a wider community, we welcome debate and additions from game designers and researchers to further this manifesto and to move beyond ageism in games.
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