Video games for seniors in Japan

Who do you picture when you think of an arcade? Children? In Japan, you would not just picture children. Seniors citizens have become such frequent visitors that Sega Corporation spokeswoman, Kyoko Matsuda, has already stated that the company will be targeting the older client.

Seniors have explained why they have ‘hit the arcades.’ One lady stated: “ I don’t have anything to say to my husband anymore. It’s much better to come here than just sit in the house watching TV all day. We need some excitement, too.”  Another man stated,  “It keeps my brain vibrant.” In response, arcades are offering special senior days. They have even discontinued their high technology player cards and returned back to paper since it’s “senior friendly.”

Is the real issue here that seniors are playing video games? Or is it that Japan is getting older?

“New figures released by the government estimate people aged 65 and older will make up nearly 40 percent of the population of Japan 50 years from now. Even more troubling, the country’s population is expected to shrink by 30 percent, with birth rates showing little signs of improvement.” Statistics specifically estimate that “seniors will outnumber children by 4 to 1.”  So, is this why Sega is aiming its production at seniors?

Some blame women for not having children and instead focusing on their careers. “On average, Japanese women have 1.4 children. That number is 1.9 for U.S. women, according to the CDC.” Or could it be the fact that life expectancy in Japan continues to rise?  Japan has already been known to have the highest in the world.

Do you think it’s a good idea to develop “senior friendly” video games? What about from a business aspect? Should Sega also target US seniors? Or are ‘senior friendly’ arcades only common in Japan?

See:

http://www.cnn.com/2012/02/08/world/asia/japan-older-gamers/index.html?hpt=wo_mid

http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20101113123543AAJnIkb

http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2012/01/japans-population-to-shrink-nearly-a-third-by-2060/

http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2012/01/japans-population-to-shrink-nearly-a-third-by-2060/

3 comments

  1. I absolutely believe in developing video games specifically marketed for sale to seniors. I think there exists a viable market for “senior-friendly” games in both the United States and Japan especially as the number of seniors who played video games during their more formative years continues to increase.

    I have had discussions with people from generations that did not grow up with computers and the video game industry on the topic of “adult video-gaming,” and it remains my contention that generally speaking, only those that grew up playing video games will play and appreciate video games well on into adulthood. I believe that those that did not grow up playing video games cannot appreciate them on the same level as those that did. As to why this is the case, I will leave it to the neuroscientists to answer.

  2. Why not? Video games can be a great way to pass the time if they are something that you like to do and going to an arcade can be a good excuse for elderly people to get out of the house as their activity and mobility decline. I would be interested to see what types of games are senior friendly that would be developed. While I cant speak to how aging feels, it seems that using the reflexes necessary to play a video game might be of interest and possibly rewarding to the elderly whose reflexes are beginning to slow. Also it is a safe way to test and work on reflexes unlike some others that can become dangerous as people age such as driving. However, I do not see this as a large money making target audience because seniors tend to live on limited income, so while “senior days” may attract people to the arcade, it does not seem likely that many would be able to spend hundreds of dollars on gaming systems and games.

  3. I think marketing to seniors is actually a smart idea. Neuroscientists and Researchers are continuously finding that “exercising” your brain can help stave off dementia. Working through complex mental challenges can keep the brain healthy and promote neuron regeneration and can actually reduce the build up of a protein that causes Alzheimer’s.

    Video games and arcades could be an easy and accessible way for senior’s to have access to these services. Also, as Adam pointed out, they may not feel comfortable trying out unfamiliar technology so specifically directing marketing towards seniors might make them feel more at ease. Perhaps putting more emphasis on the potential health benefits might make the idea seem a little more appealing.

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