These video games can help mature gamers unwind — and increase their gray matter

About 21 percent of gamers in the United States are over the age of 50.

Couple holding game controllers in front of television
Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash
  • More than 164 million Americans play video games on their phones, computers, or gaming consoles.
  • An entire fifth of American gamers are over the age of 50.
  • Results of studies suggest games can improve memory and reduce signs of aging.


According to a 2019 report by the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), more than 164 million adults play video games and three-quarters of all American households have at least one gamer inside. While the average gamer is 33 years old, 21 percent of gamers are over 50. Reasons vary from leisurely fun, to spending time with younger relatives, curing boredom, and improving mental dexterity.

While there are no rules to which games more mature players can enjoy, studies have found that certain games are more popular among older players. Some have even been found to improve the health of senior players diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease and dementia. Here are 6 games across numerous platforms (Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Playstation 4, and PC) that are worth adding to your cart.

This four-in-one ticks a lot of the boxes for what more mature players like.

According to the EPA report, Baby Boomer gamers (ages 55 to 64) are really into virtual board games and the classics such as Monopoly and Scrabble. This pack is available for Xbox and PS4 and also contains solitaire and Risk.

3D Mario games have been shown to increase grey matter.

A recent study conducted by the University of Montreal on people between the ages of 55 and 75 found that video games (specifically Super Mario 64) caused a significant increase in gray matter in the hippocampus. The loss of gray matter is associated with diseases such as Alzheimers.

Based on the results, the researchers hypothesized that 3D games could be used to improve memory and prevent the effects of the disease. Super Mario 64 was made for previous generation consoles (Nintendo 64 and Nintendo DS) but Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe is similar and available for the Switch.

Few games exercise the brain as throughly as WoW.

A 2012 study by researchers at North Carolina State University found that seniors who played the "cognitively challenging game" World of Warcraft showed an improvement in spatial ability and focus, especially those who scored the lowest in the baseline tests. The multiplayer online role playing game was originally released in 2004 and has since had several expansion packs, Battle for Azeroth being its seventh (released in 2018).

This world-building game requires strategy and imagination.

One of the top-selling games of 2018, Minecraft is great for older players who like puzzles and simulations, and for those who want to spend time with the young gamers in their family.

Tetris 99 offers hours of puzzle play online or solo.

Sixty-five (65) percent of older male gamers prefer playing alone, according to the EPA. The percentage is slightly smaller for female gamers in that age group at around 58 percent. A large portion of gamers over 55 (35 percent of men, 45 percent of women) are also big fans of puzzle games. Tetris has been the king of the solo puzzle genre for decades, so this this one is an easy recommendation. This recent version for the Nintendo Switch comes with an online membership, but there is also an extensive "Marathon mode" for offline play.

Because sometimes you just want to run a farm.

This farming simulation game lets you do everything from raising livestock to mining ore, all while making sure that you have enough time, energy, and money to get things done. It's not the most exciting game in the traditional sense, but for those looking for a calmer gaming experience it comes highly rated by industry critics and online reviewers alike.

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