Video games are wildly popular, and that popularity is only increasing as time goes on. According to the Entertainment Software Association, 155 million Americans played video games in 2014. Although people assume “typical gamers” are teenage boys, gamers today are an incredibly diverse group: Men and women play video games almost evenly, and games are enjoyed by people of all ages. In fact, more than one-fourth of today’s gamers are over the age of 50. Older adults often find that video games are one of their favorite forms of senior activity, and that games offer some surprising benefits. Here are three reasons to start (or continue!) playing video games – at any age!

1. Great stories

As video games become more and more mainstream, artists and storytellers are drawn to the medium. This means that video games are becoming more intricate and telling more interesting and compelling stories. All forms of media come down to storytelling one way or another, but video games offer something other media forms can’t: interaction with the story. The story isn’t told to a passive audience, you have to find or be part of it yourself.

2. Socializing

Many video games are multiplayer, so they provide a unique opportunity to enjoy time with other people. Whether playing together in-person or connecting to play with others online, playing with other people sparks competition, conversation, and shared interactions that all add to the fun.  Depending on the game, it can also be a great way to connect with family. Games like kart-racing and Wii bowling are fun for people of all ages and ability levels, and are a great way to spend a night in with the people close to you.

3. Better health

Video games have a reputation for making people sit on the couch for hours, but that’s not always the case these days! Many game systems are now designed to get you up and moving. Just Dance and games for the Wii Fit and Xbox use cameras, motion sensors and other technology so that you are physically involved in the game play.

However, even if you are sitting down, video games may make you healthier. One study found that seniors who played computer games had better balance than seniors who didn’t. Another study found that video games had a positive effect on sight, and improved senior’s ability to see small print and fine details. Even so, it isn’t healthy to sit for too long: If you are playing video games while seated, be sure to get up and walk away from time to time or set a timer to limit your overall “screen time.”

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