By Marcus Segal, Co-Founder/CEO, ForeVR Games
When one thinks of “a gamer,” seniors aren’t necessarily the first group that comes to mind. But they are a fast growing demo in gaming, particularly in VR, and according to an AARP study completed in 2020, revealed that 44 percent of Americans age 50+ enjoy video games (interactive digital entertainment) at least once a month, up from 38 percent in 2016.
That translates into nearly 51 million gamers in 2019 playing an average of five hours a week, compared to 40 million active players three years ago.. Video games offer a sense of community and provide a fun distraction from the real world, an appealing combination for many seniors who may feel alone or isolated. And COVID only served to accelerate the gaming trend among older Americans who weren’t able to engage in person with their friends and family.
More importantly, gaming is fun. The chance to connect and play with your grandchildren or school your competitive son-in-law, those are challenges you just can’t pass up. When we launched ForeVR Games last year, we wanted to make the game for everyone regardless of ability, age or geography. And we decided to start with bowling since it is considered one of America’s favorite pastimes.
We got our team together and started thinking about ways to make our games really fun AND accessible for all ages and skill levels. We embraced a technique called adaptive design that allows players to play the game no matter their ability. The goal was to enable game play that requires minimal physical effort and can be achieved in a seated or lying position. The resulting gaming experience makes it one of the most inclusive games available for everyone to play.
Speaking of which…our first game, ForeVR Bowl, immerses the player in a variety of bowling environments, with different themes, soundtracks and tricked out balls so players can have a night out (especially important during COVID when there were no bowling alleys open!). Each alley within the game has a social area – a coffee bar, dance floor, lounge area and bar – where players can hang out and catch up in real time. And players are loving it; we have heard about a love connection, business meeting, friends reunion, grandparents teaching their grandkids, family face offs and girls night out. Some of our players don’t even end up bowling.
Our top bowler is a 65-year old retiree from Florida who was looking for an outlet during COVID. He has mastered the game and we are working with him to come up with new ideas for this game and others. From the soundtracks to the environment, we want you to have the best immersive experience ever. And people like Steve are proof that we are doing something right!
VR is connecting folks all over the world and we are really excited to be a part of this revolution. One user even shared with us that he and his senior dad – who live thousands of miles from each other – play ForeVR Bowl to stay connected and catch up. No other game developer that we are aware of has our focus on appealing to the broadest possible audience. We have an accessibility advisor (Cathy Bodine, Associate Professor, Director, Center for Inclusive Design and Engineering and my 82-year-old dad is an official tester. So our games are definitely road tested
Providing entertainment for all ages with truly immersive and adaptive play is in our DNA. Game on!
About the Virtual Reality Market:
The virtual reality market is on pace to reach $160B/yr by 2023. VR sets like Oculus’s Quest 2 becoming more and more accessible to the masses contributes to this expected meteoric growth.
About Marcus Segal:
Marcus Segal is the co-founder and CEO of ForeVR Games, a VR-focused gaming studio looking to bring popular games to the virtual reality universe.