Video: Give granny the controller

By George Lewis Correspondent
NBC News
updated 4/9/2007 7:49:27 PM ET 2007-04-09T23:49:27

Call it the graying of the gamers: The largest growing group of people playing videogames in this country is not teenagers, it's seniors. So move over kids, and give Granny the controller.

"It exercises our brain," said Ginger Kotz, a resident at Sedgebrook, a senior living community. "Yeah, it's therapy!"

The big favorite among this group is virtual bowling on the hottest new game gadget, the Nintendo Wii.

"You actually believe that you're at the bowling alley only you're not lugging around a fourteen- or fifteen-pound ball," said Donald Hahn, also a Sedgebrook resident.

If you think that only teenagers play videogames, you're wrong. As millions of baby boomers approach retirement age, the makers of these games are reaching out to an older audience.

At a company called PopCap in Seattle — seller of downloadable games on the Internet — they frequently call on older people to check out their products.

"Forty-seven percent of our audience is over 50 and 19 percent are over 60," says John Vechey, founder of PopCap Games. "That's about 2.5 million seniors per month coming to our site to play games."

The makers of video games make no claims that using their products will slow down Alzheimer's or other ailments that seniors dread. But on the other hand, it makes them feel sharp and it feels good.

"And it allows people to have fun again," says Perrin Kaplan, vice president of Nintendo. "If you can have real, pure fun for 20 minutes a day, that's a good gift."

And if you go to Sedgebrook retirement home, they promise to clean your clock at bowling.

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