The nation’s over-60s are swapping knitting needles and gardening tools for mobile devices and gaming controllers as they look to tackle loneliness and improve their mental health, according to new research from energyhelpline.com.
The UK’s older gamers now spend an average of eight hours gaming each week – just 45 minutes a week less than the nation’s youngest adult gamers (16-29-year-olds) on average. Of course these stats will vary wildly compared to avid gamers or esports fans and players, and the older gamers are playing on mobiles more.
Silver gamers spend 416 hours playing video games per year, according to the research, which saw Prospectus Global survey 2,005 UK gamers in 2021. The majority of older gamers play on a smartphone (49%) or tablet (40%), while one in eight (12%) have splashed out on a PS4.
The findings come after the UK gaming industry reported a record £7 billion in sales last year alone, with research by Ofcom revealing that nearly two-thirds (62%) of UK adults played some form of video game in 2020.
Gaming has apparently become a significant part of the lives of people over 60, according to the study, with two-in-five (41%) admitting they spend more time gaming than on other hobbies including knitting, cooking and gardening.
An additional two-in-five (40%) confess to having dodged household chores to continue gaming, while 13% admit to losing sleep so they can continue playing.
And while popular mobile game Candy Crush (56%) is the older gamers’ distraction of choice, console-loving over-60s are also fans of FIFA (15%), Call of Duty (14%) and Grand Theft Auto (7%).
For those aged 60+, nearly a third (30%) say gaming has helped improve their mental health and a fifth (19%) believe it has helped tackle their loneliness. A further three-in-ten (30%) play to escape reality.
In terms of younger gamers, when asked why they play video games, four in ten (42%) of gamers stated that they play to socialise with friends and other gamers, with this increasing to two thirds (66%) for those aged 16-29.
Gaming is also becoming a more acceptable family activity, with 15% of 16-29-year-olds using video games to socialise with parents and grandparents.
Tashema Jackson, consumer champion at energyhelpine.com, commented: “With older generations looking for new ways to socialise and tackle loneliness, it’s no wonder many have turned to video games, with our research revealing that gaming is an acceptable way for all to socialise – regardless of age.
“As older gamers continue to increase their time gaming, they’re going to see their energy bills rise somewhat thanks to modern consoles using more electricity than their classic counterparts.
“By taking the time to switch to a fixed energy deal, you can make sure you’re not paying over the odds for your energy and can continue gaming without worrying about the impact on your savings.”
Dom is an award-winning writer who graduated from Bournemouth University with a 2:1 degree in Multi-Media Journalism in 2007.
As a long-time gamer having first picked up the NES controller in the late ’80s, he has written for a range of publications including GamesTM, Nintendo Official Magazine, industry publication MCV as well as Riot Games and others. He worked as head of content for the British Esports Association up until February 2021, when he stepped back to work full-time on Esports News UK and as an esports consultant helping brands and businesses better understand the industry.