Saturday, April 10, 2021
VR gamesVirtual Reality

VR Gaming for Adults

Improve mental, physical, and emotional well-being with other adults who enjoy VR gaming.

 

Development of immersive technology is happening at a rapid pace and increasing numbers of adults previously unfamiliar with gaming are using virtual reality headsets for fun, fitness, and social interaction. Options like the Oculus Quest 2 make it easy for anyone to jump right into virtual reality and VR gaming, and it’s nice to know you’re not alone.

Who Is Playing Games?

Whether you’re 20 or 70, gaming is becoming increasingly popular among adults. Gamers 18 or older represent nearly 80% of the video-gaming population, based on a 2020 study, and lest you think most of those are new to adulthood, the average gamer is actually 34 years old and nearly a quarter (23%) of all gamers in the United States are over the age of 50.

When it comes to VR gaming, early informal polls and numerous newly created groups for older gamers (over age 50) seem to indicate that many of the people picking up headsets are even older than the average age of traditional gamers.

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Another interesting observation is that many of the adults jumping into VR for health, fitness, or fun have no previous gaming experience. This was certainly my personal experience as I had never been a gamer prior to 2017 when I was introduced to virtual reality at age 46. Also, results from an ongoing survey through VR Community Builders, a non-profit organization that promotes inclusive environments, reveal that around 12% of VR gamers have had no prior experience with gaming. (Survey responses will be shared at a later date; preliminary results are shared here with permission.)

In traditional video games, adult women actually represent a greater portion of the population (33%) than boys under the age of 18 (17%). This trend continues with VR gaming and possibly in even greater numbers.

There’s a wonderful diversity in VR communities that definitely includes representation of adult gamers.

Why Is VR Gaming Appealing to Adults?

In 2019, AARP conducted an online study to gauge the use of video games among people age 50 and over. Video games were defined as any interactive digital entertainment, including computers, gaming consoles, tablets, or phones, and there were some interesting findings, but the fact that older adults are becoming increasingly interested in gaming technologies is noteworthy.

Forty-seven percent of survey participants stated that they played games daily, an increase of 7% compared to the 2016 survey.

Like younger people, many adults enjoy gaming because it’s fun and challenging. Studies show that young people also play games to relieve stress and express frustration in a healthy manner. The unique combination of technology and physicality possible in VR gaming appeals to people of all ages, but has particular benefits for adults who might have limited exercise. Below you’ll find some of the benefits of VR gaming as well as some recommended games.

Mental Acuity

As a general rule, gaming is an excellent way to stay mentally sharp. Logic and puzzle-based games encourage stimulation of the hippocampus, an area of the brain that plays a prominent role in learning and memory. Gaming contributes to improved short-term memory, decrease mild cognitive impairment, and it might help prevent development of diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

Here are some recommended VR games:

Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes VR game

Social

As adults move into mid-life or beyond, frequently they begin to feel socially isolated as children leave home, lifestyles change, friends move or pass away, etc. This has been increased exponentially during the pandemic and it’s especially true of single adults or retirees who have limited contact with others.

VR gaming is immersive and provides a sense of presence unlike any previous gaming platform. When someone is in a virtual environment, it feels as if they’re really there, which can provide much needed human interaction for people who might otherwise feel completely alone.

Here are some recommended VR games:

  • Dance Central
  • Star Trek Bridge Crew
  • Cook-Out: A Sandwich Tale
  • Bigscreen Beta
  • AltspaceVR

Physical Fitness

While traditional gaming does stimulate the brain, VR gaming adds in a physical component that translates to physical activity and exercise. Since users become immersed in an enjoyable virtual environment, the time they spend there translates to increased physical activity and can greatly improve a player’s health and fitness.

VR Game Synth Riders Announces Updates and Live Fitness Classes

Here are some recommended VR games:

  • Supernatural
  • The Climb
  • Pistol Whip
  • Beat Saber
  • Synth Riders

Accessibility

VR provides a safe, affordable way for people to have fun even if they’re prevented from enjoying certain experiences in physical reality due to financial, health, or family constraints. Whether someone wants to visit a far away land, enjoy an activity they can no longer safely do in physical reality, or simply try something new, there are many options.

Here are some recommended VR games:

  • Apollo 11 VR
  • Everest VR
  • VR Regatta
  • Wander
  • Google Earth VR

Relaxation

Gaming improves emotional well-being in many ways, but being able to turn off the stresses of the world and be totally immersed in another environment can be particularly relaxing. Some experiences, such as those listed below, are designed specifically to help people focus on mental wellness.

Guided meditation VR app virtual reality experiences

Here are some recommended VR games:

  • Guided Meditation VR
  • Where Thoughts Go
  • Tripp
  • Guided Tai Chi
  • Nature Treks VR
See Also:  The Best VR Meditation Apps to Try

How to Begin

As you can see, there are many benefits to VR for fun, fitness, and social interaction. For most of these activities, all you need is a standalone headset such as the Quest, but there are some experiences available only through PCVR. That means you’d need a gaming computer and either a PCVR headset such as the HTC Vive, Valve Index, or Oculus Rift.

Alternately, you could use a Quest with a cable and hook to the gaming PC for certain games and experiences while playing others untethered. The costs add up quickly for any sort of setup that involves a PC, but many adults prefer the increased resolution and game selection.

In addition to headset selection, it’s also a good idea to plug in with a community and the choices are endless. You can engage with overall VR communities, ones tied to a particular game, those meant for ladies only or perhaps people from a certain region. Regardless of what you choose, people who become part of a community tend to gain more from the overall experience.

So choose your headset, check out some games, and have fun meeting other adults interested in VR gaming!

 

Sonya Haskins
the authorSonya Haskins
Sonya Haskins is a freelance writer who specializes in VR gaming and esports. She founded VR Community Builders, a non-profit organization that supports positive, inclusive environments.