About the workshop

Previous assessments of digital games for the older adult market have focused on their use as a tool to promote aspects of well-being – e.g., fostering social interaction and providing cognitive and physical stimulation. This perspective suggests that the primary means of these games are to encourage older adults to better themselves, which introduces an overly functionalist perspective on play. In this workshop, we aim to shift this perspectives on games for older adults by highlighting the hedonic and eudaimonic (i.e., meaningful) value that they offer. To do so, we will explore challenges and opportunities in the design and development of market-specific games to create empowering and engaging experiences.

In this full-day workshop to be held on Monday, August 1st in Dundee, Scotland, we invite submissions from a range of fields, and to promote the value of hedonic and eudaimonic aspects within the context of game design for older populations.

The workshop will be held in conjunction with the first joint international conference of DiGRA and FDG.

The workshop website can be found at dgoa.gerontoludic.com.

Schedule

The workshop will be held on Monday, August 1st at Abertay University in Dundee, Scotland.

Morning: Introductions, critical reflections, discussions

Lunch

Afternoon: Design exercise, wrap-up

**Specific times will be provided upon schedule confirmations with DiGRA and FDG.**

During the full-day workshop, participants will be invited to engage in two main activities. The first part of the workshop will give participants opportunity for brief, two-minute summaries of their submitted work and their position on games for older adults.  In addition, critical reflection upon previous work on games for older adults will be encouraged as a means to identify gaps that need to be addressed. The session will conclude with group work leading to the development of a set of three personas describing older adult players.

Building upon these results, the second part of the workshop will engage participants in practical design exercises to explore new opportunities in game development for an older adult audience.  This includes identifying some of the more salient challenges of game design for older adult populations and player engagement. This session will conclude with a reflective component that encourages participants to 1) assess the initial results from the first part of the workshop with design outcomes of the second part, and 2) identify future avenues for researchers and designers.

The workshop will be documented throughout, and outcomes will be made available to participants and other interested parties through the website. Additionally, the organizers aim to create an interdisciplinary special issue on challenges and future opportunities in game development for older adult players.

Submissions

We invite those interested to submit a two- to three-page position paper that address at least one of the below questions. (Submission templates in Word and LateX are available to download and includes instructions on how your paper should be presented.)

  • What picture of older adults is currently propagated in games research, what are the challenges, and what are the opportunities?
  • What can we learn from previous game design projects addressing older adults, and what were the strengths and weaknesses in their design?
  • How can we create games that encourage older players to take ownership of their gaming experience, empowering them to actively shape the way they interact with games rather than taking the role of passive consumers?
  • How can we balance design efforts that aim to deliver benefits of games with a purpose beyond entertainment to older adults, and consolidate this approach with the idea of playing games purely for entertainment?
  • Which theories, frameworks and approaches would stimulate the design of game for leisure and entertainment as well as playful and engaging serious games?
  • And finally, how should the field prepare itself for the upcoming generations of older adults?

Submissions will be reviewed by an expert panel. Accepted contributions will be shared through the workshop website and integrated into the workshop program.

Important dates:

  • Paper submission: Monday, April 25
  • Notification to authors: Monday, May 16

Organizers

Julie A. Brown is an Assistant Professor of Gerontology within the Department of Social and Public Health at Ohio University. She specializes in gerontechnology with a specific focus on digital gaming among aging populations. This includes middle-aged and older adult preferences, motivation, benefits, and barriers to games and gaming technologies.

Bob De Schutter is the C. Michael Armstrong Professor of Applied Game Design at the College of Education, Health & Society, the Armstrong Institute for Interactive Media Studies and the Scripps Gerontology Center of Miami University (Oxford, OH). His interdisciplinary research and teaching interests include game design, the older audience of digital games, and the use of digital games for eudaimonic pursuits.

Kathrin Gerling is a Senior Lecturer (Associate Professor) in Games Computing at the University of Lincoln, UK. Her research areas include human-computer interaction and accessibility; Kathrin is interested in the design of engaging playful experiences for special populations, for example, older adults, or young people with disabilities, and has an interest in games user research.

Claire Dormann is a Research Fellow with the Institute of Dementia, University of Salford. She specialised in digital games and human-computer interaction, including humour, learning, and the design of playful experiences. Current projects are dedicated to digital games for dementia care, and aging.

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About the author

Mark Rice is a research scientist in the Department of Visual Computing, Institute for Infocomm Research, Singapore. Previously, I was employed at the University of Dundee (UK) where I graduated with a doctorate degree in Applied Computing in 2009. In 2002 I started my research career by joining the Interactive Technologies Research Group at the University of Brighton (UK), and in 2005 completed a research placement at the Advanced Telecommunication Research Institute (Japan). I predominately work within the areas of visual computing, human-computer interaction and software engineering. Research interests are broad and include gerontechnology and serious gaming.

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