The Digital Australia Report 2016 launched this past Tueday (7/28/15) is the sixth study looking at video gaming in Australia and clearly displays that games based technologies are being used for much more than sheer entertainment value.

The study shows that Australians are believe that video games help their thinking skills, a way to fight dementia and considerably more.

The report was commissioned by the Interactive Games and Entertainment Association and is based on a survey where over 1200 Australian households,  3,398 individuals including around 1,000 over the age of 50.

A whopping 89% of participants stated that they believe video gaming improved their thinking skills and 79% stated they believe that gaming improves mental stimulation.

Dr. Jeff Brand, a professor at Bond University and the leading author of the report stated that many people feel there are getting cognitive benefits from gaming.

“That is not evidence that that actually occurs but it is evidence that they feel that it is worth trying different solutions to ongoing and growing problems with an ageing population,” Dr Brand told Technology Review.

Participants in the study also showed that 79% believe gaming improves coordination and dexterity, 75% cited improvements in emotional well-being.  Some 71% stated improvement in balance and another 69% stated it aided physical fitness.

Towards aging in a positive fashion 55% of the participants reported quality of life benefits, 47% cited improvements in optimism and 42% stated adding purpose to life.  The report also showed 37% believe video gaming increases mobility.

These are some of the areas of concerns particularly for people over the age of 65 for maintaining quality of life and older people are increasingly turning to games because they can see the benefit, said Dr Brand.

“The big shift is that if you would have asked people over the age of 65, or even over 50, 10 years ago about games, they would have laughed. But today, games are seen as legitimate for all sorts of positive personal as well as social benefits.”

The most common reasons Australians play video games is relief of boredom for fun.  With older players according to the report it is a different story.

The research found that 68% of Australians play video games including 49% of over-50s, which is the fastest growing segment of new players, and 39% of over-65s.

Breaking the older gamers down further, video games are enjoyed by:

  • 51% of 55-64 year-olds
  • 41% 65-74 year-olds
  • 35% of 75-84 year-olds
  • 17% 85-94 year-olds

Over 50s make up 23 per cent of the total playing population.

“When we did the study two years ago, the proportion of people over 50 who played was about 40 per cent. It is now almost 50 per cent. That is a fairly substantial growth,” Dr Brand told Technology Review.

“Players aged 50 and over report that keeping the mind active is their main reason for playing. Playing video games to relieve boredom declines with age, playing to keep the mind active increases,” it said.