Multiplayer online games

Can people still play the same games as they get older?

With the input and response speeds demanded by fighting games, this keeps pace with the data available. “I notice that my reaction time may be slightly slower,” says Wong. Although he is quick to add that he remains above the level of the majority of young players. “I can still react to most things quite well, even at 35,” he adds. “People don’t normally want to test my reactions, even now. “

Of course, the challenges of modern gaming aren’t just about reactions. They also involve more complex systems, as Westerholm realized, and that can be an even bigger hurdle for older players. Reimers explains that certain elements of cognition decline even faster than reactions, especially the “costs of change,” the time added to our responses when multitasking. In experiments where subjects have to keep two ideas in mind at the same time, such as simultaneously saying whether the faces appearing on a screen are male or female and whether they are happy or sad, older people react disproportionately more slowly than younger people, compared to when they only have to identify a single trait.

These results suggest that something like timing a split second of a competitive fighting game would become doubly more difficult with age. “When you have to make decisions and you have a number of things you can lean on and you have to decide how to react, your speed takes an extra hit,” says Reimers. “It’s the same with things like divided attention where you have to watch two streams,” he adds, which is another thing that games often expect of us: to move and act while watching out for them. gauges or by coordinating with other players.

If you feel like you might need to hang up your controller when you’re 30, let alone when you retire, it’s not all bad news. On the one hand, says Reimers, while some aspects of cognition gradually slow down with age or decline more sharply, there is a third type that remains flat or even improves: the “crystallized intelligence” of general knowledge. . After all, over 40 years of experience must count for something.

Mackey certainly believes it. “Raw mechanical skills or reaction time are just a small component of what makes a person perform at a high level,” he says. Similar to some sports, he believes that age can compensate for the speed and skill of young people. “Look at world champions like Randy Couture or George Foreman. They faced much younger and more explosive athletes, but still won. Experience is a great attribute and advantage.

And if it works for combat sports, why not fighting games? “Veteran players have a lot of tips from old games that could be useful in a tournament setting,” says Wong. “Think of it as a one-time hat trick where you can use a specific strategy to gain momentum against another player who might not have as much information.”

And there is always room for improvement, as data from Aim Lab shows. While practice doesn’t make you perfect, it does help. “Improvement is faster for 18 to 20 year olds,” explains Mackey. “However, even in the 41 to 50 age group, we still see an 18% improvement after one week.” Reimers had similar conclusions. Although he wonders if “brain training” exercises have an impact on improving skills in general, he notes that if someone repeats a task over and over again, they certainly improve in that particular task. . And this seems particularly relevant for games, where we often have to perform the same actions over and over again.

One problem, then, is that older players generally have less time to train, but there are ways to adjust to that. David Kelly, 55, started playing with people like Pong, Space invaders, and Asteroids in the late 1970s. His tastes remain old-fashioned – he prefers shoot-em-ups (shmups), arcade racing games, and high-scoring multiplayer games. It even has a DX asteroids arcade cabinet. “My concentration was better when I was younger,” he says. “As I get older and take on responsibility, I tend not to be so engrossed in games. But that didn’t stop him from getting “one credit completions” (1CC) on notorious hellish shmups, with a slow and steady approach. “Even though I’m not as fast as I used to be, I play smarter and stick to one or two games at a time,” he said. “I completed games such as Giga Wing over the past 12 months than I ever could have considered doing when I was younger.

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