I hadn’t heard of her until now, but Barbara “Old Grandma Hardcore” St. Hilaire is my new hero. Her grandson Timothy is blogging her fragtastic (and expletive-laden) adventures. Check it out as she breaks in her new PS3 with some Resistance: Fall of Man action:
St. Hilaire was featured in a 2005 BusinessWeek article here.
Old Grandma Hardcore has been firing away since 1975, in the Age of Atari. She started by stopping off at the mall arcade with her kids while shopping. “Then I really got into it when Nintendo came out with Super Mario. I remember playing with my son all night long, competing against each other.” Since then, she has played hundreds of titles and worn out a long line of gaming consoles, from Atari to Xbox.
Though some may find it surprising, the senior gaming trend isn’t hard to understand. For starters, many folks living on Social Security find they don’t have a lot of money for entertainment or travel, and video gaming is a fun and affordable diversion, especially if you rent games or trade titles on the Internet.
“It makes total sense,” says Robert Coffey, a gaming industry consultant and former executive editor of Computer Gaming World. “An increasingly large generation looks at gaming as a recreational activity like sports, a commonplace part of their lives. Older players take games for granted, the way younger kids now assume that TiVo and iPods were always around.”
Research suggests that “gaming gray” might also have real benefits. A 2002 Harvard University report cited significant increases in reaction time for gamers over 60, while researchers at the University of Rochester reported that video games can help improve vision: Tests on nongamers found that playing just 10 hours of fast-paced video games improved their eyesight.
Gaming can also hone reflexes. Murray says it “keeps your mind alert, because you’re forced to constantly think and react, you have to plan your moves and attacks, and it’s sure good for arthritis!”
For St. Hilaire, gaming also has a social aspect: “It gives you a connection with your kids, something in common with the younger generation.” In fact, St. Hilaire is the matriarch of a large gaming family who regularly play against each other online, ranging in age from 5 to 69.