While playing computer games probably can’t reverse the effects of some medical conditions, playing on a regular basis might help slow down age-related decline and help you improve your performance in tasks in which the movements required are predictable and stable.
You’re not going to be able to beat Tim Henman or turn the clock back fifty years on the squash court no matter how often you play, but it might help with more routine tasks that demand fine co-ordination like sewing, writing and drawing.
Can playing video games help as we age?
Of course, you’ve got to enjoy playing them too or you won’t bother, so here are five of our favourites that you might like to try!
Computer games in which the player must use physical movement and manual dexterity to succeed will help improve your hand/eye co-ordination and give you a gentle physical workout at the same time.
So why not try playing virtual sports like ten-pin bowling, tennis and golf on your gaming console? Look out for games like Kinect Sports for the Xbox and Wii Sports and Wii Sports Resort.
Computer games to play together
If playing virtual sports sounds like too much hard work (and they can be if you try to keep up with your teenage children…) then Minecraft might be just up your street.
It’s a very gentle, calming game in which you build houses, communities and even entire environments. It stimulates your imagination as well as your hand/eye co-ordination, so is just the thing for those who might not be as physically strong as they used to be but want to try and improve their dexterity and co-ordination.
World of Warcraft
World of Warcraft (or WoW) is classed as a massively multiplayer online role-playing game, which is a fancy way of saying that you play it online alongside hundreds or even thousands of other players who are competing alongside or against you at the same time.
Players create an online character, or avatar, in a fantasy world and then complete various quests or tasks to reach ever-higher levels. WoW is one of the world’s most popular games, giving you an immersive experience like nothing else; some players find themselves losing hours at a time, which could either be very handy or a bit of a curse….
To play WoW requires a subscription but the initial trial period is free.
Work simulation games
If Minecraft is a bit obscure for you then there are a huge number of more hands-on, grounded work simulation games to play on your computer or smartphone.
The games on offer span such diverse jobs as being a farmer, football manager or even a project manager in charge of roadworks. They don’t offer the same high-drama of games like World of Warcraft or Medal of Honour, but they do require lots of planning and strategic thinking, as well as a reasonable level of dexterity.
The simple ones are free, while the more comprehensive ones need to be bought, with some offering in-game purchases too.
Medal of Honour
Finally, for those of you out there who want to sharpen their reflexes and let off a bit of steam at the same time, why not consider one of the Medal of Honour series of games?
As first-person shooter games they’re obviously a bit violent but the more bloodthirsty elements are toned down and the earlier ones in the series tend to emphasis the more intellectual aspects of war and espionage, which might make it more your kind of game.
Video games to help with your balance