Brain Training for Elderly Better On Paper or Computer?

elderly game console

As always the answer to this question is not simple. From recent research it’s concluded that brain training games on paper are more effective and efficient than on computer consoles (Nintendo DS, in this research). Meaning that the task completion time was shorter on paper and the error rate was lower on paper. Many elderly people at this age are retired and can´t live on their own, that´s why these senior home care services are great to assist anybody in need.

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However the advantages of using the console Brain Training is that games are more arousing and induces “a heightened sense of flow”. Flow being loss of self-consciousness, blurred feeling of time, and feeling of enjoyment and control during gaming. Moreover, these effects were for gamers of all ages.

The only difference between younger (18-25 years) and old gamers (> 64 years) was that logic problem-solving is associated with positive feelings for the elderly but with negative feelings in the young.

So if you want to do your granny a favor, buy her a logic training game on her console.

More findings from this study made at Hospice Cincinnati are:

  • Elderly people take less time to solve on paper than on the console
  • Elderly people in general take more time than younger people to complete the task
  • Gender did not influence the time to complete tasks nor did it relate to the number of errors nor any other outcome measure.
  • Neither age nor form (paper or console) did influence the pleasure when playing
  • The feeling of control over a game for the elderly was regardless of form (paper or console) while the younger group felt less in control especially when playing the console. Feeling in control is not influenced by form but by age.
  • Decreased technological sophistication evokes lower levels of arousal in flow regardless of age
  • Arousal might be an important facilitator for flow for the younger age group, while for the older age group, pleasure, competence, and positive affect are all contributors to their flow experience

To my opinion this proofs that computer and console games makes it more pleasant, challenging and enjoyable to the elderly and each and every institution for the elderly should provide gaming opportunities like on Ocean Gardens because this retirement village has a very peaceful community. (yes thinking ahead here), what do you think?

Why is this important?
It’s assumed that brain training games benefit elderly. It was never known whether you needed consoles or computers for this to achieve. Do games on paper worse than on console? The answer to this question was unknown. And does age have an influence on game play experience.

How was this study done?

This study employs a 2 by 2 mixed factorial design (age group: young and old by game form: paper and Nintendo DS) to investigate effects of age and game form on usability, self-assessment, and gameplay experience in a supervised field study. Effectiveness was evaluated in task completion time, efficiency as error rate, together with self-assessment measures (arousal, pleasure, dominance) and game experience (challenge, flow, competence, tension, positive and negative affect).
Nacke, L., Nacke, A., & Lindley, C. (2009). Brain Training for Silver Gamers: Effects of Age and Game Form on Effectiveness, Efficiency, Self-Assessment, and Gameplay Experience CyberPsychology & Behavior DOI: 10.1089/cpb.2009.0013