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CM Seminar Series: Bob De Schutter

Speaker Name: 
Bob De Schutter
Speaker Title: 
Professor of Applied Game Design
Speaker Organization: 
Miami University (Oxford, OH)
Start Time: 
Monday, March 2, 2020 - 12:00pm
End Time: 
Monday, March 2, 2020 - 1:15pm
Computational Media Department

Giving a voice to the older player - What I learned from 15 years studying and designing games with older adults


The study and design of games in relation to older audiences has historically been a niche field emphasizing the use of serious games for alleviating health risks, cognitive decline and loneliness. While research has shown that these potential side effects of play may be a strong incentive among specific groups of older adults, scholars have criticized this approach for its stereotypical and repressive nature, and found that actively playing older adults demonstrate far richer playing motives reaching beyond health and social benefits. 

As the audience of digital games is growing older, recent inquiries have reported that the latter group of actively playing older adults has been steadily growing. After all, a 65-year-old retiree in 2020 was a 17-year old when they experienced Pong for the first time during their formative years. We therefore see a new kind of older player that embraced games as part of their culture throughout various parts of their lives. They are rediscovering or continuing a familiar hobby in their autumn years, and by doing so, they are presenting the game industry with both challenges and opportunities. In this seminar, I will introduce my work in this field, translate my findings into a strategy for higher education in games, and outline how aspiring game developers can leverage these prospects.


Bob De Schutter (MA, PhD) is the C. Michael Armstrong Professor of Applied Game Design at Miami University (Oxford, OH), where he is affiliated with the College of Education, Health & Society and the Armstrong Institute for Interactive Media Studies. He is also a Research Fellow of the Scripps Gerontology Center, and the owner of game company Lifelong Games. He received his MA in Visual Arts in 2003 at the Karel De Grote-Hogeschool Antwerp (Belgium) and his PhD in Social Science in 2011 at the KU Leuven (Belgium). 

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