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5 Ways Video Games Unite Grandparents and Grandchildren

04/10/2021

Author: Jo Robertson


Video games can feel like a hurdle between you and your grandchildren, but here are 5 ways they can help you play together. From sharing interests to laughing together or helping each other win, games are great for intergenerational connection.

If you are a parent of young children and you are lucky enough to have grandparents living nearby, you will know what a useful thing it is to have help on hand. Not to mention the valuable qualities the grandparent relationship can bring to a child.

Some grandparents are the kind to get stuck in and involved in what kids are doing, with others is more a case of, stop what you are doing and make some conversation now they have made all the effort to visit.

One area where grandparents can feel like outsiders is with the video games that their grandchildren enjoy. It can be a challenge to engage older generations in new technology but there are lots of benefits for both sides if they can find a way to engage.

Inspired by these tweets we wanted to come up with some ways to help grandparents get involved in gaming:
“My grandchildren often turn up with a console in hand. I will try and show more interest and maybe they can show me how to play the game they are playing so we can take turns.”

“As a parent I was up to date with consoles and games but now as a grandparent I feel a bit out of touch. It's been great reading your articles. My granddaughter keeps telling me to get a switch so I can play animal crossing with her but I am not sure I'll know what to do.’

1. Discover Grandparents Interests

Finding a game about a grandparent’s hobby or interest is a lovely way to share that with a child. Of course, this doesn’t replace actually heading out and fishing together, going to the theatre or throwing a pot, but it can be a good way to complement that and pique grandchildren’s interests.

Wii-Sports games are a great place to start, Golf and Bowling are gentle competitive games that are easy to get the hang of. For more of a board game experience, there is Wii Party that’s played in short rounds, so it is easy to dip in and out of. Games like Farm Together or Bee Simulator or the colourful Viva Pinata are a way of bringing the outside in.

But you can also search the database for things that grandparents enjoy and you will likely find a game about that topic. They may need some help from grandchildren to pick the best one and then get started, but that’s all part of the fun.

Search the database for games about grandparent’s hobbies:

2. Games Where Grandparents Are Heroes

Of course, grandparents shouldn’t be seen as fading flowers or be consigned to crosswords and gardening. You may be surprised to know that there is a large proportion of 45-65-year-olds who play a wide range of video games.

We have a list of video games on the database which put older characters at centre stage, where they are the heroes of the game. These Grandparent Heroes tackle the in-game adventures in their own way, and have a huge impact on the worlds, characters and stories they are a part of.

3. Games Where Grandparents Help Children Win

Although it can seem like children will always be ahead of older players, finding games that require different skills (particularly those grandparents have) is a great way to surprise youngsters with intergenerational teamwork.

It can take a bit of searching to find the right mix of co-operation and play styles but it’s worth the effort. Find the right game and everybody benefits. This may be where the grandparent plays a helping role to a more experienced younger player. Equally, it may be that the younger player is helped by the wisdom, planning and strategy of their senior teammate.

Find games that need grandparents’ skills:

4. Games Grandparents Enjoy on Their Own

Along with games to play together, finding games you love to play not only helps you understand the hobby but can offer great experiences. This is true for grandparents too.

Remember the Brain Training craze (if grandparents can have crazes!) when the Nintendo DS came out. My mum was all for keeping her grey matter alive by doing quizzes on the DS we bought her.

There are loads of ways that older people can engage with gaming. This can be on a dedicated console like the Switch or DS, but can also be on a mobile phone that is a really accessible way to enjoy games. If you are still keen to keep your brian working there are lots of puzzle games on Android and IOS like Patterned and Under Leaves.

Find games grandparents will enjoy:

5. Games About The End Of Life

We almost didn’t include this one in our list because it’s a topic we don’t often talk about. Getting older inevitably leads to considering the end of life. This may seem like a topic too sad or weighty to be taken on by a video game, but actually, there are some really unique ways to engage with this topic.

This might be as simple as an older man travelling back to his hometown in Old Man’s Journey. Or it could be a chance to reflect on the stages of life in a game like Tree or Passage.

There are other games that offer space to talk about our fading memories. This can be the intertwined puzzles and sentiment in Hindsight the heavier story of fraying faculties in Before I Forget, or revelling in unexpected history in Open Roads.

These are unique ways for different members of the family, whether young or old, to talk about and have open conversations about what can be a scary or unspoken stage of life. Playing these games separately or together creates space to consider this in a unique and gentle way.

Find games about getting older:


Image of the cover of the hardback edition of the Taming Gaming book  by Andy Robertson Image 311 Thank you for using our resource, supported by AskAboutGames, ParentZone and PlayAbility Initiative. We are editorially independent, written by parents for parents, but welcome sponsorship, partnership and suggestions. Email our editor for details on these opportunities.

The information on this database is designed to support and complement the in-depth discussion and advice about video game "addiction", violence, spending and online safety in the Taming Gaming book. If you have any concerns or questions in these areas, email our editor who is quick to respond or can arrange for a one-to-one conversation.

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