Gen X and Digital Games: Looking back to look forward

Brown, Julie A. and Marston, Hannah R. (2018). Gen X and Digital Games: Looking back to look forward. In: Human Aspects of IT for the Aged Population. Applications in Health, Assistance, and Entertainment, Springer International Publishing, pp. 485–500.




Despite there being increased attention in recent years to older adults who actively play digital games, it seems that there has been comparatively minimal scholarly focus on the next generation of older adult gamers – Generation X gamers. Although there have been few, current audience studies that examine this population within a gaming context, a temporal perspective reveals another story. Older members of this generation were the first age cohort to be exposed to and engage in video gameplay at an early age (i.e., childhood). With the emerging popularity of video games in the 1980s, this did not escape the attention of scholars. This study provides an overview of those early studies that assessed video game use and its potential (for better or worse) among the older members Gen X. The study themes identified include: health, education, and behavior. In addition, the first studies that identified gaming characteristics of this generation in their formative years emerged in the latter half of that decade. By identifying themes in these early studies, scholars have the potential to track an entire generation’s gaming history and characteristics from childhood to present day. Ultimately, this may glean richer insight into those qualities when they become the next older generation of digital game players.

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