Sunday, January 16, 2011

Seniors & Gaming – We’re not playing Solitaire!

This Christmas Santa delivered a Nintendo Dsi hand held gaming system to my 10 year old daughter.  Apparently, this was something he had an over stock on because the kids next door, and her other friends all received one as well!  The Nintendo DS is a very popular gaming system.  After my daughter wore the battery out I was finally allowed to play with it and I discovered I really like it! 

When I arrived at the Wickham Park Senior Center to teach our Simply Seniors Computer Tutors class last Friday I noticed a flyer asking for anyone with a Nintendo Ds to meet and play Brain Age together.  That lead me to thinking “Did Santa deliver these to the older big kids on his list as well?  It seems that he did!

I have also noticed since the Nintendo Wii gaming system came out a real increase in the senior populations use of gaming systems.  This is a good thing. With games for the Wii like Tiger Woods golf, you can get a game in (physically-less driving the cart) when it’s 20 degrees outside!  The Wii and now the new Kinects gaming system it is even easier for seniors to play sports games in the comfort and safety of their own living room.

I have done a little research to see what others are thinking about seniors using these new gaming systems and here is what I have found.  From a web site named: this is an article discussing seniors and their connection with the Microsoft Kinects gaming system:


Who would have thought that growth opportunities in the game console industry would be in the 50+ market?  Well, this Christmas the console wars are heating up for the senior demographic and it’s not for the faint of heart.  Last month Microsoft last month released its Kinect system for motion gaming and has its sights set clearly on the senior demographic as part of its overall marketing and advertising strategy. Microsoft’s Kinect visual recognition technology allows the player to stand six feet in front the of the television to play games.  Rather than using a controller to monitor motion, the Kinect system tracks individual user movements play the games and responds to voice commands.  The Kinect system is an add-on for the Xbox gaming system and retails for $150 and comes bundled for $399.  Microsoft’s games for Kinect are designed to promote community gaming and fitness programs similar to the popular Wii Sports that has caught the attention of the senior living industry.  Many families are looking at the Wii System and Microsoft’s Xbox/Kinect as a gift ideas that are entertaining, promoting activity and group interaction this Christmas.  While 2.5 million Kinects have been sold since its release in early November, its numbers fall short in comparison to the Wii consoles out in the market.

Will Kinect knock-out Wii?  Probably not right away but Microsoft historically continues to chase and catch the competition.  At least the Kinect will solve the issue of a flying controller breaking the television screen…let’s hope seniors don’t propel themselves into the television.

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Next I found an article dating back to 2006, guess I am a little late with the DS craze, talking about seniors and the Brain Age game.  You can read the whole article at Here are the highlights:


I opened up this little unit with trepidation, prepared to give it a fair try and put it away forever. Another flashing, squealing thing that had no appeal. I was wrong.

DS Lite is light-weight, comfortable in my hand. I can see every image and follow fast action with no problem, even at low light. The resolution is spectacular, graphics most satisfying (We’re boomers, not teenagers – the teens can form their own conclusions).

The game cartridges range from $12 to around $50 - seems reasonable. Nintendo is pushing the series created to help us exercise and improve our brains as we age. OK. So they gave me Brainage, the first in a series aimed at us.

The hype claims Brainage, created by a doctor, will re-train the brain to be more cognitive and responsive and all that. I can’t say, but experts are learning that stimulating your brain regularly makes a big difference in how well it functions.

What We Found

I passed the game to a group of friends and family – age range 7 months to 58 years. Male and female. All education levels and diversified career tracks. Some had prior game addictions, some didn’t.

They fought over the thing.

Brainage is more an activity pack than a game. One component calculates your brain’s age through three randomly selected skill tests. One component exercises the brain with a selection of puzzles. There’s a memory activity that shows you dozens of words for two minutes, then asks you to write ones you recall. There’s one that has you do simple calculations as quickly as you can. One requires you to follow time changes on a clock and say how many hours elapsed. The package also has Sudoku puzzles at various levels.

We found the voice recognition to be greatly lacking and somewhat frustrating. It has real trouble being consistent and is harshly affected by background sound. When user needs to write information into the software with the stylus, Brainage has a terrible time interpreting more than a few letters. Perhaps patiently working through these frustrations will help improve the brain, who knows, but Nintendo could take a second look at those factors.

The puzzles are all engaging – challenging to one extent or another. The system, WI FI enabled, can communicate with other players, so maybe you'll start a group or something - maybe challenge your family long-distance? Deal is, you’re supposed to do them once a day – the process takes as little as 10 minutes or as long as you want. You’ll have to set your own boundaries.

Bottom Line

Nintendo DS Lite is appealing for our age group. Its stylish looks (in several colors) remind me of a Palm Pilot or something – very sleek and unobtrusive. Can slip into purse or carry-on bag. Truly, Nintendo thought through design and visual parameters so seniors can enjoy using the system with or without grandkids. They need to rethink the stylus gadget, a slim stick less than half the diameter of a standard pencil.

The stylus is essential for play and, with mild arthritis or any motion problems at all, you’ll find it limiting. It causes me to have some aching or twinges after half an hour or so. Maybe that’s a good thing – if your hand tires, you can’t spend half your day trying to reduce your brain age just a little more. I’m down to 28 years old. My first brain age was a scarey 80!

Senior family members enjoyed others of the games, too. Being a puzzle fan from way back, I am very drawn to the brain teaser series they’re aiming our way. I’ll leave you with this comment – if you like puzzles, if your doc has mentioned you need to do something active with your mind, if you are a current or ex-gaming fan, this device is reasonably priced enough so you can give it a shot. If you don’t become a fan, you can always keep it on hand to entice grandkids to visit more often.

And yes, Tetris is available for this system....

Read more at Suite101: Nintendo for Baby Boomers-DS Lite: A Review - Train your brain to be healthier and more active?


I am a huge fan of Tetris and really happy to be able to play my 1998 Game Boy game cartridges on my Nintendo DS Lite. But for me the screen is a little small and if you feel the same way there is now a Nintendo DS XL and yes the XL stands for extra large.  I really think Nintendo saw the growing older population using their gaming unit and decided to make it a little more adult.  Compare the two:

image In this photo the XL is on the left and the DS is on the right.  In addition to offering a larger screen I understand that the XL comes with certain games like Brain Age pre installed on the system.  Additionally, this unit comes with a larger stylus, one that is the size of a common pen.

Read on to find out how the two compare spec wise:  This information comes to use from www.tiny

Full Nintendo DSi XL vs DSi comparison, new colors, and larger stylus. Facing lower than expected profits for the past six-month period, Nintendo formally announced an updated DSi model with 4.2 inch screens, releasing in Japan on November 21st and in the U.S. and Europe some time in the first quarter of 2010. Across the Pacific, where it’s referred to as the DSi LL, the handheld will sell for ¥20,000 ($220).

The new system’s launch colors include Dark Brown, Wine Red, and Natural White. Each new handheld in Japan will include several pre-installed applications like the DSi Browser, Flipnote Studio, A Bit of Brain Training: Arts, A Bit of Brain Training: Science, and Kiyou Akira Rakuhiku Language Easier.

As its name implies, the XL/LL represents a significant size increase from previous designs. Let’s compare!

Screen size:

  • DSi XL/LL - 4.2”
  • DSi - 3.25”
  • DS Lite - 3.0”

Body (width x length x thickness):

  • DSi XL/LL - 161.0 × 91.4 × 21.2mm
  • DSi - 137.0 × 74.9 × 18.9mm
  • DS Lite - 133.0 × 73.9 × 21.5mm

Stylus length:

  • DSi XL/LL - 129.3mm (also comes with smaller stylus)
  • DSi - 92mm
  • DS Lite - 87.5mm


  • DSi XL/LL - 314g
  • DSi - 214g
  • DS Lite - 218g

Battery life (minimum brightness):

  • DSi XL/LL - 13 to 17 hours
  • DSi - 9 to 14 hours
  • DS Lite - 15 to 19 hours

Battery charge time:

  • DSi XL/LL - 3 hours
  • DSi - 2.5 hours
  • DS Lite - 3 hours



Simply Seniors Computer Tutor would like to let you know that we can help with your questions about hand held gaming units and home gaming consoles. Asking your friends what they think of their units is also a good way to find out if it is the right one for you. 

Happy Gaming!

For more information on Simply Seniors Computer Tutor check out www.ComputerTutorHelp.Us

Thanks for reading and please pass this to a friend!

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