Challenging Students’ perspectives with Game Design for Older Adults
Older adults are a group that is often overlooked by the game industry, even though they make up a reasonable portion of gamers. It is important for game designers to be able to consider different users and the needs involved. In this study, game design students were challenged with the task of making a video game for older adults that had some level of learning and social interaction. A total of sixty students, 13 older adults, an instructor, and the researchers were involved in the study. Seven games were created over two semesters. Older adults participated in the design by providing feedback. The students initially were disappointed with this assignment and resistant to the task, but as the project continued, they were able to embrace the challenge and see the benefits of designing for older adults. It challenged them to think from a different perspective and consider game design that is accessible to a wider audience. What they thought was intuitive (e.g. easy for the player to understand and use) did not always turn out to be so for the older cohort. This required the students adjust their design to suit a wider audience. User-centered design with a cohort different from their own was a beneficial approach to getting students to think of a broader audience.
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