I was visiting a senior citizen today who rarely leaves her house due to lack of mobility. Like many her age, she is not connected to the net, nor interested in it. Which makes the following idea a challenge.
Could we design a really engaging game/online community for seniors? Especially those who have had to give up much of their old community because of infirmity? They don’t want to slay monsters like in Evercrack or Warcraft. They won’t build objects like in Second Life.
It must be a killer app — so compelling that they are willing to learn a bit about computers in order to get it. For some seniors, they killer app has been emails and photos from grandchildren.
The game would have to be aimed at the fantasies that seniors have, and it must also be deliberately aimed at the computer novice with less desire to learn new technology than average. (Not that there aren’t seniors with full ability to learn new tech — many of them are already online.)
Thus it would not necessarily require the hottest new graphics cards or fastest net connection. It might try to avoid typing or require fast reaction times. It might use audio for socializing, and focus on the topics most dear to these players. (I jokingly wonder if avatars should be surrounded by pictures of grandkids.) Obviously research is needed to see what they want to play about, and how to deliver it.
There are also questions of levels of ability. Some people become mentally infirm with age and their skills and desires are limited. But is there nothing in the way of interactive community entertainment we can offer them?