Video Games: More Than Just Fun for the Sisters of St. Mary of the Pines

Two years ago, 72-year-old Sister Marie Richard Eckerle, School Sisters of Notre Dame (SSND) bought a copy of Bookworm for a computer at St. Mary of the Pines, a community for retired SSND in Chatawa, Mississippi. She was a fan of the video game, and her enthusiasm soon spread among her community members. She recalls, "It quickly became popular with so many others that we knew we'd better get more copies!"

Now St. Mary of the Pines owns a dozen more copies of Bookworm and has expanded their collection to include other "casual" video games, such as Bejeweled and Chuzzle. The games have become a regular -- and important -- part of daily life at St. Mary of the Pines. Staff and residents use them not only for entertainment, but also as a means of encouraging socialization and mental stimulation.

The St. Mary of the Pines story is not so unusual. It mirrors the astonishingly broad movement of older consumers toward family-friendly, non- violent puzzle, word and action fare-so-called "casual" video games. According to the latest industry data, more than 50 million consumers age 50 and above now play these casual games on a regular basis. From the mental and even physical health benefits, to the sense of accomplishment and social interaction and bonding opportunities with both peers and children/grandchildren, older consumers have found a lot to like in casual games.

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