What is online gaming?
Online games are played over the internet, either entirely or partly. Usually, this involves some interaction with either friends or strangers. For example, you might compete for the highest score or play together to solve a problem.
Online gaming is a multibillion-pound industry, meaning there are seemingly endless games to choose from. If you’re a new gamer, you might not have a console handy. So, below you can find five games suited to over 50s gamers for mobile and PC.
1. Words With Friends2
For mobile and some tablets
With 53,000 ratings on Apple’s App Store alone, this game’s popularity speaks for itself. Words With Friends 2 is based on Scrabble. In the main game, you can invite a friend to play with you or ask the app to find you an opponent randomly. You each take turns laying down tiles to make words. The more points you score on each turn, the more likely you are to win.
The app also has other challenges, including a team lightning round where players lay down words across several boards at once. It's fast-paced and exciting, but each lightning game only lasts a few minutes.
As with any app, Words With Friends 2 isn't perfect. Those playing the free version will see frequent adverts and the app’s navigation isn't always straightforward. Also, avid Scrabble players should beware of slight changes in how many points each letter is worth. But, this one is definitely worth a look for anyone who enjoys word games.
Available on: PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Microsoft Windows (PC), iOS (iPhone, iPad, Mac)
More information: Journey website
Journey is a BAFTA award-winning game in several categories. Players and critics alike have commented on its stunning visuals and the beautiful soundtrack. In fact, Journey features the first song written specifically for a video game to receive a Grammy nomination.
In the game, players control a figure making a journey through a vast desert. Their ultimate destination is a mountain range in the distance which is reached by travelling through various levels. Players can roam, explore, jump, and even briefly fly. Interestingly, there are no words, only musical sounds.
You can play Journey online or offline. The jury is out as to which creates a better experience. But, fans of interactive games will find online gameplay a unique experience. Other players appear from time to time. You can communicate with them through little musical chirps, pointing, and other silent interactions.
Whether you play online or offline is up to you, and you could always start again in another mode if you change your mind. But, as one player on Reddit said:
“I played it online my first time as that is part of the experience. And I'm glad I did. Met some one else [sic] randomly and we played the rest of the game together! It was amazing! Communicating just by chirping and pointing out hidden things it was [an amazing] … journey and one of my best gaming moments.”
3. Guardian Puzzle App
For mobile and some tablets
Whether or not you’re a fan of the newspaper, The Guardian’s puzzle app is undeniably packed with fun crosswords and sudokus. The mobile app comes with a free trial, so there’s no initial commitment involved.
The app features twelve categories of crossword and sudoku puzzles, spanning several difficulty levels. This includes cryptic crosswords for experts and mini sudokus for quick gamers. At first glance, it might seem like a simple offline app. But, subscribers can take advantage of a two-player mode where are they can invite friends to play together.
4. Sky: Children of the Light
For mobile, some tablets, Nintendo Switch (2021)
Sky: Children of the Light is a more recent release from the developers behind Journey. The aim of the game is to locate fallen stars (which appear as spirits) and return them to the skies. The Sky world is full of mysteries. You can fly around, solve puzzles and explore seven unique landscapes with beautiful visuals. But, the underlying emphasis of the game is friendship.
Players are encouraged to interact with strangers and friends. You can grab hands and start exploring together with up to eight players. It's easier to fly with more of you! Unlike Journey, some versions of Sky let online players talk to each other. But, you have to make friends first, which avoids unwanted interactions.
The game’s creators say they aim to bring out “the best and brightest parts of humanity” by creating genuine, positive relationships.
How to start online gaming
Those who haven’t played video games before might be sceptical about online gaming. Is it a good use of time? Is it a real hobby? Will it be fun?
The video games industry is expected to be worth £147 billion by 2023. This means video game studios have large teams and massive budgets to create unforgettable experiences. In a way, online gaming is like immersing yourself in a great story, just as you would a book or film. Or, it can be like participating in a puzzle or board game. But, now you can interact, explore, make new friends, and carry the whole thing around in your pocket.
The best way to get started is to pick a game you like the look of. Then, do a little research, read a few reviews, and make sure that it’s available for your device. Finally, download and play! If you’re not sure which game to go for, why not start with an online version of your favourite board game?
We spoke to Ian from Gaming Debugged, who told Age Times about the broad range of online games that may appeal to over 50s. Ian said: "Over 50's that I know enjoy Forza complete with steering wheel, the Flight Simulator series and the historical education of the Assassin Creed series.
"Words with Friends or Crosswords are ok when on the move but over 50s have the disposable income to have a good gaming set-up and battle it out on Call of Duty. With over 50s being parents and grandparents, they might also play Minecraft to help connect with their children and grandchildren. Time-poor adults may prefer the drop-in and drop-out nature of Fortnite, Warzone or GTA5."
If you’re delving into the world of online video games, let us know how you get on via social media. We’d love to hear from you.