Xbox, Gaming, and Virtual Reality

"FORGING NEW CONNECTIONS: In the UK alone, more than 200,000 elderly people go a week without speaking to another person. Xbox: Beyond Generations is an initiative designed to help both the young and old connect through gaming"

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A well-told story of how social interaction platforms can help us stay connected and build relationships, when distance and isolation prevent us from doing so. If anyone thought #Xbox or #Playstation were just gaming platforms, think again. Social gaming allows you to develop not only connections but social interactions. At NICA, we strongly believe that emerging technologies can help people live better and longer. Used intelligently, virtual gaming can also help shatter ageing stereotypes (#ageingintelligence).

At NICA, we’re collaborating with Virtuleap to understand how virtual reality can not only entertain, but improve cognition and leverage useful information around cognitive assessment. Like everyone, older adults can feel isolated during the unfolding crisis, so it could be helpful to take regular cognitive assessments to understand potential changes. Virtuleap has drawn on research-backed science to create a set of brain-training games to improve the ageing population’s cognitive functions with the help of #VR and #AI. As Amir Bozorgzadeh suggests, “The iteration of research, industry collaboration and application of research in technology and clinical testing can help researchers and technologists bridge the gaps in how they think VR technology should be used in healthcare, in which areas, and for what purposes. Over time, the technology will become more refined, more accepted, and the effects more controlled”.

In our collaboration with Virtuleap, we involved our VOICE community of older adults to explore how they felt about brain training, particularly through virtual reality. The community were excited by the technology, describing it as “similar to what my grandson plays”. They saw the kit as a valuable tool to support and maintain a good quality of life: “anything which can improve my memory would be good, but this is even better as it looks like fun”.

This confirms three things:

1) We need to explore novel, more engaging techniques and technologies to deliver what we define as ‘healthy ageing’.

2) That we are still plagued by stereotypes about who these technologies are for (i.e. these are usually targeted to Millennials and GenZs).

3) There is an innovation journey happening out there, employing key emerging technology, which has to be included in the narrative of ageing as a systematic topic, not referred to sporadically as an exception to attract attention.