Over the past month or so, a story about an unlikely hardcore gamer -- a 69-year-old grandmother named Barbara St. Hilaire -- has hit many news outlets and generated a fascination with a person who seems to embody a contradiction. But even though this grandma seems like a novelty, her story suggests that the video game culture is more pervasive than most of us might think.
With St. Hilaire, it's not just about solitaire -- although some of the most unlikely candidates might not even realize that they are technically gamers because of that computer game. St. Hilaire plays her games on Microsoft's
St. Hilaire, whose story gained widespread distribution after one of her grandsons set up a blog dedicated to his hardcore gamer grandma, has reached pop-culture status. According to the many news stories about this senior and her interesting hobby, she's actually been playing games since the 1970s. (I'd feel pretty certain that she remembers the granddaddy of all video games, Pong.) Not surprisingly, the members of St. Hilaire's household are gamers one and all.
Is this the family of the future?
When I examined the video game industry in a commentary back in September, I couldn't help fixating on the fact that gamers are a much different group of people than most believe. Despite the stereotype of the teenage boy who's addicted to games, the demographics are diverse and unexpected. According to the Entertainment Software Association, in 2004, 19% of gamers were older than 50, and 43% of all gamers were female. Some of the articles also pointed out that senior citizens are a great demographic for games, since some games help older folks maintain good eye-hand coordination and provide better mental stimulation than watching TV, for example.
David Gardner picked up on the video game trend early for Motley Fool Stock Advisor; not only is GameStop a Stock Advisor recommendation, but so is a top dog in the video game publishing industry, Electronic Arts
Recent questions about short-term issues, however, have plagued video game-related companies. Fool contributor Steven Mallas recently took a look at some of these concerns. But it seems to me that the long term still looks bright, and media interest in St. Hilaire -- and her family, which includes several generations of emphatic gamers -- reinforces that belief. Maybe, as video game consoles become important components of almost every household's family room in the future, we'll have a new spin on an old theme: The family that plays together, stays together.
GameStop and Electronic Arts are Motley Fool Stock Advisor picks and are just two of several Stock Advisorrecommendations that deal with the burgeoning video game industry. Microsoft is aMotley Fool Inside Valueselection.
Fools, now is the time to open your hearts and wallets to worthy causes! Please support our five Foolish charities at www.foolanthropy.com.
Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned.