Seniors are almost always left out of discussions about gaming. At most, they’re mentioned as an afterthought, maybe with a brief reference to how popular the Nintendo Wii was with senior citizens.
And to be honest, if the Wii was still being supported by Nintendo and was receiving new titles, we might have even chosen it as the best game console for seniors.
After all, the Wii was accessible, had an interesting core gameplay hook, and towards the end of the console generation, it was easy to purchase, all of which made it a good option for elder care homes and the like.
But the Wii days are long gone, so now it’s time to set out to answer a very serious question: what is the best game console for seniors?
If you’ve read some of our other console recommendation articles for specific groups of people, then you probably won’t be surprised by our pick this time around, but to substantiate that choice, first we’re going to run through some of the key features and traits we kept in mind when assessing the various gaming consoles currently being manufactured and supported.
What Makes a Console ‘Good for Seniors’?
Ok, so what actually makes a console good for seniors? For one, it’s hard to find a console that works well for all seniors because this is a massive category that contains many different kinds of people with different abilities, personal histories with gaming, and preferences when it comes to what they might actually like to play.
Still, we narrowed our many considerations down to a few key areas, which you’ll find listed below.
This point should be fairly self-explanatory. A gaming console that’s going to be used by seniors needs to be accessible, and this applies to different aspects of the console.
For example, console accessibility can mean that it’s easy to set up and start using, not just the very first time around but every time the person wants to use it.
The console hardware should have a very simple setup process, and the basic functions of the system shouldn’t be difficult to find or manage.
For those of us who are younger (for now), it’s easy to take for granted how easily we’re able to navigate even complex software user interfaces and change settings to fit our needs and preferences.
Many seniors haven’t had nearly as much exposure to these software environments as we have, and on top of that, not every console features a user interface that makes its functions immediately noticeable.
Similarly, controllers should be simple to set up, use, and maintain over time.
Cost + Upkeep
We expect that cost is a major factor when choosing a video game console for a senior. In fact, when presenting a senior with the idea of purchasing a gaming console, they’re likely to be a little skeptical of the idea itself, let alone the asking price.
In other words, we weren’t looking for the highest-performance machine here. Some seniors might care quite a bit about frame rates and resolution, but if a person is new to gaming, their first thought probably won’t be about how smoothly the games run but instead how each game works and whether they enjoy it or not.
All current-gen consoles are certainly still expensive, especially for someone living on retirement or monthly support payments, but some are certainly less expensive than others.
Upkeep is another vital factor. We wanted our console of choice for seniors to be reasonably reliable and easy to keep running.
Lastly, the selection of games on each console is very important. We know that, these days, it’s really only AAA console-exclusive games that limit themselves to a single system, but the current libraries of each console definitely came into play during our selection process.
Our Pick: The Nintendo Switch
Yep, the Nintendo Switch is one again our category winner. We have declared the Switch the best console for young kids (specifically the Lite hardware revision) and the best console for non-gamers.
As far as we’re concerned, the Switch is definitely the most accessible and flexible gaming console currently being produced. The Switch’s hybrid nature alone makes it a much more suitable choice for players who may have limited mobility or simply don’t want to stare at a television screen all day.
The Switch is incredibly easy to set up, even for a beginner, and the UI is simple enough to navigate, though certain settings require quite a bit of menu diving to track down and change.
We do think the Switch console itself is fairly reliable on its own, though in the reliability and upkeep category, Joy-Con drift definitely needs to be considered as well.
We’re pretty upset about the whole Nintendo/Joy-Con situation, and the company’s reputation has definitely taken a hit in our eyes as a result, but as long as the purchasing senior knows that the Joy-Cons can be sent in and repaired for free (at least in North America, grumble grumble), then hopefully this won’t cause too many problems. Also, it generally takes about a year’s worth of solid play to really get drift to be a problem in the first place.
In terms of game selection available on the Nintendo Switch, there’s a great deal of variety. And even going back to the Wii’s popularity, Nintendo’s console is the only major console to still offer plenty of options for playing games via either motion controls (gyro aim, for example) or gesture controls (swinging a controller around to perform an action), so if the senior in question wants some more of that action, they can find it on the Switch.
Another major advantage of the Switch’s library of available games is the sheer number of legacy titles, i.e. games originally released on older systems.
That means that so many great games are on the table which, otherwise, might only be available on PC, which isn’t a console and so isn’t a part of this discussion.
We also think there’s a strong possibility that many seniors will enjoy some of the indie games that have been released over the last ten years or so. Games with very simple feedback loops can be a great choice for new players.
Overall, the Switch is definitely the best console for senior gamers, in our opinion. But if you’re thinking of purchasing a console for an older person in your life, we recommend talking with them about the idea first to get a sense of their interest level.
But until next time, thanks for joining us and feel free to look around the site at some of our many other articles and lists.