So what’s the best gaming system for older adults? Whether you’re researching for yourself or for a relative, we’d like to help you find the right system for the situation.
We’re going to walk you through some of the options and explain our choice in detail.
Ready to get started? Oh, you’ve already scrolled down, haven’t you? It’s cool, we get it.
Console vs. PC
If any hardened gamers are reading this, they’re probably screaming that PC is the best possible gaming platform for basically everyone.
And it’s true that PC offers a level of customization and game availability that no console can rival.
However, PCs themselves vary wildly, and compatibility is never quite guaranteed, and building a custom PC capable of running modern games at the highest quality settings will cost thousands of dollars.
Consoles, on the other hand, boast an impressive level of convenience. They are incredibly easy to set up, they include a controller that works with everything on the platform, and compatibility is guaranteed, barring major mistakes on the part of game development teams.
For older adults looking to get into gaming, or back into gaming after a number of years, we assume that convenience is important. Feel free to disagree, but we’re going to focus on consoles here.
How important is portability?
After looking at all of the current-gen video game systems, we boiled everything down to two main options: the Nintendo Switch and the Xbox Series S.
Spoilers: the Series S won the day, but we also want to leave some room for the Switch, especially considering that, for some, portability is more important than just about everything else when looking for a game system.
The Nintendo Switch’s whole gimmick is that it can display games on your TV like any other gaming console but also display games on a built-in screen that you can take with you just about anywhere.
(Note: The Switch Lite, a console version first released a couple years ago, can only play games on its built-in screen, hence the lower price point. Please keep this in mind when shopping around.)
Some people rarely feel the urge to sit down in front of their TV to play a video game. For some, this is the go-to option, and they’ll do it often, but for others, myself included, having a handheld option encourages me to play games much more often, especially since you can have a movie or show playing on the TV at the same time.
For those who don’t have a lot of free time or don’t spend much time at home, having a portable gaming option can be extremely valuable.
So while we didn’t end up choosing the Switch as the best gaming system for older adults, we do think it’s a great choice for many, though it does have its own set of drawbacks as well.
But that brings us to our pick, the Xbox Series S.
Our Pick: Xbox Series S
The Xox Series S is one of Microsoft’s two current-gen console gaming systems. The Series X is the more expensive option with superior hardware, but the Series S definitely feels like a better fit for many older adults, and we’ll explain why right now.
Ease of Use
The Xbox Series S was designed to be inviting and non-threatening. In fact, that’s why it has a white color scheme, following the tech design convention of using white to look easy and accessible, while black is used to make something look “pro.”
It’s the less expensive Xbox currently being made, which we’ll get to in a bit, and the experience of setting up the console is simple and straightforward, especially if you already have an active Microsoft account, which will be used to set up your console.
The Series S has a power cable, and HDMI cable, and that’s it for cords. Just plug those in and you can get going.
The user interface of the system isn’t the best we’ve ever seen, but you can customize your home screen, which will make it easier to find the games and apps you want to access the most often.
The console also offers a number of accessibility options, which is always good news.
One of the only big drawbacks in this area is that the included controller runs on AA batteries instead of a rechargeable battery pack, so consider buying a battery pack for the system if you don’t want to go through another pair of batteries every week or so.
You’ve probably heard about the supply chain issues that have been plaguing the planet for a while now, and in particular, silicon shortages have pretty drastically limited the production of many tech devices.
These shortages, combined with a staggering amount of bot-driven scalping, have made the most sought-after video game systems, well, even more sought-after than before.
The highest-end consoles on the market, the PlayStation 5 and the Xbox Series X, are hard to find at retail price, period.
At the time of writing, these consoles are still being resold online for $200-400 higher than list price, bringing the total into the range of $800+, which is just way too much for people who want to play games casually.
Meanwhile, the lower-power Xbox Series S can frequently be found for sale for its original list price of $300.
No, it can’t produce graphics as impressive as the Series X or PS5, and it can’t use physical game discs either, but you could probably buy one today if you really wanted to, and for the price of a budget laptop.
Of course we can’t wrap up without talking about the games that you’ll be able to play on an Xbox Series S.
The Xbox platform has thousands of games available, including some of the most popular AAA games currently on the market.
These games range in price from around $10 to full-price $60 titles. The platform has sales pretty regularly, so you can wishlist a game and wait until it’s on sale to pull the trigger.
But it’s impossible to talk about Xbox without discussing Game Pass.
Game Pass is a subscription service offered by Microsoft. There’s a version for PC, and a version for Xbox consoles.
The subscription price is currently $10 a month, or $15 if you want to include some add-ons like online play.
The games offered via Game Pass rotate, just like streaming movies on a site like Netflix, but generally, there are more than 300 games available as part of this service.
The only limitation on how many of these you can download at a time is your system’s storage. (Oh yeah, you can expand the Series S’s storage via a few different options, but the internal storage is going to be your only option for playing cutting-edge games.)
Some games stay on Game Pass for quite a long time, and others leave relatively quickly, but for an older adult looking to try out some games, a service like this is an excellent choice. You can try out literally hundreds of games without having to buy each of them individually.
We’re not saying that subscription-based gaming is the best option for everyone, or even that Game Pass will stay this good forever, but it’s really hard to ignore right now. It’s just a great value if you’re actually going to be playing some games on even a semi-regular basis.