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The Elusive Silver Gamer: Representations and Practices of Older Video Game Players


The Elusive Silver Gamer: Representations and Practices of Older Video Game Players

Lavenir, Gabrielle (2022) The Elusive Silver Gamer: Representations and Practices of Older Video Game Players. PhD thesis, Concordia University.

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Over the past two decades, the increasing academic, institutional and media interest in older adults who play video games has popularized the figure of the “silver gamer” and its project of successful aging through digital play. This doctoral research examines what is at stake in older adults’ video game play. It stands at the intersection of the studies of aging, game studies, and studies of technology. The research accounts for the reciprocal relationship between discourses and practices as well as the agentivity of players within a constraining environment. It draws on fieldwork conducted in 2019-2020 in France: on one hand, biographical semi-directive interviews with sixteen older adults who play video games on their own; and, on the other hand, the ethnography of an association that organizes video game workshops in aged care institution, with non-participant observation in thirty of these workshops.
The dissertation begins with an examination of the conflicted relationship between old age, play, and digital technology that limits older adults’ ability to become video game players. It then investigates the “silver gamer” discourse, outlining its techno-enthusiastic anti-aging narrative and its difficult implementation as a result of older players’ indifference towards its promises. The figure of the “silver gamer” establishes a narrow scope for older adults’ play, associated with health and self-discipline rather than fun or skill. The dissertation proposes an analysis of older adults’ gaming careers and play practices.
The distinctive patterns in older adults’ video game play reflect the uneasy cultural and social condition of old age in contemporary societies. Older players tend to be particularly selfconscious,
isolated from other players, discreet, and stable in their choice of games. Their play articulates a complex moral economy around time, freedom, and productivity. Their video game play exhibits a sense of marginality and restriction, but also adaptability and
resistance, that is grounded in the experience of old age. The present research argues that the cultural representations, social norms, and material conditions associated with this stage of the
life course interacts with individuals’ experience of leisure, play, and technology. In sum, (old) age matters in (video game) play.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Sociology and Anthropology
Concordia University > Research Units > Centre for Technoculture, Art and Games
Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Authors:Lavenir, Gabrielle
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:Ph. D.
Date:21 July 2022
Thesis Supervisor(s):Simon, Bart
ID Code:991385
Deposited By: Marie-Gabrielle Lavenir
Deposited On:21 Jun 2023 14:36
Last Modified:21 Jul 2023 00:00
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