Some of Japan’s video game companies have started to target the country’s elderly people, as Japan has one of the fastest-aging populations in the world’s most developed countries.
A Japanese nursing home is run by an offshoot of globally famous video game outfit Namco Bandai, makers of 1980s arcade phenomenon Pac-Man. In the nursing home, physical arcade games are a usual part of the daily entertainment, with sexagenarian ladies walloping plastic alligators that appear from little holes or wielding foam hammers to crush frogs as they pop up.
“The ladies here are very agile, so it is almost impossible for me to beat them,” Sakamoto, 88, says as he catches his breath and watches the women gamely outscore him in this particular game.
“We offer entertainment so that elderly people spend the whole day playing, having fun, and getting really exhausted before returning to their home,” said Yoshiaki Kawamura, President of Kaikaya Ltd., the wholly-owned unit of Namco Bandai Holdings.
The games are designed to help elderly people exercise more and thus improve their health state, according to the local press.
“The scarcity of people who can provide rehab training to elderly people in smaller cities and the cost of it are challenges for ageing Japan,” says Keizo Sato, a physical therapist who lectures at Tohoku Fukushi University. He also believes that the “exergames” can help in reducing the rising medical costs of Japan.