The World Health Organization (WHO) reported that seniors (persons who are 60 years old and older) are one of the fastest-growing populations in the world. Accordingly, maintaining their quality of life has become an exponentially important issue, and digital technologies can help. A large number of older adults have embraced digital technologies. Many others would be open to digital technologies provided that they would see the benefits and become motivated to use these new tools. Older adults can benefit from new technologies in various ways and digital games provide one such way. Older adults represent a growing demographic of gamers. Research has shown that digital games have physical, cognitive, emotional, and social benefits for seniors. They also offer opportunities for lifelong learning and improving digital skills. Nevertheless, older adults are underrepresented as digital game players, and hence, digital games that are designed for them are still rare. Due to age-related changes and different preferences, digital games targeted at older adults have particular design requirements to address their needs and preferences. A user-centred design (UCD) process is an approach that includes older adults in the design process to make sure the game is usable and enjoyable for them. In this project, an online escape game was designed, developed, and evaluated using a UCD process. The game is based on real-life escape rooms that are collaborative adventure games in which a team of players is locked in a room. They need to discover clues and solve puzzles to attain the final goal; i.e., escape the room, usually within a time limit. We performed a needs assessment in real-life escape rooms, created a game concept based on the assessment, designed the game with older adults, and tested two prototypes iteratively with older adults. The findings suggest that the game was usable and enjoyable for older adults. However, it still needs several refinements and further usability and field testing before a larger audience of players can use it.
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Thesis advisor: Kaufman, David
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