RPG Evolution: When Gamers Retire

Adults gamers are always pining for more time to play. What happens when they retire?


Picture courtesy of Pixabay.

Retirement Is Coming​

We've discussed previously how difficult it is for tabletop game designers to retire. But for the bulk of gamers who play as a hobby, retirement is a new stage of life that changes gaming opportunities.

The 76 million boomer generation in the U.S. have already retired of course, so they're finding out just what it means to be retired gamers. But the next generation of Gen X (my generation) is right behind them at 55 million in the U.S. alone, entering their 50s now with retirement looming large. The Millennials (62 million strong in the U.S.) are an even larger cohort. More important, people are living longer, with adults in their 60s having a roughly 50 percent chance of reaching 90. For many, they have around 20 years before their minds enter decline.

All this adds up to more retirees and more potential gamers.

What You Do in Retirement​

Being able to retire at all is a privilege. Not everyone can afford to do it, and the social safety nets in many countries have withered over time. But for those that can, retirement is a new phase in life, as lifestyles shift from working to what happens after the workforce.

Unfortunately, there are few guideposts as what retirees are supposed to do with their free time (besides keep working). Many turn to community efforts, giving back in some way. Still others pursue their hobbies -- the image of retirees golfing exists for good reason. So what do gamers do when they retire?

Game of course. Or they would, assuming they still want to.

Do You Want to Play a Game?​

Retirement often comes with adult children and grandchildren who put demands on the retirees time. And giving back to the community is a powerful pull, finding meaning in sharing experience with others. For those who can afford it, many seniors travel too.

But with the potential for a very large senior gamer cohort, the possibility of large groups of gamers finding each other over the Internet and playing more often is a real possibility. One of the players in my group is about to retire, and we're looking forward to her being able to play into the evening without worrying about going to work the next day.

We know that tabletop gaming is good for you: it establishes lifelong friendships through share experience, it helps players work through their emotions and frustrations, and--critically for retirees--it stimulates the mind. Many retirees try to keep busy to keep their minds sharp, and gaming requires full use of mental faculties.

Will we play RPGs after we retire with our newfound free time? If DndGrandma is any indication, most of us certainly will be.

Your Turn: Do you play with retirees? Do you plan to game when you are one?
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Michael Tresca

Michael Tresca


Community Supporter
Interesting article and it ties gaming in with the much wider issues of ageing populations, social policy changes and many other issues.
Speaking personally, I was lucky enough to be in a position to retire a couple of years ago at 58 and I’ve enjoyed it a lot. I’ve never played golf and playing good standard rugby is in the past sadly, but I’ve coached rugby to kids, worked in a food bank ( and how awful is it that these are necessary; there’s enough money to feed need, but not enough to feed greed!) and I’m actually working part time on a vineyard, just because it’s so totally different from anything I’ve ever done.
But regards gaming: the extra time has been a huge bonus. I have more time to prep for my monthly face to face group, where I DM, and I’m also part of two fantastic online games, run by @TheSword and @Steampunkette respectively.
And I get to spend more time with my wife and my grandkids.
And I’ve just got involved in coaching a local American Football team ( this is UK, so nothing like US level of excellence, but fun).

Overall though, the wonder of the gaming is that it’s stayed with me, as a big part of my life, since I first played a white box game when I was 14, and is still a massive part of my life still as a retiree. I sometimes muse that I was 14 when I rolled up Aelric the fighter, and I guess I saw him as around 22 in my imagination; he’d be 68 now......if he hadn’t been killed in an orc ambush when he was level3!
You are an inspiration sir!

On the one hand, I think retired gamers who have resources can really open up their hobby to see their friends and play more often.

On the other, if you have challenges already (no friends nearby, or don't want to game with randos), I don't see retirement magically solving the problem.

It really does seem like a business opportunity, not just in finding a place to play but in connecting older games together so they can hang out!

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I’m wanting to retire early or around 58 so I can play more D&D, golf, cars etc….only thing I don’t think I’ll do is play goalie in a hockey league…tried that when I was 42 and was great for 9 games out of a 10 game season…the game 10 :) I hope my friends and I that I’ve played dnd with for 30 years have the same thought to hang out and game more.
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Eyes of Nine

Everything's Fine
I just don't get why climate activism isn't a big deal for retirees. Things have really and obviously changed since I was a kid and makes me wonder where the "Captain Planet" generation went.
Not among the retirees I know. Exhibit a) my dad. 85 and still goes to protests on the corner every Friday night to protest nuclear power and to protest on behalf of peace. Exhibit b) I am peripherally associated with a group at my church called "Earth Advocates". A group of mostly retired folks who are all passionate about mitigating, and hopefully someday reversing anthropogenic climate change. Those folks know they don't have a lot of time left and are SUPER motivated. I join them at a table once a month and they have given me great tips about induction stoves; re-useable zip-loc bag replacements; and bamboo toothbrushes. Good people

And tbh, Captain Planet, like the MMPower Rangers was big when Millenials were kids (Power Rangers still big), who have years to go before they retire

I know RPGs will be quite active with older and retired people. It's the sort of hobby that gets into your blood.

You can find lots of older folks playing card games and board games. Even as a kid we would often go to the senior center to play Chess, Risk, or Poker(yes, kids playing poker...it was the 80's).

And games in general keep the mind active. Even just as adults the average "more serious" gamer has a lot better mental health then an "average" adult. Using your immigination to defeat a lich lord or crew a starship on the edge of the galaxy is just better for a mind then watching 6-8 hours of reality shows a day.

Maybe we will have 6K Holographic Interactive Virtual Tables....but RPGs Forever!

Von Ether

Just about the worst thing you can do when you retire is nothing. As in, put your feet up. That's part of why the people who got a retirement keep going into work. Being retired and being unemployed have similar harmful effects on physical and mental health.

LOL won't be a problem for me. I've made my peace with the fact that retirement won't be an option for me. "Social safety nets" lol.

I just don't get why climate activism isn't a big deal for retirees. Things have really and obviously changed since I was a kid and makes me wonder where the "Captain Planet" generation went.
In South Florida, one of the common jokes is how people messed up the places they worked and lived then retire here to defend an environment that constantly tearing down the infrastructure. It's hyperbolic comment of course.

OTH, my parents opted to stay in the Midwest and they do the usual foodbank and school supply drives.

I guess retiree activism is much like gaming, a very local meta.

I don't have any plans on retiring, but as long as my gaming friends are willing (we've already inducted our collective adult children), there's no reason not to game.

This is my last year. I'm pulling the plug. Retirement is just around the corner. Increasing game time is just around the corner. The only hitch is moving. My wife wants to move to the DC area (probably Northern Virginia) from central California to be closer to my daughter. Just need to find a new group and a good hobby shop and I'm set.

I'm looking forward to having more time for gaming and everything else. I'm a teacher, working an overload, and if I'm not working a 60-hour week during the school year, that's because it's 70 :D Game time comes with summer and drains away in the fall as classes get going. Steady time to game, even if I teach a class or two adjunct, sounds. great.

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