Citrus Park, Fla. – "I am apparently a slow learner," says Betty Jo Holland, 81, as she takes aim to shoot a Japanese soldier.
"I got one," she adds moments later, with a sense of accomplishment, to a cheering crowd of people around her.
Holland and her friends are a group of old timers unlike any other. They are the videogame aficionados of Weinberg Village, a retirement home in Citrus Park, Fla. Here, videogames are helping the elderly in different ways.
Holland and her friends shout, cheer and elbow each other for hours as they play and celebrate their triumphs in Medal of Honor, their favorite videogame.
Their success, however, is not limited only to waging wars and winning battles in the virtual world. By playing the game, they are building community and improving their health.
"[The game] brings seniors out of their rooms and gets them involved in physical activities," said Dan Sultan of Weinberg Village, where gaming has almost become an obsession.
So many of these senior citizens are playing for long stretches of time that the administration is starting a sign-up sheet to allow more people to play.
The shooting, bombing and escaping the enemy in the virtual world brings fun and excitement to the otherwise slow, sleepy days of these seniors.
And not only that, they can also improve memory and retention by playing videogames a few hours a day.
According to a study conducted at the University of Florida, the elderly can, regardless of age, improve their mental skills and hand-eye coordination by playing videogames.
“There are some characteristics of the game that promote visual learning,” said Patricia Belchior, a researcher at the University of Florida.
Walter ‘Fast Fingers’ Hill, 70, a participant in the study, described his experience of playing videogames, “I keep getting wiped out but it does challenge me to figure out how to get around it.”
“It involves the eyes, the brain the hands; you get your body language in it too,” Hill explained.
“And it’s more multi dimensional than reading a book,” he said, fingering the controls, his eyes fixed at the screen.
Meanwhile, the ladies of Weinberg Village are asking for more videogames. Wii car games. And golf games.
They are ready to prove that acing the Age of Empires and winning the Medal of Honor is no longer the domain of the young.
“They need to have some of the talent out there developing some of the games that would appeal to older people,” Hill demanded.