Will Boomers Go Pokemon?

He hasn’t walked over a cliff or discovered any dead bodies, but Paul, a Pokémon Go aficionado, has ignored important phone calls, struck up conversations with complete strangers, and even tried driving while playing. (He doesn’t recommend that last one, calling it “perilous.”)

But Paul isn’t your typical millennial user of the blockbuster augmented reality gaming app, which has already been downloaded to smartphones over 30 million times. He’s a 56-year-old Boomer professional who admits to playing at least an hour a day (maybe two). Despite taking a few risks, like driving while on the search for Tentocool, Paul has reaped some unexpected benefits from playing Pokémon Go.

He’s gotten much more exercise than usual. “Lots and lots of walking,” Paul said. “The game pretty much demands it.” 

He’s improved his social life. “I hang out with a couple of people I normally wouldn't just because of Pokémon,” he said (an Mfour study found that 52% of players have made new friends as a result of Pokémon Go.) 



He’s rediscovered the great outdoors. Ordinarily a coach potato, Paul has gotten out, walking in the park with his nature-loving wife in pursuit of Pokémon characters. 

Is this Boomer’s participation part of a larger trend? So far, Paul — who describes himself as an early tech adopter — hasn’t spotted a lot of other Boomers on the Pokémon trail. ”Most players I've met are between 18 and 25,” he said. The Mfour study bears that out, finding that 83% of players are ages 18 - 34, and 14% are 35 and older.

However, Paul thinks that with the right overlay, more Boomers might easily adopt a game like Pokémon Go. 

“A lot of people my age or slightly older get really excited about birding, which is essentially the same thing,” he said. “And I know people who set goals in their Fitbits to trigger animated rewards.”

That’s good news for Boomers, who could reap benefits they need to live longer, healthier lives, which are discussed in this NextAvenuearticle. It’s also good news for marketers seeking to reach this desirable demographic. Just a few possible areas for growth in the augmented reality space:

Games that evoke nostalgia in Boomers, based on early video games, classic TV cartoons and vintage comic books

Games designed to be played in locations where Boomers often spend time, such as golf courses, lakes, hiking trails and cruises 

How-to tutorials that walk Boomer DIYers through home improvement projects 

Apps that lets boomers remotely guide their parents through tasks such as using cell phones or tablets

The opportunities are endless. Who would have thought that the much-maligned video game could morph into something so healthy for Boomers — and marketers?

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