Adventure games for the elderly.
November 6, 2012 9:15 PM   Subscribe

Need recommendations on adventure games for elderly people.

To be more specific, an elderly woman in her 80s who is almost deaf and suffers from hearing impairment. Because of that, a simple interface that is easy to read and understand is an absolute necessity. Less important, but preferable, would be a distinct lack of vulgarity and violence. Her favorite genre is mystery, such as Monk and Murder She Wrote (both the shows and the books), but I'm not picky about that as long as the other requirements are met. Windows platform, but I'm thinking about buying her a Kindle Fire.

On a side note, I'm a bit surprised that no video game developer seems to be interested in developing games specifically for the elderly, especially since those games could still be played by younger people.

posted by Beholder to Computers & Internet (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Have you looked at BigFish, especially the hidden object games?
posted by tau_ceti at 9:48 PM on November 6, 2012

How about the old LucasFilm games such as Secret of Monkey Island?
posted by elmay at 9:56 PM on November 6, 2012 [2 favorites]

You should be looking at Hidden Picture or Hidden Object games.

There's tons, of all kinds of varieties, and a whole bunch have mystery themes. I enjoyed my trial of Agatha Christie's Death on the Nile adaptation, as well as some other Big Fish games (it's been a while, but they were all pretty good).

JayIsGames's recommendations/reviews should help you sift through the options.
posted by subject_verb_remainder at 9:57 PM on November 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

Mystery Case File series from Big Fish totally fit the bill here. The Ravenhurst series got good reviews, and you can often trial before you buy. They tend to be very lightweight as far as system requirements go too.

There is a huge mass of that sort of mystery game out there, typically marketed at casual gamers. The big games press is obsessed with FPS so they rarely get much coverage. But the casual demographic is the biggest growing market so expect more of them.
posted by Jilder at 11:21 PM on November 6, 2012

Response by poster: The Lucas Film adventure games have strong potential, but I'm concerned with their level of difficulty. Do any of them have a difficulty switch by any chance? The hidden object games concern me for another reason. While dementia is not an issue at all, any game that emphasizes memory might not be a good game to start with.

I realize that I'm not making this easy, and I do appreciate the suggestions.
posted by Beholder at 11:22 PM on November 6, 2012

The Myst series, I would think.

Ghost Trick and the Phoenix Wright games would seem to fit the bill. She might find them childish though. A lot of other Japanese visual novels (like 9 Hours, 9 Persons, 9 Doors) have winding plots, good mysteries, and fairly easy puzzles, but the writing of the dialogue is almost universally atrocious.

I haven't played the Sherlock Holmes games that Frogwares puts out, but I think they sound appropriate. A new one just came out and is well-reviewed. I also haven't played L.A. Noire, but I think there is an option to skip the scenes where you have to drive around and shoot guys and stuff, and you can just focus on interrogation. Someone else will have to speak to that.

The Walking Dead games that Telltale is putting out are some of the most emotionally artistic games ever. The interface mostly consists of picking dialogue options, but there is the occasional action scene or shooting scene; that might scupper the whole thing. The games contain gore, of course, but the focus is on the human interactions, so maybe she could get past the violence.

Puzzle Agent and Professor Layton are probably too puzzle-oriented, but might be worth mentioning.

As far as the LucasArts games go, I think I remember The Dig being fairly easy. And it is impossible not to adore Grim Fandango. If she's willing to put up with the type of puzzles you would find in old school adventure games (by using a walkthrough), The Riddle of Master Lu and Gabriel Knight 1 rock a good mystery vibe. And maybe The Last Express? It's been a long time since I played it.

Finally, if graphics aren't important, you might take a look at 1893: A World Fair's Mystery, or the Choice Of... games.
posted by painquale at 1:04 AM on November 7, 2012

Oh wait, Myst has puzzles that are dependent on hearing sounds. That's problematic.
posted by painquale at 1:05 AM on November 7, 2012

Hidden object games don't often rely on memory. There's usually a selection of images on a pane to one side of the screen, with the hidden things scattered around a main image. If she's still sharp they're a great diversion. My housemate's 9 year old daughter ate them up with a spoon when they came out. They really aren't that difficult, but they have the potential to be a fun little time eater. They also don't require a lot of technical skill - no button mashing. Just point and click.

Like I said, they have free trials. You can try a few and if she hates them, no big loss.
posted by Jilder at 2:32 AM on November 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

On the off chance the sometimes (often) opaque verb searching of text adventures isn't too much a problem, you can probably find hundreds tailored to her exact genre preferences. Try the IF Archive via this search page, or the IF Wiki for categorised games and some info about running them.
posted by lucidium at 2:37 AM on November 7, 2012

I liked the Blackwell series about a psychic and a ghost detective. Like many adventure games they can get a bit pixel hunty though. I don't remember that much about the interface but you can read the dialog on the screen.
posted by interplanetjanet at 5:48 AM on November 7, 2012

There is a series of Nancy Drew games for the pc. They might have been originally targeted at tween girls, but from the Amazon reviews it seems that plenty of grown women enjoy the heck out of them. I am not sure if the story progresses via text or sound, so you might want to search that out before buying.
posted by Brody's chum at 8:59 AM on November 7, 2012

Response by poster: Professor Layton looks absolutely gorgeous, but unfortunately it's the wrong platform. Are there a lot of adventure games like that for the Nintendo or anything similar for Windows?
posted by Beholder at 9:32 AM on November 7, 2012

The DS is pretty good for adventure games. The Layton games, Ghost Trick, and Phoenix Wright are all tops, and there are a lot of other visual novels for it too. Layton is specific to the DS, I think.
posted by painquale at 3:14 PM on November 8, 2012

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