Bringing People Together Through Gaming: Consoles and the Generational Gap

Family, for a lot of people, is the first community we’re a part of— be that a good or bad thing. Typically families will bond over various activities; surfing, music, household chores, and, in a more contemporary situation, video games. 

My Brother (Rhys) and I were raised on Nintendo- particularly the Wii- and we’ve always been close with each other and our parents on the grounds of gaming. My first memories of the Wii are playing swordfighting a little too violently with Rhys and almost hitting the kitchen bench multiple times, watching my Dad playing The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess when I was supposed to be in bed, and of course the nagging Wii fit board that now sits broken in our garage, something internal leaving it a glorified stepping stool sitting in a box. 

With the recent news of Nintendo ceasing support for the Wii and shutting down their servers, I figured I’d reflect on those times, those formative years with my family, and how it isn’t just us finding these connections through one of the most universal forms of media to date. 

Now, I will be the first to admit that I’m putting on a pair of rose-coloured glasses for this post. My childhood was far from perfect, those Wii swordfights led to more.. real fights between my brother and I as we got older, and I was usually scolded and sent back to bed when my parents caught me watching their “adult” game. That doesn’t, however, discount the valuable memories and shared time that video games provide. In a 2012 study by Amy Voida and Saul Greenberg, it was shown that console gaming greatly helped in establishing positive intergenerational relationships. I’m sure we’ve at least at some point heard of the Summmer 2024 Lamb Ad The Generational Gap, (Source: Australian Lamb, 2024) right? While a bit niche for people my age, it presents a very real concept in a way that’s pretty… digestible. Just as lamb is presented in the ad, for a lot of people, video games are a bridge between the different worlds we’re shuffled into. While we’re never going to achieve world peace; everyone’s gonna be mad at someone about something, there’s a lot to be said about what studies and anecdotes tell us about the way games forge audiences.

As referred to in the study Console gaming across generations: exploring intergenerational interactions in collocated console gaming, as the generational gap grows, so does the persistent problem of connecting people across it. As Amy Voida and Saul Greenberg found, people were far more likely to play games within their own generation (Source: Voida, et. al., 2011 ), owing some insight into how many multiplayer games are designed.

Within the realm of ‘family’ games, there are two popular formulas: Board game mimics, which see players competing in a series of mini games as they race to a finish line; and ‘Arcade’-style collections of usually more complex mini games, such as Nintendo Land for the Wii U, a personal childhood favourite.

Both formats are wildly successful for a reason, especially in multi-franchise games, which allow parents and grandparents to share beloved experiences with children in an easier to understand. Without games like this, my brother and I never would’ve had the same shared loves as our parents, the late nights sneaking a peek at Zelda, and the strange fixations on more niche elements of video games.

Without shared experiences, communities cannot be established, and without communities, digital media ceases to be the overwhelming force that rules our lives. While that can certainly be a good thing at times, it’s important to recognise what our technology and media does for us- and maybe that will give us the push to go try a new experience with those we love.

Reference list

Anonymous n.d., Mecha Yellow Bulborb, Alien Species, viewed 31 March 2024, <https://aliens.fandom.com/wiki/Mecha_Yellow_Bulborb>.

Australian Lamb 2024, The Generation Gap | 2024 Lamb Ad, www.youtube.com.

Voida, A & Greenberg, S 2011, ‘Console Gaming across generations: Exploring Intergenerational Interactions in Collocated Console Gaming’, viewed 15 March 2024, <https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10209-011-0232-1#citeas>.


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