The Mattering Circle: How Social Gaming Can Promote Mattering among Golden Gamers

Jessica Francis, Christopher Ball, Tim Huang and Julie Brown


Older adults are susceptible to feelings of loneliness, isolation, and depression. The theoretical concept of “mattering” has been shown to protect against these negative aspects of aging, thus promoting healthy aging and increased well-being. In essence, mattering is a person’s belief that they are important and relied upon by others. We argue that digital games are uniquely positioned to promote a sense of mattering among older adults. Furthermore, we posit that digital games can be designed to encourage social interactions and social presence, which may increase older adults’ feelings of mattering. Preliminary qualitative interviews suggest that mattering has a cyclical effect on older adults by both serving as a motivating factor that actively engages older adults in gameplay and as a beneficial outcome that can contribute to healthy aging and increased well-being. Given the insightful responses from our interviewees, we believe there is both a theoretical and practical justification for further exploring the mattering circle with forthcoming quantitative data. Therefore, we are in the process of conducting a small scale survey of older adult gamers, or "golden gamers", to determine how mattering influences their lives and well-being.