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Finding Better Games for Older Adults

For more information about the game clinic, contact


  • Naj Khalili-Mahani (Concordia University)
  • Kim Sawchuk (Concordia University)
  • Rilla Khaled (Concordia University)
  • Bob de Schutter (Miami University)


All fun, no stress

The rapid growth of smart-computing and interactive communication technologies has opened important frontiers in design and development of digital health strategies at the level of screening, prevention and importantly, intervention and rehabilitation. The potential for providing assistive care to older adults through these digitized strategies is tremendous, however, there are several issues with acceptability and accessibility of these technologies that need to be overcome through participatory design.

Finding Better Games for Older Adults was initiated in 2017, to first, evaluate the stressfulness of experiencing different genres of games and interfaces with theoretically near-enhancing benefits; and next, to engage older players in the process of design and evaluation of "serious" games that offer potential benefits (psychological, physical or social). This project integrates methods from neuroscience, media psychology, electrical engineering, and human computer interface design.

This research project has led to a new community program supported by the Webster Foundation, at PERFORM Centre, called “Game Clinic Course.” A group of seven silver-players, and three graduate students from Electrical Engineering (Mahsa Mirgholami), Communications (Eileen Holowka), and Design and Computation Arts (Rebecca Goodine) will explore different genres of computer games over two months, and will work towards curating a list of relevant games, and designing an ‘ideal’ Serious Game for Older Adults to be incorporated in PERFORM's regular Community programming.


Assadi A., Elbaz S., Khalili-Mahani N. (2021) "The Belief in Health Benefits of Digital Play Modulates" Physiological Responses to Games: A Repeated-Measures Quantitative Study of Game Stress in Older Adults Playing Different Game Genres." In: Human Aspects of IT for the Aged Population. Supporting Everyday Life Activities. HCII 2021. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, vol 12787. Springer, Cham.

Khalili-Mahani N., de Schutter B., Sawchuk K. (2020) The Relationship Between the Seniors’ Appraisal of Cognitive-Training Games and Game-Related Stress Is Complex: A Mixed-Methods Study. In: Stephanidis C., Antona M., Gao Q., Zhou J. (eds) HCI International 2020 – Late Breaking Papers: Universal Access and Inclusive Design. HCII 2020. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, vol 12426 (pp 586-607).

Najmeh Khalili-Mahani et al. (2020) "Reflective and Reflexive Stress Responses of Older Adults to Three Gaming Experiences In Relation to Their Cognitive Abilities: Mixed Methods Crossover Study”. JMIR Ment Health 2020;7:e12388.

Najmeh Khalili-Mahani et al (2020) "For whom the Games Toll: Qualitative perspectives from three Serious Gaming studies involving game-naive seniors and game-research students", The Computer Games Journal 2020;9:221-244.

Najmeh Khalili-Mahani and Bob de Schutter (2019) “Affective Game Planning for Health Applications (AGPHA)—A quantitative extension to the Gerontoludic Design framework based on the appraisal theory of stress and coping”, JMIR Serious Games 2019;7:e13303.

Najmeh Khalili-Mahani et al. (2017) “Older Adults, Would You Play Computer Games for Brain Health? ‘Yes and No’.”, in Extended Abstracts of CHI PLAY, Amsterdam 2017.

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