In Japan, there’s an ongoing eSports craze. It’s not a surprising phenomenon as Japan is famously very tech-savvy. What is surprising is the significant percentage of Japanese eSports players that are seniors. In fact, recently a professional eSports team was formed for exclusively elderly players. The team is called the Matagi Snipers and its youngest member is 65 years old.
Meet Matagi Snipers
Founded in 2021 in Akita, Matagi Snipers is Japan’s first eSports team exclusive to those aged 65 or older. The team numbers eight members, the oldest of whom will turn 74 next year.
Matagi Snipers are a professional eSports team. Their plan is to take part in pro tournaments. As of now, they still haven’t reached that level, but they’re working hard on it. Their plan is to enter their first professional tournament in 2022.
The only way to get there is to practice. To be able to do so on a consistent basis, the team needs funding. The good news is that the funding has already been taken care of. The Matagi Snipers have secured sponsorships from companies from the world of eSports.
They have the luxury to train three times a week. That should be sufficient for them to qualify for a major tournament. Simply taking part in a professional eSports event is their current priority. Winning titles is also on their agenda but age brings patience.
The team cites their motivation as a desire to impress their grandchildren. They also have expressed a desire to inspire other seniors. Staying active as a senior isn’t easy and eSports/video games offer activity and a social environment. Many hope the example of the Matagi Snipers will lead to the launch of a seniors-only eSports league in Japan.
Matagi Snipers are Not the Only Ones
Matagi Snipers are the first professional eSports team for elderly games in Japan. Before the foundation there were many opportunities for seniors to get involved with eSports. About a year before the Matagi Snipers’ creation, ISR eSports was launched in Kobe. Unlike Matagi Snipers, ISR eSports is not an eSports team. It is an initiative to introduce senior citizens to the world of modern computer games.
Outside Japan, we’ve also seen a sharp rise in seniors’ involvement in eSports in Europe. Senior eSports is especially popular in places like Sweden. There, a CS:GO team called Silver Snipers formed in 2017. The team’s founder is Abbe “DieHardBirdie” Borg; an eSports player who turned 80 earlier this year.
Two years ago, the team took part in the Senior World Cup, where they played CS:GO against Grey Gunners from Finland. Borg’s team won, which made him the oldest player ever to win an eSports tournament. It happened in 2019 when DieHardBirdie was 78.
In the United States, a survey conducted by AARP showed more than 10 million Americans aged 50 or over are avid gamers. This statistic has only become significant in the last couple of years. As a result, the total number of senior games in the US is estimated to be over 50 million.
Why Do Seniors Love eSports?
Japan has one of the longest life expectancies of any country. Almost one-third of the population are seniors. Add to that the Japanese culture of technology and video games and the phenomenon is clear. Seniors in Japan would logically be interested in getting on the eSports bandwagon.
The world’s largest video game company, Nintendo, is Japanese. A company that got into the business in 1972. The Magnavox Odyssey was the first Nintendo console. At the time of the launch today’s seniors were in their teens.
After the commercial success of the console, Nintendo jumped deeper into video games. They released arcade games like Mario Bros and Legend of Zelda in the 1980s. From Japan, the popularity of video games spread all over the world. Companies from other parts of the planet were inspired to start working on their own games.
As a result, there are big software companies all around the world now. Some of them have created incredibly popular video games among senior gamers. The most popular of those is Counter-Strike. This first-person shooter was developed by Valve, a corporation from Washington State.
Another very popular game is PUBG, a multiplayer battle royale game developed by a South Korean company. Then, there’s also Minecraft, a product of Swedish developers, which is the world’s #1 best-selling video game as of December 2021.