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Arcade owners in Japan are fighting to survive. The kid who once lined up to play the latest title from Sega now prefers playing on her home console or her phone. Coming to the arcade’s rescue? Her grandparents. As Japan’s 65+ population grows as a share of the overall population, arcade owners all seem to have had a similar thought: Why can’t the arcade be as fun for older people as it once was for younger ones?

Of course, if you’re an arcade owner, you have to make a few changes. First, replace first-person shooter and combat games that older games tend to avoid with analog challenges like coin pushers. Next, install more benches—older folks won’t stand and play for hours the way younger ones might. Also, rethink your prize inventory—instead of toys and trinkets, older gamers prefer to win useful items like vegetables and cooking oil. And a little outreach will help—smart arcade owners visit nursing homes and show off the games to residents.

With these changes in place, Japanese arcades have become a social gathering place for a new—older—generation.


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