Life is an arcade

Arcade games for seniors are becoming a high-growth area in Japan.

In Japan, where half the population will be older than 65 by 2055, companies are already sensing the arrival of a flourishing new market: arcade games for seniors. Nintendo, for one, announced in January that it intends to enter the "health game" area, reports French daily Le Monde.

Misae, a lively 87-year-old, can't get enough of her weekly dose of an arcade "exergame" called Crocodile Panic. Her task is to use a light hammer to smash plastic crocodiles as they shoot out of a hole, before they recoil in hiding.

"It's like mental gymnastics and it also gets me moving," says Misae, who goes once a week to a health centre in Yokohama that offers game therapy.

Perhaps it's not surprising that this new type of game should hail from Japan. It was here that the Pachinko machine — the Japanese answer to slot machines — emerged in the 1920s, and although it's changed form over the years, it's just as popular now as it was then.