Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Game Design


Game Design

First Advisor

James Hutson

Second Advisor

Jeremiah Ratican

Third Advisor

Stacey Noble Loveland


In this thesis, findings of research in gerontoludic character design, in other words the design of game player characters focused upon the needs, wants, and expectations of older adults, are delivered. To support these findings, there is a review of qualitative and quantitative literature on ageism, including the impact of aging stereotypes and assumptions upon technology driven industries such as the game industry. This exploration of the roots of ageism includes an examination of how ageism affects the frequency and nature of older adult characters, both playable and non-playable, found in video games. Part of the justification of this topic includes consideration of profitability and play habits of older adult players, for the purposes of the research that refers to players aged 50 and older. To better the odds of creating content that will be appealing to this potentially profitable audience, game designers need to understand how to avoid ageist perspectives in the design of game characters and their narrative arcs. To that end, current research in the design of games for older adults, both from gerontological and gerontoludic design perspectives, is paired with viewpoints on the design of video game characters, particularly player characters. This is combined with the results of a survey conducted on the character design preferences of older adults. The reviewed research and analysis of survey results is then used to create a set of gerontoludic character design guidelines that can hopefully lead to the development of more appealing player characters and avoid negative, stereotypical portrayals of older adults.


Copyright 2022, Robin Koman.