From Stockholm, Sweden, a group of gamers has begun to get attention for breaking the typical gamer demographic. The Silver Snipers are all 60 years old or older. They compete in world tournaments and play competitively against people one-fourth their age.
This year at Dreamhack 2017, they were the first senior Counter-Strike team in history to compete against “the premiere eSports elite,” their website says: “Gaming is for the elderly and Silver Snipers are on a mission to prove it.”
They play the computer game Counter-Strike, a multiplayer first-person shooter that began in 1999. Gamers play on teams of terrorists or counterterrorists. The Silver Snipers consists of five players who go by these nicknames: BirDie, Windy, Knitting Knight, Teen Slayer, and Berra Bang.
I interviewed the team through email and asked for more about them, how they got started, and how they like the competitive gaming scene. Lenovo, a company that designs, develops, and manufactures computers, has sponsored The Silver Snipers.
“We were not friends before, but the game has brought us closer together. We mostly hang out when we are training,” said Abbe “BirDie” Drakborg. The Silver Snipers do play for fun, but they are also playing competitively, and getting coaching from the famous, now-retired Counter-Strike player Tommy “Potti” Ingemarsson, who won the world cup 10 times.
Before being part of the team, many of the members had never played a game like Counter-Strike before, noted Bertil “Berra Bang” Englund.
“I played card games when I was a kid but nothing more, so this was a real challenge,” Englund said. Monica “Teen Slayer” Idenfors added, “I have played some digital games on Facebook before but I have never done any sort of legit ‘e-sport’ before this.”
In wildly popular E-sports tournaments, spectators watch people compete in videogames just like they watch football players. E-sports are still young and new, so the players are typically young as well. E-sports are growing rapidly in popularity, and people can actually make their living from of playing videogames.
As apparently the first competitive elderly game team, the Silver Snipers are certainly well-received by fellow gamers despite their age differences. The team went to Dreamhack earlier this December, a Swedish E-sport event, and the biggest in the world.
“It was really cool. We didn’t win against the other teams but we had so much fun!” said BirDie.
“It was crazy!” Wanja “Knitting Knight” Godänge went on. “People want to take selfies with us and they also want our autographs, we’re like some kind of rock stars. But I have to add we have been received with such great positive attitude. A lot of love from everyone especially the gaming community.”
The Silver Snipers’ presence has sparked talk about creating a special division of E-sports for older gamers. Naturally, the reaction times of older gamers can be slower, making it potentially more difficult to compete at the same level as younger players can. However, having a different division would let them compete with others of the same age, a fairer playing field.
“I would love to see more of my age group gaming! I can find a lot of good skills to practice like strategy, quicker finger movements, and best is to get to meet so many young people and share the experience with them!” said Knitting Knight. “Gaming is for everyone!”
They do, of course, play for fun, to be part of a community, and as one member said, to connect with their grandkids. Like other competitive mental activities such as chess or Sudoku puzzles, videogames may also help retain cognitive function, improve multitasking skills, and maintain or improve reflexes. As we age, it is important to keep our brain healthy through mental gymnastics. The Silver Snipers have discovered how useful videogames are for keeping their aging brains active.
“With gaming you really get a chance to practice co-ordination, strategy and dexterity,” noted Englund.
The team is amazing to see in action. With matching gear and jackets, these gamers walk the walk and talk the talk. You can even support the team and pick up some of their merchandise on their website. These are not only the sweetest people around, but also funny and fierce. Not to mention they are breaking stereotypes and changing the face of gaming.