Meet the Matagi Snipers. Based in Akita, the eight-person team is Japan’s first senior esports professional team, complete with a sponsor and everything.
The team was established as a way to show the health benefits of esports for older adults, as well as to impress the grandkids. NHK reports that twenty-one people applied to join the team, but only eight made the cut. The hopefuls were selected on their gaming aptitude, even if they weren’t necessarily huge gamers—or ones, at all.
“Up until now, I never played video games,” said 67-year-old member Eba. She added that once she started playing, she felt that gaming was preventative for cognitive impairment, by having her move her hands and eyes together, as well as talking strategy with her teammates while playing. All of this has helped keep her sharp.
The Matagi Snipers, with its players ranging in ages from 66 to 73, is not the first esports team for older adults. Back in 2017, the Lenovo-sponsored Silver Snipers made a big splash by being a Counter Strike team filled with over-60s players.
Showing a wider range of people playing makes esports more inclusive. Last year in Japan, an esports facility for senior citizens called ISR Esports opened in Kobe. Catering to people over 60, the facility aims to introduce video games to complete beginners. One 88-year-old man, who has been going to ISR Esports for the past year, admitted that he previously didn’t really like games. Now, however, he sees they are quite enjoyable. “That’s because there are lots of different types,” he told Japan’s ABC TV.
Practicing three times a week, the Matagi Snipers are slated to start streaming this October. The goal is to enter tournaments and win. Practicing three times a week seems light by esports standards, but this team does show the need for more senior teams—and leagues. Present-day pros cannot play at the same level forever, and perhaps as they age, they’d still like to compete. Golf has the Senior PGA, why can’t esports?