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Just when Tetyana Silenko from Ukraine thought that retirement was all about living out her days in solitude, she came across an advertisement looking for older people to join Ukraine’s first senior e-sports team.
Silenko, whose prior experience with video games was playing Tetris and Solitaire, submitted her application and got selected.
Known under the nickname ‘Valkyrie’, the 61-year-old is now a member of the team ‘Ageless Shooters’ playing multiplayer game ‘Counter Strike: Global Offensive.’
The team, four of whom are over 60, train three times a week and participate in friendly online matches with professional and amateur cyber athletes.
For Silenko, a former engineer, the hardest part was to learn how to operate the mouse and keyboard simultaneously while still maintaining control over the fast-paced gameplay.
But doing different task with two hands – like moving the game character with a keyboard and shooting with the mouse – also brought benefits, she said.
“My reactions became quicker. I assess reality quicker. I can see a whole picture, not just bits and pieces of it. And I believe the game helps me a lot with that.”
Silenko says she spends at least four hours per day playing ‘CS:GO,’ brushing up her skills in aiming a virtual Kalashnikov, throwing grenades and using other weapons.
After three months of training, Ageless Shooters faced fellow senior team ‘Silver Snipers’ from Sweden in September 2019, winning by 16 to 1.
“When we win the game, the spirit is so high, it feels like we are over the moon. There is a sense of elation,” Silenko said.
Ageless Shooters’ coach Andriy Farbun said he had to teach the team members the very basics of playing, from using a mouse and keyboard for gaming to reacting to sounds over headphones.
The team hopes their example will inspire the creation of a professional CS:GO league for senior gamers.