How Digital Technology and Video Games Gave My Dad New Purpose After Retirement

“Always learn and experiment. Time won’t wait.”

Erik P.M. Vermeulen, PhD
3 min readJul 29, 2022


Photo courtesy of author

My dad and best friend passed away last week — an unexpected, unreal, and devastating moment.

Before I left the hospital, a nurse gave me his smartphone and computer. He insisted on taking his devices with him when he was hospitalized a few days earlier.

“I feel well enough to do some work,” I remember him saying. It all turned out rather differently.

I looked at his smartphone after I got home and noticed many new emails and messages. I couldn’t bring myself to check them. Stupid messages! Who cares!

Despite my terrible grief, I found myself checking them thirty minutes later. What if some messages needed his attention. I couldn’t simply ignore what he was working on. What was important to my dad suddenly seemed essential for me.

I am happy I did. He wasn’t active on social media himself. No popularity contest and self-attention for him. He lived his life in the service of other people and managed the social media and online marketing for several businesses and organizations. A restaurant. An aquarium shop. A sports organization. A legal service provider.

I had an amazing dad who — as a baby boomer — was more digital savvy than many digital natives I know.

He had always been very active. An outstanding sales and marketing person. Never a dull moment. But after his retirement, maintaining an active and busy work life wasn’t easy. People tended to judge him on his age and receding, grey hair.

Also, the world started to digitize. Who needs the knowledge and skills of a baby boomer? When he grew up letters were still the main form of communication. He had to go to the neighbors to use a landline phone. I have heard many stories of retired people who feel excluded from the world.

My dad knew he had to unlearn and relearn everything, and that he had to do this himself. One way to self-learn was to play video games. Not chess or checkers, but hardcore adventure and role-playing games. And he became good at it. We even created silly competitions. Who was first to finish a game? It was…



Erik P.M. Vermeulen, PhD

Prof (Law) | Sci-fi | Sociological storytelling