Top rated gaming experiences to exercise brain skills
In this ever-changing world, we are continuously tasked to be logical thinkers, and to use our problem-solving skills to come up with creative solutions to different scenarios we face each day, either in our academic or professional careers. Developing and improving these skills, and achieving a good level of proficiency, however, is not a quick process, as it requires a lot of hard work, and daily practice, to have a sharp mind.
Even though exercising our brain skills is a demanding task, it can also be fun, and today, there are many alternatives of gaming activities that provide us with great mind challenges, to sharpen our creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills, ranging from immersive video games to gamified training.
Challenging video games
After decades of blame for “destroying young people’s minds”, video games are finally being praised for their true potential as powerful educational tools that are able to stimulate players’ creativity and critical thinking. There are even some recent studies that have shown that playing video games can improve some of our cognitive skills, such as reaction time, mental flexibility, and spatial abilities, apart from helping us relax and reduce stress levels.
Video games like Minecraft and Roblox, of which gameplays revolve around building and creating virtual worlds, are known to exercise some of these skills, especially spatial abilities. Regarded as “virtual Lego” sets, due to graphics resembling Lego bricks, these games provide creative platforms in which players can exercise brain skills by designing detailed virtual worlds, while dealing with resource management, storage issues, and even climatic transformations.
These aspects are also part of the gameplay in simulation video games. These games have been around for some time now, and have always been praised for stimulating players’ critical thinking, by presenting scenarios and tasks that exercise our problem-solving skills. Life simulation titles like Sid Meier’s Civilization, SimCity, and even Stardew Valley, provide us with different challenges, such as managing food supplies and crops, attending citizens’ needs, and developing technologies, which can help us improve our multi-tasking abilities, and even our attentional capacity.
Cards and brain skills
For a long time, card games were seen merely as games of chance, with little or no skill involved at all. Today, however, we know that card games aren’t just about luck, and even though some of them are still considered games of chance, a lot of skill is required. Poker and blackjack are certainly the most popular card games in the world, and are known to be good exercises to keep our brains active and our minds sharpened. Poker has already earned its space among mind sports, and blackjack specialists and players argue that the game is in fact a game of skill, since it requires quick decision-making and good math skills.
Since the poker boom, in the mid-2000s, the game is one of the most played online, and today there are a plethora of online poker rooms and poker websites, like PokerStars and GGPoker. Most operators offer different game variations and bet limits, including no-limit Texas hold’em and Omaha, and even free-play tables for casual and inexperienced players.
Blackjack can be played online as well, on one of the many casino websites available today that offer the game and its variants, such as progessive blackjack and multi-hand blackjack, and even live dealer games, which are managed and operated by professional croupiers. Since the selection of websites is almost endless, it can be difficult to find a trustworthy operator; however, according to this review on NorthCasino.com, the recently launched iGaming platform provides a huge portfolio of games, with several titles for players to choose from, including blackjack and poker.
Gamification for the mind
Gamifying learning processes has become a common practice in the past few years, and many developers have been working on different learning platforms that use gamification to provide a new attractive way of teaching diverse subjects. Therefore, several brain training programs were created to improve our brain skills with fun and innovative gameplays.
One of the most popular of these brain training programs, Lumosity is a platform developed by researchers and scientists that offers mental fitness games, tests and other activities, and keeps track of progress and improvements to provide a fully customizable experience. Lumosity can be played on its official website, or through mobile apps available for both iOS and Android devices.
Another popular alternative is Elevate, a free mobile app that focuses on improving cognitive skills through more than 35 different brain training games, applying reading, writing, speaking, and math skills. The app is available in multiple languages for iOS and Android devices.