Gaming for Brainpower: Four different activities to play online that test players creativity, risk appetite, problem solving abilities along with organisational skills.
If there were ever any doubts that we are well and truly living in the digital era, the first half of 2020 quickly put them to rest. The digital space has grown beyond expectation so far this year, with people from all over the world heading online to do everything from attending virtual workshops and conferences, to catching up with loved ones and completing university degrees.
The gaming industry, too, has experienced some incredible growth during the first 7 months of the year, with online and mobile gaming becoming one of the most popular activities throughout the globe, even among celebrities. Whereas gaming was once considered at best a distraction from “proper” work or learning, it’s now been proven to have all manner of brain boosting benefits. And it’s not just the brain training games or puzzle apps that can have positive effects; even playing a platform video game that’s purely designed for entertainment can increase your brainpower.
Some games are, of course, more beneficial than others. So, here are four of the best online gaming activities to try:
Sandbox games, in which players can let their imaginations run wild and create whole new worlds, have been a firm favourite with gamers since the genre was first developed. They can also be really beneficial when it comes to problem solving in the real world.
The hugely popular Minecraft, for example, helps to strengthen vital life skills like self-direction, creativity, and collaboration. Meanwhile, games like SimCity reinforce resource management and organisational skills.
There’s even an element of STEM-related professional development involved within sandbox games that can be hosted on separate servers. As well as getting to grips with the technology needed to self-host, players effectively act as server admins – maintaining hardware installing mods – so these games can provide a good introduction to a potential new career.
Online Card Games
Poker is a popular card game that takes a lot of skill and discipline to play. Professional poker players have some of the most impressive and strategic minds around, so it’s no wonder the game is often compared to high pressure industries like the stock market.
Poker is well known for being a discipline that actually helps to rewire the brains of the people who play it, even for those who aren’t playing it as a career. This traditional game is linked to the process of neuroplasticity, which is essentially the brain’s ability to transform itself. Playing it regularly, even at a beginner level, will build up your focus, concentration, emotional control, and intuition, and even change your brain in the process.
Poker isn’t the only classic card game to offer some brain boosting benefits, however. Playing the centuries old game of blackjack is another great way to increase cognitive ability and ramp up your mental skillset, due to the numerous probability calculations that you’ll need to make, even during a simple round of the game.
Platform games are at the core of the gaming industry, having been in existence since the video game era first kicked off during the 1980s and 90s. They’re exciting and entertaining to play, and with such a huge variety of titles now in existence they appeal to gamers of all ages and genders.
They’ve also been scientifically proven to develop the brain.
Super Mario 64 is an old favourite, and it recently formed the basis of a scientific study into the effects that playing video games can have on the brain. The researchers found that daily bursts of gameplay had a dramatic positive effect on three key brain region. These were; the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain that governs cognitive planning, decision making, personality, and social behaviour; the right hippocampus, which is the centre of short-term and long-term memory; and the cerebellum, leading to greater fine motor skills and muscular control in participants.
Much like classic card games, online version of classic puzzles like Sudoku and Crosswords are also infinitely helpful when it comes to developing some extra brainpower. They’re both old school brain training activities, and attempting to solve them will improve a wide range of cognitive skills including decision making, the ability to create and recollect new memories, and problem solving.