We may now live in a digital era where screens dominate our leisure time, but traditional games in all their various forms still remain a favoured method of play and entertainment. However, they're actually a lot more than simply being fun activities and practices.
Recent studies have shown that certain games can also offer significant cognitive benefits, improving problem-solving skills, enhancing EQ and IQ, and even boosting the overall functioning of our grey matter. Engaging in strategic and intellectually stimulating games can, in some cases, be just as beneficial as more formalized training or educational activities.
Not all games are created equal, however, so if you're curious to find out more about those games that could make you smarter, keep reading.
For several years, when the pastime first became mainstream, playing video games was often dismissed as a mindless, even time-wasting activity. Of course, nowadays, electronic gaming has created a multi-billion dollar global industry and brought about the emergence of professional gaming as a legitimate career (albeit for a select few).
Not only are modern video games highly immersive and engaging, but they can also be a great way to improve your cognitive skills. Numerous academic studies have been conducted into the value of video gaming, with console classics like Super Mario Kart having a positive impact on everything from hand-eye coordination to memory and recall.
The digital gaming industry in the 21st century is vast and encompasses a wide range of different genres and virtual experiences, several of which can provide substantial benefits. Playing strategy-based games like the Civilization franchise can sharpen your analytical skills, while popular MMORPGs (massively multiplayer online role-playing games) facilitate teamwork and communication.
This traditional card game may have been in play for centuries, but that doesn't make it any less captivating or relevant to modern audiences. In fact, thanks to the rise of the iGaming industry and the accessibility of online poker, more people than ever before are now playing this casino classic, many of which aren't the typical card gaming demographic. Platforms like PokerStars make it convenient to learn the rules and complexities of variants like Texas Hold 'em. Meanwhile, the multiple digital tournaments that are readily available make it easy for beginners to play competitively.
The game of poker is also renowned for its ability to boost decision-making and strategic thinking in players. Now recognised as a mind sport, poker combines skill, strategy and psychology, requiring players to assess probabilities, calculate outcomes and read their opponents all with limited information to hand. Moreover, regularly playing this card game can strengthen recall, fostering cognitive flexibility in the process.
Long celebrated as the quintessential strategy game, chess has its roots in ancient times. Over the centuries, its travelled across continents from South East Asia to Europe and the Americas, and while it has evolved in the process its strategic essence remains the same. These days, chess is considered the pinnacle of intellectual prowess, but it's an engaging game that can — and should — be enjoyed by all.
Part of the enduring appeal of chess as a mind sport is the challenge involved in playing it. Sure, there's the thrill of victory if you are able to successfully win a game, but, to paraphrase that old cliche, there's lots to enjoy in the journey, too. When playing chess, you'll have to call upon all your wits to anticipate the moves of your opponent and plan your own strategy in the process.
You can think of chess as the gaming equivalent of a cerebral workout. Even as a beginner, you'll soon start to see the impact of the intricate planning, foresight, and adaptability that the game requires. Each move you make in the game is a result of calculated decision-making, and even if you make the "wrong" moves, you're still training your brain through problem-solving and critical analysis. It's also a great pastime to play to improve mindfulness, and it teaches you a great deal about patience and perseverance, too.