Or, more specifically, how some online games can improve your cognitive skills. Because when it comes to mental development, not all games are created equally, and we’re here to explain why.
First a bit of context, the past few years have seen an explosion of online gaming. Indeed, the global market for online gaming is projected to reach a staggering $321 billion by 2026.
Great for gamers, but maybe not so much for parents, teachers, partners etc., who may be feeling that their kid/pupil/partner is merely wasting time. And yes, some games based on pure luck that involve zero skills may be just that, a waste of time.
But others may benefit you over and above winning a few bucks, as some online games are proven to improve cognitive skills.
But what are cognitive skills and how do they work? Below, we’ve broken these skills down into five categories to discover more about them.
- Memory/Long Term: Remembering names, places, treasured moments etc.
- Memory/Real Time: Retaining information while you’re using it, such as not forgetting someone’s name seconds after being introduced to them.
- Logic/Reasoning: Solving problems, lateral thinking.
- Visual Processing: The ability to be able to visualise your thoughts to solve problems.
- Auditory Processing: The ability to be able to understand or make sense of sounds, such as language.
- Processing Speed: How quickly you can think on your feet.
- Attention Span: How long before you’re bored rigid.
Let’s check out a list compiled by Riku of BonusFinder shows which shows a random selection of games. Some of these will be of benefit to your mental well-being, the question is, which ones?
Starting with some of the online casino games in the list, there are two in particular that requires more than just luck to win: there are many, many more that rely on pure chance, but Poker and Blackjack aren’t two of them. You can choose
Poker is more than a game of chance, yes, luck does play a large role -for example, you’ve no control over which cards you are dealt. But working out probabilities based on those cards and bluffing accordingly requires cognitive thought.
Also being able to sustain a protracted period of attention while you’re processing the information (literally) in hand has value. And the same applies to Blackjack, but in this instance, you can further improve your chances of winning with a host of strategies based on probability. There are many online casino sites available offering casino games with some of the best promotions, as this list compiled by Riku of Bonus Finder shows.
Blackjack players will also know certain actions can help to put the odds in their favour before the game has even begun. But away from the green baize, there is an assortment of games that also help with your brain’s cognitive functioning.
Let’s take a look at a selection of video games to discover how these might help.
- Action video games can hone your reaction times, increase your attention span and improve your spatial awareness. It can also have a positive effect on your ability to rapidly process visual information to determine the function of any given feature.
- First-person shooters can do the same as the above, as well as helping you to quickly adapt to environmental changes and efficiently switch between tasks.
- Playing video games with a physical component can have a positive effect on your visuospatial skills and improve your ability to juggle multiple tasks.
Needless to say, in the latter instance, the mental health benefits are being exacerbated by physical activity. But this is the exception rather than the rule.
It’s worth noting at this stage that prolonged bouts of physical inactivity are not recommended and can even be detrimental to your overall health. It’s therefore recommended that keen gamers stop playing at least once an hour to engage in some form of physical recreation.
Finally, let’s take a look at some games that are almost fully reliant on cognitive ability. They’re so effective at cognitive exercise they even fall under the category of ‘Brain Games’.
All can be played on the go on a smartphone and some can even be played offline. Here’s a selection of some old favourites and some you might not be so familiar with.
- Chess. If you’ve never heard of chess, it’s unlikely you’ll be reading this. A timeless classic that can be played against the computer or with a real-life opponent.
- Lumosity: This isn’t technically one game, but it’s worth a mention as its home to a bunch of science-accredited brain training games.
- Solitaire: Still one of the best synaptic nerve-popping games ever invented. Play online or, dare we say, offline with a deck of old-school playing cards.
- Sudoku: A short-term memory masterclass that comes in varying degrees of difficulty.
- Wordle: Last but by no means least, New York Times’ finest daily word game, best played at lunchtime with a sandwich.
Food for thought, that.