Games That Can Give Your Brain a Workout
Wednesday, 14 April 2021

Millions of us play games of all kinds every single day. They’re fun, entertaining, and a great way to relax. Many of them can be played with others, which also makes them a great way to socialise, either through spending time with friends or by giving you an opportunity to meet new people.

But many games can also help put your brain through its paces, helping to improve your memory, reactions, creativity, and cognitive abilities. Some games do this more subtly than others so, more often than not, you’ll be training your brain without even noticing.

If you like the idea of having fun while giving your grey matter a workout, then here are some good options to try.
 

Poker

 
Poker is one of the world's most popular card games thanks to its varied gameplay, infinite repeatability, and social aspects. It shares many similarities with other card games, in that it requires the player to attempt to make the highest-ranking hand possible using the cards they have available.
 
However, unlike most other games, players with a weaker hand can still beat an opponent with a stronger hand if they can successfully bluff others at the table into thinking they hold better cards. A key skill in doing this and defending against players attempting to bluff is to read facial expressions and body language. In live games, some players will wear sunglasses to stop their opponents from seeing their eyes in an attempt to give away less insight into their gameplay.
 
The list of poker variants is very long, but they all share certain basic principles and rules. For example, they all contain a "pot" for bets to be put in, and require that a mandatory bet is placed by at least one (but usually two) player(s).
 
Poker is a great game for giving your brain a workout as it requires you to think strategically and to develop your ability to read the body language of others. These are both vital in the real world too, especially when conducting negotiations, planning work, or forming first impressions of people.
 

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

 
You may not realise it, but playing shooting games could help to improve certain aspects of your brain.
 
In a 2010 study published in Current Directions in Psychological Science, researchers found that playing “action games” decreased the participant’s reaction times by 13%, more than twice that of subjects that played The Sims instead.
 
The study used Unreal Tournament and Call of Duty 2, but it doesn’t actually matter which title you play, as any first-person shooter will do. However, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is a great option because it’s free-to-play and compatible with computers with modest hardware.
 
The game is a sequel to the popular Counter-Strike franchise where you play as a member of a counter-terrorism task force. It was released in 2012 and continues to receive updates to this day.
 
A 2018 update also added a battle royale mode called Danger Zone, helping to keep the game relevant as the tastes of gamers changes.
 

Sudoku

Sudoku is a number puzzle that requires you to put the numbers 1-9 inside a 9x9 grid. Each row and column must contain each number once, as must each 3x3 grid within the larger square.
 
It has its origins in 19th-century France, but its name comes from Japan. The game really took off in the 1980s and has remained popular since, with entire Sudoku puzzle books offering page after page of puzzles, in addition to the daily puzzles published in several popular newspapers and phone and computer-based options.
 
Completing a Sudoku puzzle requires several different skills. Firstly, you need to be patient, as a great deal of trial and error is necessary. Additionally, Sudoku will force you to develop your problem-solving skills; otherwise, you’ll spend hours trying different combinations of numbers.
 
Sudoku also requires a lot of patience and concentration, two skills that are invaluable in life. If you struggle with numbers, then this puzzle could also help you to feel more comfortable with those too.
 
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