A lot of people play video games. Most of them play for fun and general entertainment, just as they would read a book or watch a movie. But games can also be useful for other purposes, such as education and self improvement.
While they generally aren’t on the top of the list of the best or most popular games, there’s a variety of games available for adults wishing to improve mentally with their favorite pastime. Most of them tend to be available for either the computer or handheld games, such as the Nintendo DS or the Sony PSP. There are a handful for consoles as well, so whatever system you have is likely to have something for brain training.
On the handheld systems, the Brain Age series for the Nintendo DS springs to mind. The series, which debuted in 2005 with Brain Age: Train Your Brain in Minutes a Day!. The games use a wide variety of puzzles to test your mental abilities. As you complete the puzzles, the game provides tips on how to improve your scores based on how quickly you can complete the puzzles.
First, the game tests your “brain age” through a series of puzzles designed to gauge your grasp of various subjects, including math and vocabulary. The lower your “brain age,” the better, with 20 being the lowest score possible. Once you’ve finished the check, the game opens up another series of puzzles designed to help you improve your skills in math, reading, and comprehension.
Other games take a somewhat less scientific approach, such as the PSP title PQ: Practical Intelligence Quotient. PQ deals with more logic based puzzles, generally along the lines of “Get from one end of the stage to the other past the given obstacles.” Once you play through the game’s 100 levels, the game rates you on how quickly you performed. The resultant score can be then put online and compared to other players.
Computer educational games tend to focus much more on the education than the game. Games like the Mavis Beacon typing series are mainly window dressing for the lessons contained therein. The lessons can be effective, while the game aspect tends to be bland and suffer for it.
Finally, console educational games tend to be overlooked when they do come out. Partly because of the stigma attached that educational games aren’t fun. There are some exceptions, such as Sega’s Typing of the Dead on the Dreamcast. But if you’re looking for console games to give your brain a work out, you’re generally better off finding puzzle or strategy games. These games may not go out of their way to teach you, but they do force you to think quickly, and outside the box, which can be just as valuable.
So, in short, if you’re an adult looking to expand your brain a bit, you can find what you’re looking for either on handhelds, computers, or consoles. If you’re looking mainly for the educational value, look for computer games. If you want to focus on the fun and incidentally exercise your mind, check out the consoles. For a happy medium, try the hand helds.