It’s important not to get too trapped in thinking about whether or not “games are good for you.” So long as they’re part of a complete and varied lifestyle, games offer the opportunity for fun, expression, and exploration of the imagination, and that’s enough benefit for anyone. However, there are games that can also test the brain in ways that can help you keep it sharp. Much like our muscles, our brain works better when we work it out. Here are some games that do that.
LuminosityIn the past, we might have recommended Dr Kawashima’s Brain Training as a way to offer your brain a wide range of mental fitness games that are specifically designed to test out the different parts of the brain. However, since the DS is no longer supported, Luminosity has become perhaps the best modern equivalent that’s widely available and is accessible for free on both iOS and Android. This is the one game on the list designed specifically with brain training in mind.
The Professor Layton SeriesThankfully, unlike Dr Kawashima’s output, the Layton series is not as lost to time, with many of the games getting ports, and a new release coming in 2025. While it does offer some logic puzzles, Professor Layton is also a great series for getting you to use your brain to think outside the box, consider solutions that might not be immediately obvious, and use different logic tricks in a host of varying situations, which can make them more widely applicable. It also happens to look delightfully cute and stylish in its own fashion.
Any Sudoku gameIn this case, we don’t have to recommend a specific game, nor do we have to spend any money. There are plenty of good free sudoku websites and apps that you can find on the internet. Sudoku is not a maths puzzle, but rather a pure logical thinking exercise and it exercises parts of the brain that may not get as much use in everyday living but can be very helpful to have when you need to rely on puzzle solving or quickly spotting games in patterns to answer questions or work out problems.
CivilizationAside from acting as something of a living museum and looking over the span of human development, Civilization is one of the strategy games that best rewards long-term strategic thinking. Unlike other strategy games, it’s not all about brute force, either. Efficient development of your surrounding terrain, economy building, and focusing on cultural exports make Civilization V, in particular, a great test of your mind for tactics. Of course, any game in the series is great, but V, in particular, is one of the most complete strategy gaming packages available in modern gaming.
Games offer challenges in a wide variety of ways, and finding those that test and tease your brain can be great for improving your mental health, as well as helping you think a little quicker and a little sharper in day-to-day life.