Whether you’re on your coffee break at the office and could use your brain kicking into gear before you’re back to work, or you’re filling time on a Sunday morning before the in-laws come round, there’s no bad time to give your brain a bit of a workout. Everybody likes to feel sharp and on the ball, so we’ve got a selection of games that will help you to achieve that. Some of them focus on language, some numbers, and some logic, so if you’re feeling like a thorough mental workout then you can pick one from each category and stretch those mental muscles. Ready, set, go.
Card games are well-known as games for quick thinkers, but you don’t have to be lightning-fast to begin with; the more you practice, the quicker you’ll get. There are lots of games to choose from but poker is a great place to start. There are hand rankings to learn, and strategies to look into but, most importantly, it’s really easy to play online.
Whether you want to play poker New Jersey or in New York, take a mobile version on your way to work with you, or play on your computer at the office, there are options for all kinds of gamers. Of course, if poker isn’t your thing then solitaire is a solo option which some people prefer. There are no time constraints, unlike poker, so it’s good if you want a slower introduction to card gaming. Better still, all Microsoft computers come with solitaire installed on them as standard, so you don’t have to download anything or even open a web browser to play.
If you’re looking for a real challenge then learning a new language might be the most useful one. Not only are bilingual people more flexible, creative, open minded and resilient, they’re also paid more. So, if you’re looking for a bit of a life overhaul in the form of a game then Duolingo is a great place to start. This language learning app has been brilliantly gamified to make learning a language fun. You can achieve some great things in as little as five or ten minutes a day.
There are league tables that allow you to compete with your friends, or those from across the world too. If you d particularly well then you can earn gems which allow you to customise your avatar, keep a streak going for longer and even unlock bonus lessons. Of all of the language learning apps this one certainly feels the most like a game. It might not excel at the finer points of grammar and tenses, but for learning the basics it can’t be beaten.
Next up is a mathematical game that doesn’t involve much number crunching, but does involve stretching your pattern-finding and logic skills. Sudoku was invented as an alternative to crosswords, as in Japan their language doesn’t lend itself well to the crossword format. It took off immediately for its simple concept and how easy it is to modify the difficulty level.
A basic sudoku puzzle always consists of nine squares arranged in a 3×3 grid, each square filled with nine squares of its own. In every row, column, and square of nine boxes, there should be the numbers from one to nine. Easy sudoku puzzles will have plenty of the numbers filled in for you, whilst harder ones will leave more blank spaces. Take your time, check regularly for repeating numbers, and you’ll start having some success sooner than you might think.
Finally, there are all kinds of word games out there, but one that’s really taken the world by storm lately is Wordle. This game performed so impressively in 2022 that the rights to it were bought by the New York Times for a reported $1 million. The aim of the game is to guess the five letter word. In order to do that, you have a maximum of six guesses to get there. Insert a word into the grey boxes and if you get any letters right then they’ll turn green; get the letters right but in the wrong place and they’ll turn orange; get the letters wrong altogether and they’ll be greyed out. It’s a simple idea, but a good way to improve your vocabulary and boost those mental muscles.
Chess has long been thought of as the thinking man’s game and it’s pretty obvious why, it’s hard! Learning how the pieces move is the first step and the only place to start. However, don’t think it’s all over once that is out of the way. Once you know the rules, the aim (to capture the King) and how the pieces move, you then need to learn the strategy. People devote their whole lives to mastering the skill of chess, so there’s plenty of information out there, but it takes a while to digest.
Playing online is a great way to start out, as you can be matched either with bots or real players of a similar ability to you. This enables you to constantly challenge yourself, but also removes the possibility of meeting a grandmaster and being totally crushed! Getting in plenty of YouTube research and paying incredibly close attention to your opponent’s every move is the best way to get ahead in this devilishly difficult game.
Our final pick is a classic, Scrabble. This game was invented in the 1930s and has been a mainstay in most gaming collections ever since. It’s possible to play both on an actual board, or online, or even on your phone, so it’s an excellent one for parties and when you’re on the move. You begin by drawing seven letters and trying to create a word that scores the most points by laying them down on the board. Play takes turns between the players until there are no letters left in the bag.
Some letters that are more difficult to fit into words, such as X or Q will have a higher score attached to them, whilst letters like A or T will be worth just one point. Combining them carefully and making use of the way the board is layed out to create multiple words in one turn is always a good strategy. It’s also worth remembering that higher scoring letters are always useful, but so too is taking note of the multiplier squares on the board. Practice a few rounds online first and you’ll begin to work out your own strategies. Not only is this game great for language lovers, it’s also quite tactical too if you use the special squares right!