How video games can exercise your brain

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So here is a post dedicated to how video games have actually helped boosted mental skills for different age cycles. I’ll also round it up by recommendinga puzzle game which actually works in this category.

Brain games on children

So according to Olson, video games have helped children with brain development.

“When my son was a young adolescent, I watched him play Legend of Zeldagames. He had to search, negotiate, plan, and try different approaches to advance.

Video games don’t have to be labeled “educational” to help children learn to make decisions, use strategies, anticipate consequences and express their personalities.”

Just like a mouse in a maze, video games act as a sort of simple brain exercises that teach children how to make strategic decisions and solve interesting problems. The game she mentioned, ‘Legend of Zelda’ is an award winning fantasy roleplaying video game which combines the best elements of fantasy games with interesting puzzle solving mechanics. The last installment I played in the franchise was a game called Spirit Tracks, where you play as an aspiring hero who travels across the world on a magical train defeating evil creatures in different elemental areas. But to get to these monsters, you have to platform and make your way there by doing life-sized puzzles to get to it.

Children can learn from these games and it teaches valuable application skills which could be used in real life situations.

Source article: http://www.parents.com/kids/development/benefits-of-video-games/

Reduces mental decline in older people

So earlier this year in May a study by University of Iowa shows that video games have the ability to restore mental processing speeds in older people.

“Wolinsky and colleagues separated 681 generally healthy medical patients in Iowa into four groups—each further separated into those 50 to 64 years of age and those over age 65. One group was given computerized crossword puzzles, while three other groups were exposed to a video game called “Road Tour,” (since renamed “Double Decision”), marketed by Posit Science Corp.

The goal, naturally, is to increase the user’s mental speed and agility at identifying the vehicle symbol and picking out the road sign from the constellation of distractors (which are rabbits, by the way).”

I am not very familiar with this game but we can see that the fast paced nature of a variety of puzzle games have the potential to boost mental agility and reaction speeds. This study is actually important because improving mental speeds can actually reduce the effects of natural aging.

“One widely accepted benefit is widening a person’s field of view. “As we get older, our visual field collapses on us,” Wolinsky explains. “We get tunnel vision. It’s a normal functioning of aging. This helps to explain why most accidents happen at intersections because older folks are looking straight ahead and are less aware of peripherals.””

Source article: http://now.uiowa.edu/2013/03/want-slow-mental-decay-play-video-game

Here is a game which is both celebrated by parents and children for mixing really good puzzle challenges with an interesting narrative plot.

The Professor Layton series

Professor Layton is a handheld game which follows Professor Layton in six different stories. Anyone of them are good and basically follows Professor Layton and his trusty student and sidekick Luke as they stumble onto a mystery and now it is your job to find clues and to solve locally designed puzzles which get progressively difficult. The latest game in this franchise is Professor Layton vs Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney which is a crossover puzzle adventure game that combines the puzzle solving elements in Layton with detective elements from the Ace Attorney series. I am a avid fan of the Ace Attorney saga as it really makes the player think about inconsistencies in ideas and packs a very colorful and elaborate story to engage the player.

If you have any other recommendations for good brain games, please leave a comment here, on Facebook or tweet me up on Twitter!

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