Because you’ll have them with you wherever you are, this makes them a great way of productively wasting those five and ten-minute periods of inactivity that would otherwise lead to you checking Facebook. Again.
Here are some of our favourites:
‘Brain training’ is a generic term for any game or app designed to stimulate and train your brain. The best ones aren’t just fun, they also measure your brain age and so enable you to see how you’re progressing.
Ones to look out for include:
- Elevate, which offers 35 different training activities that enable you to focus on the areas you want to develop by choosing the appropriate activity. Like Lumosity (below), it is available for both Apple iOS and Google Android.
- Lumosity takes an initial baseline and then gives you a daily mental workout that increases in difficulty as your cognitive ability improves. You can either subscribe to gain access to the full range of games or play one game a day for free.
- Eidetic aims to improve your memory, which will help you remember where you’ve parked the car or left your house keys... Unlike the first two apps, it is only available for iPad and iPhone, so dedicated Android users won’t be able to use it.
Crosswords are a well-established way of maintaining your mental acuity, and there are a large number of free crossword apps available for all platforms. Simply Google ‘free crossword apps’ to find one that you like the look of and you’ll be completing your first within minutes!
If you have a competitive nature then you might like to take a look at Crossly though. You play against an opponent with the aim of earning - and stealing - points from them as the game progresses.
Sudoku is the mathematical equivalent of a crossword and there are a similarly large number of apps that will enable you to play for free, no matter how hard you like your challenges.
Sudoku.org also has a list of online competitions that you can enter, enabling you to add a social and competitive element to what is traditionally a solitary pastime.
Bridge, and other multi-player card games
Online card games provide a vital link to the outside world for anyone who cannot get to a weekly card game in person.
Bridge players might enjoy Arkadium, which pits you against a virtual player, while Bridgebase allows you to play against real people rather than a computer.
Of course, there are websites that cater for every card game you can possibly imagine but unless you have money to burn I’d steer clear of the poker games…
Ever since IBM’s Deep Blue computer beat the World Chess Champion Garry Kasparov in 1997, computer-based playing has been a staple of the chess world.
Google will reveal dozens of websites that offer you the chance to play against either a virtual or a real opponent. Either option will conclusively demonstrate that unconsciously losing several hours isn’t limited to the world of science fiction.
If you prefer words to numbers, then there are plenty of options out there for you to indulge your passion. One of my favourite websites is Braingle, which offers a huge range of word-based games, trivia quizzes, and mental challenges.
However, the one both my wife and I turn to constantly is Word Scramble. It looks fiendishly simple but is surprisingly complex and addictive and we’ve wasted hours of our lives playing it.
Our children started playing it when they were about eight-years-old too, so it’s suitable for all ages – just don’t blame me when you become hooked!
Do you have a favourite computer game that you think helps keep you sharp? If so, we’d love to hear from you!