Games can be more than just fun time-wasters. The right game can also stimulate your brain and teach you problem-solving and logic skills. These types of games, whether they be physical board games, online games, or video games, can allow you to think outside the box and strengthen your mind when it comes to thinking several steps ahead. The following is a list of four puzzle games across different media that, with enough practice, can improve your critical thinking skills and sharpen your mind.
The classic computer game about numbers and bombs, Minesweeper is a great way to teach yourself to analyze a board and think carefully before making your move. The object of the game is to clear the board of deadly mines by deducing where each mine is placed. By left-clicking a square on the board, you will be given numbers that will indicate how close you can find a nearby mine. Right-click a square where you suspect a mine is hidden to flag it; flag all mines to win the game. The game can be played at varying difficulty levels, and once you have mastered the basics, you will make it your personal goal to clear each round as fast as possible. This game will teach you pattern recognition and reasoning, and the better you get at understanding the patterns, the quicker you will be able to solve deduction-based problems.
Mancala is an ancient two-player board game suspected to date back thousands of years. It is typically played with marbles or stones on a board with twelve pits. As dozens of games with this board exist, there is no single officially-trademarked game of mancala, though the goals of a typical game usually tend to be the same: capture your opponent’s pieces. If you do not have access to an official mancala board, you can make your own board with household items like an empty egg carton and bowls. A commonly-played version of mancala requires each pit in the board be filled with four pieces, in which the players take turns gathering pieces. Mancala is a game about strategy, and is great for teaching players to visualize their techniques and think several steps ahead.
Picross, also known as a nonogram, is a single-player logic-based grid puzzle. The game can be played digitally or on paper, and, similar to sudoku, involves filling in a grid with deduction skills. The player is given an empty grid in which a picture must be uncovered by filling in blank squares as instructed by a series of numbers on the left side and the top side of the panel. You are required to reason which squares can be filled based on the numbers given, and if completed successfully, you will have filled in a picture. This game is another example of a logic puzzle that teaches you to analyze the board and make calculated moves based on what information is given to you. Once you understand the basics of how the game works, you will find it difficult to stop playing until you have completed a board, as the puzzle will test your mental strength and will satisfy you by filling in the blanks.
A widely-known strategy board game, chess is one of the quintessential games about teaching how to strategize and plan moves accordingly. Understanding the rules of the game and the basics of how each piece moves is only the first step, as chess can take years to master. However, you will find very few logic puzzles that will challenge your mind in quite the same way. Take your time to strategize and think, and you will be fully immersed. Whether playing against a partner or just examining the board alone to plan your moves, chess is great at building critical thinking skills.
Of course, these four games are fun. However, you will find that not only are they entertaining, they are also intellectually stimulating and can improve your thinking skills. Enjoy!