The expansion of the internet has made it easy to find everything that you want online.
Add to that the rapid development of gaming technology and you have the perfect combination for hours of entertainment and mental stimulation.
The old stereotype of gamers being lazy has been thoroughly debunked: in fact, playing computer games can have huge benefits for your mental wellbeing and other aspects of your life.
In-game chat functions can help you to stay connected with friends and families, especially those who you don’t get to see regularly.
Depending on which game you choose, it can also exercise your brain and keep it healthy and working properly.
Modern games are packed full of challenges that will develop your skills in decision-making and problem-solving, as well as improving your reaction times and visual processing abilities.
But how do you know which game to choose?
Take a look at our brief guide for some ideas to help you keep your brain in top condition.
1) Online Chess
Whether played in real life or through one of the many online servers, chess is a traditional game that benefits your brain in so many ways.
While the rules are easy to pick up, it can take people years to master the complex strategies, so learning to play can be a great hobby to invest in.
The idea of the game is to move your pieces around the board until you have pinned your opponent’s king into a position where it cannot move.
To do this requires a great amount of analytical though: you must try to predict your opponent’s plan from their moves, whilst also working out what your own strategy is.
Chess requires complete focus, improving your concentration skills, and is unique as a game that exercises both the left and right sides of your brain at once.
Another game that requires you to analyze your opponent’s position is blackjack. The aim of the game is to have a combination of cards which total as close to 21 as possible, without going over.
You also need to have a higher score than the dealer. Everyone is dealt with one face-up card and one face-down card and takes it, in turn, to ask for further face-up cards if they want more.
By assessing other player’s behavior, you can try and work out what their private card is, and therefore what their total could be; and important piece of information in deciding what your play should be.
Blackjack is quick to play and easy to learn. Playing free online blackjack will help to develop your ability to read and predict situations.
3) First Person Shooters
There are so many titles that fall into this category that it would be unfair to pick just one. Popular recent releases include Titanfall 2, Call of Duty Modern Warfare, and Overwatch.
First Person Shooters (fps) tend to be more popular with younger generations and the amount of violence may put some people off – these are shooting games after all.
However, studies have shown that they can be incredibly beneficial for improving vision, especially peripheral vision, and increasing reaction times and our ability to quickly process decisions.
Unlike other problem-solving games, which can have a slow pace and allow the player to take their time thinking through decisions – FPS games throw a lot of information at the player in a short space of time.
Enemies appear on the screen from all directions, bombs are thrown at you, and you have to dodge from cover to cover to avoid getting hit.
All of this happens very quickly and helps improve your cognitive flexibility – how well you can think about different things at once.
Anyone with a high-pressure or busy job will recognize the importance of being able to think on your feet, and fps video games can help you get better at this.
4) Online Crosswords
Online games can also help you relax. If your job is stressful, the last thing you want to do when you get home is to subject your brain to more of the same kind of thinking.
Crosswords can be a wonderful way to relax and unwind. Unlike fast-paced games, they only require you to focus on one thing at a time, allowing the left side of your brain to take a break. They can also improve your vocabulary and general knowledge.
Online crosswords have many advantages over paper puzzles, especially if you are new to the hobby.
It’s easier to erase incorrect answers and try several words before finding the one that fits best.
As online crosswords are interactive, many also have a hint function that will give you extra clues for the word, reveal a few letters, or even show you the entire word if you are completely stumped. This removes the frustration of coming up against a clue you can’t solve.
Online games help you to practice so many key skills which can then be used in an everyday environment.
From how to relax to improving your focus and concentration, speeding up your ability to think quickly to learning how to plan and prepare several steps in advance. What a great way to have some fun while also learning something new and valuable.