Online Games That Can Help You Improve Your Cognitive Skills

By 29 March, 2021

Online gaming is a thriving industry in Latin America, and it’s easy to see why. Games are not only fun and a great way to waste time, but also, in many cases, great for our brains.

If a game makes it necessary for us to use our cognitive functions in rapid, simultaneous and/or planned succession, it’s a game that will contribute towards developing or improving our cognitive skills. Good examples of this are to play solitaire, chess or poker.

Technically speaking, that means almost any game, be it online or offline, can and will sharpen our cognitive abilities in one way or another. However, there are vast differences between how games in general can affect the brain’s cognitive progress. These differences are based on multiple factors such as:

  • Which brain functions are activated the most while playing the game?
  • How many cognitive functions are required in rapid succession or simultaneously while playing the particular game?
  • To what degree are those brain functions exercised during the game?
  • How soon is a player likely to reach a plateau where the cognitive improvement will become stagnant?

With these factors in mind, let’s now look at some of the best online games that can challenge and develop your mind to a better version of itself.

Online Chess

The platform or the title matters very little in this regard, as long as it has a stable server and a good number of players available to play with. Even the Facebook chess app is more than capable of delivering the same cognitive boosts that chess has been associated with for thousands of years. The online medium simply elevates the experience to a level where players are no longer just limited to friends, colleagues and family members.

We can test our cognitive abilities against a virtually infinite number of players from any and all sections of the connected world. What makes online chess significantly better than regular offline chess is this very element of being pitted against players with varying strategies, experience, and intellect. Very few games can sharpen the mind better than online chess, which constantly works towards improving our working memory, fluid intelligence, and the ability to maintain focus for increasingly longer periods of time.

Online Poker

Poker is widely acclaimed as one of the most strategic card games in existence, as well as being one of the most intellectually and emotionally demanding games overall. Possible benefits may differ from person to person, but nearly everyone who plays poker on a regular basis, have been found to have improved their:

  • Ability to assess a situation and associated risk vs. reward scenarios
  • Ability to assess people from emotional and/or habitual activities
  • Ability to tell lies from the truth, aka, calling a bluff
  • Ability to think strategically and change strategies in real-time
  • Brain’s capacity to deter Alzheimer’s disease
  • Overall emotional intelligence
  • Memory and recall abilities
  • Self-control: the poker face is no joke to pull off
  • Social skills

Now, what makes online poker better than offline poker in some ways is the same reason why online chess is a better option than offline chess.

Online poker can help improve your cognitive function by stretching your little grey cells. Instead of testing your intellect with the same poker friends that you play with every other weekend, this website has a blog post to help you find live/video poker games. Even if you have never played poker before, the site is full of resources that will help you to first learn, and then master the game. In the process, you will develop a sharper brain with more attuned cognitive abilities than before.

Brain Wars

To keep the list fresh and varied, let’s take a look at something that’s more modern and truly unique. Unlike the online versions of the previous two, Brain Wars is an app-only option for smartphones. What makes Brain Wars one of the best PvP applications to improve our cognitive functions is its design itself. Thegame has been exclusively developed as a way to let people compete with each other over the internet while improving their brain functions while doing so. It is popular with users around the world, so you can connect with your fellow Latin Americans or find someone further afield to pit your wits against.

It’s true that those simplistic brain teasers are nowhere near as complex or strategic as online poker or chess can be, but they do tease the brain and improve it in the process. The simplicity of the puzzles helps make them accessible to anyone and everyone, but it’s the competitive factor that adds the real challenge in Brain Wars. If you can slip past the microtransactions and rely mainly on your wits to get you through, you might be surprised at how much faster your brain begins to work in general after a few weeks of regular playing. Also, the simple challenges test and sharpen the brain from multiple aspects, rather than letting it sit idly and become one-directional.

Do Online Games Offer the Most Challenge to Our Brains?

There isn’t a universal answer to this question, given that there are both offline and online games from multiple genres, which do help in improving our cognitive abilities. Some are better than others, meaning that certain online games can indeed be more beneficial for cognitive growth than certain offline games, but the same can be said about offline games as well. Games like The Witness or The Talos Principle do not require an internet connection, but they are extremely demanding on the brain, nonetheless.

Where online games do have a leg up on offline games though, is the human intelligence factor. The unique advantage of PvP online games in terms of taxing and improving our cognitive functions is the fact that it allows us to go against other intelligent human beings sitting on the other side of the computer or smartphone. A puzzle game such as the ones mentioned earlier can only offer pre-set/set-piece challenges, whereas in a high-stakes card game or in a competitive shooter, our brain function and coordination are tested in real-time against real human beings.

In conclusion, it would be safe to state that both online games and offline games have a lot of common benefits to offer, but online games have the potential to be even more fruitful for improved brain function. With that understanding in mind, maybe try some of the most demanding and enjoyable games online, which are known to improve the cognitive abilities of the players. If you’re one of the many Latin Americans that love playing online games, then you should consider using them to improve your cognitive skills.

Follow Sounds and Colours: Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Mixcloud / Soundcloud / Bandcamp

Subscribe to the Sounds and Colours Newsletter for regular updates, news and competitions bringing the best of Latin American culture direct to your Inbox.