Technology has greatly changed the nature of gaming. Hundreds of years ago, the focus was on mental discipline and entertainment via card games and board games. Today, the digitization of games and rollout of advancing technology, from AR to advanced consoles, has switched the emphasis toward quick reaction times and rote practice.
In other words, a gamer today can expect to improve their skills by logging tons of hours of play, mastering speed and dexterity of physical controls with their fingers, and knowing the ins and outs of their favorite title’s strategy. From Call of Duty to League of Legends, players have to be swift, accurate, and strategic.
But what about those gaming skills from yore? Above, we mentioned that board games and card games require mental discipline. For example, a game like poker includes dozens of basic poker terms that players have to study, memorize, and then forecast in a game. They need to know which strategies to employ at which point in the game. They also need to be able to read other players and know when it’s a good idea to bluff.
Poker requires players to use logical and analytical thinking, intuition, and rote memory if they want to succeed. In other words, it touches on a variety of skill sets—and these challenges have only proved fruitful for players. This begs the question… is there an equivalent when it comes to video games?
Kerbal Space Program
You don’t have to know rocket science to succeed in Kerbal Space Program… but it helps a lot. In this game, players have to build a spacecraft that will successfully launch them into space without killing anyone in the process.
The game includes an insane amount of detail as they build out their craft. Along the way, they’ll start to get the hang of things to create better and faster spaceships. By the end of their journey, they’ll know how the basics of rocket science and astrophysics.
You can probably imagine the stakes in this game: use speech to diffuse an explosive device before it detonates. But that simple mission isn’t nearly as straightforward as it sounds.
Players have to work together without a single lapse in concentration in order to communicate complex instructions on diffusion… all without a bomb to look at. In this case, Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes doesn’t just push a single gamer toward genius-level thinking. It requires a whole group to join in.
Baba Is You
What looks to be a cute and bunny-filled adventure puzzle game quickly turns into a puzzle-survival adventure. Baba Is You isn’t a survival game at all—but players have to draw on almost every mental faculty they have to solve these 2D challenges and keep advancing.
Both highly cute and deeply infuriating, Baba Is You will test gamers in the fields of memory, analytical thinking, and pure creativity if they want to advance to the next level. Just don’t expect a casual romp when you log in.
You may have heard of EVE Online before—and you’re probably wondering how it ended up on this list. This MMO game offers an incredible range of quests and adventures. So, where’s the mental stimulus?
Though an open-world MMO, EVE Online can be described as a ‘spreadsheet simulator’. That’s because players have to make micro-decisions on just about everything, navigating complex menus that include long lists of numbers and icons just to make their next move.
What does comedic-fantasy writer Terry Pratchett have in common with video games? Not much, aside from a spunky adaptation of his Discworld works. In Discworld, gamers are challenged to think outside the box… specifically, in a way that Pratchett might have.
That means that players have to solve puzzles and complete tasks in non-linear and nonsensical ways. For example, to find an object, they might need access to a time machine to change the past in order to ensure that the object ends up in a certain place. And that’s just the start of the game’s mind-bending mechanics.