Two friends playing on phones

While stuck at home, it’s very likely that you’ll end up looking for new forms of entertainment, video games included. To the surprise of many, and maybe even yourself, these recreational activities could sharpen your mind in more ways than one.

Over the last few years, many studies have debunked the myth that they are detrimental to our mental abilities. As it turns out, playing video games has a strong connection to improving intelligence.

Here’s a list of 9 video games that can both cure your boredom and help you achieve some brain gains!

Improve Your Memory with The Witness

Most tests that evaluate our intelligence have sections that assess our short-term and long-term memory with puzzles. Video games can improve visual memory. A study suggests that when playing video games, we become more sensitive to visual cues.

Moreover, the same study shows that our visual memory accuracy is positively correlated with playing video games.

The Witness is a puzzle and adventure game with a breathtaking environment and a fantastic soundscape. In the game, you play an unnamed character lost on an island. The island has several sections surrounding a colossal mountain. This mountain is your end goal.

However, it’s not as simple as you think:

Despite your soothing surroundings, you’ll be racking your brain while solving puzzles to unlock areas that lead to your goal.

On top of that, you’ll find yourself uncovering all sorts of hidden pathways and hunting for collectibles that add even more depth to the story.

With that, The Witness is a delightful way to test your problem-solving skills and memory. If you’re looking for some stimulation while playing a beautifully crafted game, why not give it a try?

The Witness is available on:

  • iOS,
  • PC, and
  • Playstation4.

Test Your Quick-Wittedness on League of Legends

Couple playing video game

On the other side of the spectrum, there are multiplayer games that are more action-heavy and require quick-thinking. A study done at the University of York found that games like League of Legends (LoL) are a great way to assess a player’s IQ.

Multiplayer Online Battle Arena or MOBA games like LoL share the same characteristics as chess, in that the higher your IQ is, the better you perform.

You might be wondering:

How could a video game be so closely related to a traditional game like chess?

League of Legends is a team-based game where opposing sides battle to infiltrate the other team’s base. To win the game, your team must destroy the primary objective called the Nexus. Although the basic rules are pretty straightforward, there is a lot more to it.

You and your teammates must each select a role to play. Each position has a corresponding build that consists of the correct items and equipment. To maximize your character’s full potential, you’ll need to play strategically and complete your set of equipment or build, based on the situation.

Other than that, battles happen in real-time, and you’ll need fast reflexes and superb timing to cast abilities on your opponent.

Once you get the hang of it and tackle the learning curve, League of Legends can be great fun. 

Practice Strategic Thinking with Among Us

The pandemic has brought a lot of popularity to this game, so it is worth mentioning. Initially released in 2018, Among Us has gained popularity in the recent months. Perhaps we can attribute this trend to the fact that you can play with friends and loved ones, wherever you may be.

Now here’s the best part:

You get to betray them.

There are two modes in the game: crew member and the imposter.

  • As a crew member, you need to help your team complete tasks and figure out who the imposter is before you’re all killed off.
  • As an imposter, you need to sneak around and put into practice strategies not to get caught.

Games like Among Us require you to pay attention to your surroundings and adjust according to the situation. Although the game’s intent isn’t primarily brain training, a lot of cognitive abilities are involved. There are published findings that show how video games that utilize strategy have demonstrated the potential to improve brain function, especially in older adults.

If you’re looking for some casual fun, why don’t you invite your friends and play Among Us?

Spatial Intelligence in Animal Crossing

Animal Crossing game
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Nowadays, the beauty of many games is that they are three-dimensional. In these 3-D games, players are allowed to immerse themselves in the environments fully.

One neat feature in Animal Crossing: New Horizons is terraforming, which allows you to modify and redesign your island’s landscape. This freedom to transform your surroundings gets your creative juices flowing and enables you to be more detail-oriented.

Paying attention to these details also requires quite a bit of memory. The University of California Irvine conducted a study that tested the ability to form memories in gaming and non-gaming students.

In the test, students were shown a series of pictures. These pictures contained images of the same object, some precisely alike, and others with slight differences from the original item. After this, they were asked to categorize the photos.

The results?

Students who were assigned a 3-D video game had significantly better scores after playing, while the students with 2-D video games did not have any improvement.

Craig Stark, the person behind the study, says that most games like Animal Crossing aren’t created specifically to stimulate the brain. Most games employ a lot of our cognitive processes because they are crafted for fully-immersive gameplay.

Beyond terraforming, Animal Crossing: New Horizons gives you just that. Go check it out!

Get Creative with Minecraft

Sandbox games have become quite popular as it allows players to utilize their creativity extensively. As implied in the name, these games will enable you to play around with materials to create new objects or formations.

Minecraft is one of the most popular sandbox games. It gives players limitless options with all sorts of building blocks while exploring an infinite world. On top of allowing you to explore an immersive 3-D environment, you also learn to memorize crafting recipes and material combinations.

A player can forage or hunt for materials, but they can also build a self-sustaining farm. Some players even go big and establish cities with villagers working to contribute to the micro-economy. It’s quite interesting, and, as we said, the possibilities are endless!


One study has shown that children who play video games also perform well when it comes to creative activities such as drawing. The more they play, the better they are at creative outlets. Whether they play an action or simulation game didn’t matter — there is still a positive correlation to creativity.

So think about it…

The study refers to most, if not all, video games that are not necessarily on the artistic side. But the premise of Minecraft targets that part of your brain. So if you’re looking for a game that stimulates your creativity, look no further! Minecraft might just be the game for you.

Practice Your Decision Making Skills with Beyond: Two Souls

Woman looking at phone

Beyond: Two Souls is an award-winning interactive, action-adventure game published by Sony Computer Entertainment. Just as you would treat blockbuster movies, we won’t spoil much since it might ruin the fun. However, we’ll give you a brief background on the gameplay and plot.

In the game, you primarily play the character Jodie, who happens to have a psychic connection with an entity named Aiden. Throughout the game, you will be compelled to make decisions that will eventually affect the outcome of the game.

What does this have to do with getting smarter?

Good question.

Studies have shown that interactive video games can improve decision-making. Paired with some form of training or other resources that may help you, your ability can improve by reducing biased judgments.

Decision making is a fundamental cognitive process that plays a crucial role in many aspects of our lives. In almost any given situation, you make decisions by mapping out scenarios and consequences. These decisions are also made based on previous experiences.

Decision making requires a lot of complex processes in your head, whether you’re aware of it or not. When you reduce any biases that cloud your judgment, you also avoid inevitable consequences.

Why not try out your decision-making skills with a great game like Beyond: Two Souls?

Sharpen Your Focus with Bejeweled 3

Bejeweled is a casual tile-matching game that has been around since 2010. The gameplay is pretty straightforward. Players have to match gems to form combinations that give them points. The game can go on as long as you can move tiles around. Once you run out of moves, you lose the game.

Now, at first glance, games like Bejeweled may seem like you can play it mindlessly. After all, you only need to swap and match colorful jewels and gems. A lot of people tend to veer away from the game because of this.

Here’s the thing…

This isn’t the case.

One study has shown that young adults who played casual games like Bejewelled felt sharper and found that their memory had improved. The participants in the survey also included older adults. Their responses showed that they had more confidence in their mental abilities and abilities to perform timed tasks.

Other than memory, the game allowed them to see patterns better and enhanced their focus and attention.

These are all processes that actively train your brain. If you happen to play a game like Bejeweled, don’t pay attention the next time someone calls it an idle game!

Test Your Reflexes with Counter Strike: Global Offensive

Woman with gaming controller

First-person shooting games like Counter Strike: Global Offensive (or in short, CS:GO) get a bad rap for being too violent. It might even come off as another mindless game, except this time it’s one for the trigger-happy.

It turns out, there are benefits to it.

Because a game of CS:GO can be quick-paced, players need to have considerably fast reflexes. Moreover, and contrary to what many believe, a lot of strategy and thinking is involved. After all, you can’t blindly rush into battle without a second thought.

Of course, it’s not like a real-life risk that involves your well-being. However, there are studies where action-game players demonstrate enhanced spatial awareness and attentional control.

Games like CS:GO can be quite chaotic, with plenty of distractions that could get you killed in-game. Action-game players happen to display the increased ability to zero in on a target despite these distractions.

What are you waiting for? Get your adrenaline running all while using your head by giving CS:GO a shot.

Learn Some Practical Skills in Stardew Valley

Getting smarter also involves attaining new practical skills that can be applied in our daily lives. It might not seem to be the case on the surface, but Stardew Valley has the potential to teach you a great deal about management.

Farming games have been around for quite a while, but the independently developed Stardew Valley skyrocketed into fame because of its well-crafted storyline and delightful visuals. The game involves starting from scratch and building a self-sustaining farm from the ground up.

Throughout the gameplay, players will utilize a lot of skills that involve managing finances and profits. A lot of time management is involved as well, since the game days are short and putting your character to bed is necessary.

Some people learn better with involvement, so learning and applying these skills might help outside the game.

Of course, you can also play casually and not care too much about these things!

We’re pretty sure the game developers didn’t intend to make the game a learning experience. After all, Stardew Valley is a game meant to be appreciated for its immersive story and rustic charm!

Get Your Game On!

So there you have it!

Other forms of entertainment like movies can stimulate the brain, but there’s also nothing like getting hands-on with video games. We hope you found the video game that suits your taste and learned a thing or two along the way.

Good luck, and have fun!