Once upon a time, computer gaming was simply sitting in front of a computer or television and playing a PC or video console game. However, now we are 17 years into the 21st century and the gaming industry has exploded in terms of both popularity and revenue. The popularity of gaming has meant that game developers have been given time and lots of money to develop a variety of wonderful games. Role playing games, shooters, strategy, simulators, these are just a few of the kind of games that developers are offering modern day gamers.

The 21st century has also witnessed the rise of esports – the hugely entertaining spectator sport. Popular games such as League of Legends, FIFA 17 and Call of Duty all have their own esports scenes. Hitherto, gaming has become such a large part of modern day society that the International Olympic Committee are discussing making esports a medal event in the 2024 Olympics in order to attract a younger generation of viewers.

Modern gaming also provides the gamer with health benefits. A variety of games offer the gamer benefits including; greater numerical skills, increased logic skills, an enhancement in reflexes and superior reasoning skills. Indeed, there are also now a variety of brain training games; games which have been created in order to improve mental skills such as; reasoning, logic, memory, attention to detail and flexibility, speed of processing and problem solving. Some brain training games have even claimed to help stave off the effects of Alzheimer’s – although this has never been proven.

These brain games are usually free to download and can be played on your smartphone. They’re great fun and easy to use. Most of the apps record your records over time and show you where you need to improve and what parts of the brain training you are best at.

So without further ado, here are five of the best brain games.

Luminosity

Probably one of the most popular brain training games, Luminosity has a large library of brain training games for the user to choose from. Different sections include; Speed Match, Robot Factory, Word Bubbles and the popular Trains of Thought. Luminosity provides the user with an overview of his or her stats over time. Every time you complete an exercise, Luminosity records your scores and puts them into a data bank. The five categories the app records you on are; speed, memory, attention, flexibility and problem solving. The app will also ask you your mood and how many hours of sleep you had the night before. It will then compare this data and display to you how many hours of sleep you need and what mood you are in when you’re at your best. You can also compare your own scores with other users from around the world

Positive Activity Jackpot

The Positive Activity Jackpot (PAJ) was designed in America to combat Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) for veterans returning home from wars. But the app also helps treat users with anxiety, depression and those at risk of suicide. The app helps people who have difficulty doing everyday things such as meeting new people. The app uses an interactive on arm bandit to find local things to do – ranging from outdoor activities to road trips, exercise and shopping – based on the phone user’s location. For anyone struggling to get themselves out of the house or out of bed in the morning, PAJ is a great tool to get the user back on his or her feet. The app also lets the user invite friends from their contact list to join in. The one arm bandit will show you what it recommends you do today but if you don’t like what it suggests you simply have to ‘pull the lever’ and let the apps jackpot function make the choice.

Personal Zen

An app that promises to reduce stress in 25 minutes. Zen App is said to reduce stress and anxiety by way of a simple game played a few times every week. The app was first developed by a team of neuroscientists and mobile developers and offers users ‘attention-bias modification training’. This training has been proven to reduce stress by a scientific study. The game itself seems pretty strange – you’re shown a grassy field. Two blue faces appear briefly – one happy and one angry, they then bury themselves in the grass. A line of taller grass then spurts out from where the happy face dug its whole and your job is to quickly trace that line with your finger. This is literally all the game is. The app recommends to play the game for 15-30 minutes, although many struggle to play any more than 10 minutes due to its repetitiveness, this is all about calming the brain and not becoming agitated. Can you last over 10 minutes? Download the app here.

Buddhify 2

My personal favourite, Buddhify 2 is an app that teaches mindfulness-based meditation through a number of guided lessons. The app includes guided meditation tracks that the user can listen to depending on what he or she is doing. The app will ask you ‘what you’re doing’. This could be anything from having a walk to working online or just waking up. Each ‘lesson’ ranges from 5 to 20 minutes so they’re easy to incorporate into your day even if you’re working a 9-5 job. Lessons are conducted by a majority of different teachers, all with calming, soothing voices. For anyone wanting to get into meditation, this app is an excellent tool.

Happify

With this app you can actually train your brain to be happier. Research suggests that some activities help build up your ability to combat stress and negative thoughts. According to the apps website, 86% of frequent users get happier within two months. The great Aristotle once said “happiness depends upon ourselves.” The app uses the fundamentals of positive psychology and encourages the user to take part in small activities and write things down. Essentially, it encourages the user to feel and really come to terms with his or her feelings and thoughts.

All of these apps are useful there is no denying that. But there are so many ‘brain train’ type apps on the market, so it can be hard to choose one. On the other hand, since there are so many, you should try out as many as possible until you find one that you really love.

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