The Game Design and Concept Behind Different Brain Games

Riddles, crosswords, math games, quizzes, memory or other visual games – knowledge games or more often known as brain games enjoy popularity among various players around the world on all kinds of platforms. From Brain Age on Nintendo DS, Brain Challenge for iPhone, Lumosity.com with its online platform or online games like Brain Buddies on Facebook – all these games train you brain abilities in a fun and engaging way.

The games present a kind of exercise for the brain, to stay fit and exercise your brain with mental training in various small games. It is commonly known that the human brain needs mental stimulation to stay fit and healthy. Research has proven that reading out loud or performing simple math calculations are an efficient way to extend your mental capabilities. The human brain needs constant training. But many people do not find the time or are not willing to “go back to school” and perform simple calculations again. Brain games can present a valuable and fun alternative to going back to school.

But to be honest this mental training aspect is only secondary when playing a great brain game. They are actually FUN and most of the time pretty addictive. And the best thing about these games definitely is they are ideal to challenge your friends and show them how smart you really are. What proves your knowledge better than a high score in your favorite game?

Most games let you chose categories in which you can compete in different mini games. Categories might be visual, memorize, math calculations or logical games. In visual games you have to order or choose the right patterns according to the shape, color or size of objects. Memory games work on the same mechanics as the classic game you’ll likely have played as a kid – remember where objects are hidden or sometimes remember a certain sequence of objects. Calculation games are often disguised with amazing game design or a goal the player can easier relate to – for example balancing a scale. Logical games revolve around completing the right pattern, selecting the match-able items or solving other small riddles. Many games also offer word related games, like a crossword puzzle or scrabble like games.

A little less serious compared to the ones in other networks, but still similar effective mental training are social brain games on Facebook like the before mentioned. Games on social networks such as Facebook can utilize this platform in a perfect way, because compared to console or iPhone games they generally feature a challenge with your friends additionally to the comparison of your “brain size”.

The competition with your friends or sometimes even in a tournament with other unknown players is the ideal way to connect the game and its players in order to build retention. A survey among online gamers has shown that the challenge with your friends is the highest incentive to drive players back into the games. Popular examples on Facebook show that certain mind games managed to have a highly engaged group of people over the period of several years. Fans of the game work out new strategies together to improve their scores and build communities with own tournaments and world ranking.

But the downside of social brain games is that their retention rate of players is low, which means many new subscribers leave after a short period. While you have the above mentioned brain game fans that will play the game for a long time and still enjoy it, you can easily witness on statistics websites like Appdata.com that most users will leave the social games in a short period of time.

There can be two different reasons identified: the first one is that a percentage of users get scared away in the beginning by the game design of brain games. For most people this kind of game mechanics is not appealing or they are not willing to dive deeper into the gameplay and learn the fun part about it.

The second reason is that they usually consist of different mini games. The majority that enjoys playing these mini games but they may get bored after a while. Other social games offer either an endless extendable gameplay (FarmVille) or the ability for players to improve their skills in one type of game mechanics (Bejeweled). For brain games the player needs to master different kinds of mini games, so they can’t focus on one game mechanic.

To fight against the drop in users there are few actions which can be taken. Famous games like Tetris Battle or Zuma Blitz have shown that the model of a weekly challenge is an effective way to get loyal players. By resetting the scores once a week, players get a new incentive to re-play the same game again and again to rank first among their friends. Brain games could also use these methods on Facebook. Furthermore many social games now feature a worldwide ranking or ranking by countries. If this mechanic is implemented in the right way (anti-cheat protection) challenges can be organized easily and this will help the game to keep its players for longer time.

If you want to know more, check out the listed mind games and expand your mental power.

Gregor Plath is working and living in Western China. He is a passionate brain games player.

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