The Playstation 4 sold 2.1 million units in two weeks. In its first week on the shelf, 1 million Xbox One consoles were sold , reports ITWorld, which reports on IT news and breaking technology stories. These big box units are formidable but the mobile gaming landscape is even more eye-opening. Mobile games dominate, where 70-80% of all mobile downloads are games. The mobile gaming industry is expected to reach 54 billion by 2015, according to research from Geekaphone, an online resource for the mobile industry.

Games are a massive and overwhelming market, and they are potentially making us all smarter. As a parent, we hear many cries of violent video games. But perhaps steering children, and yourself, to certain games will benefit the most important letter—the grades.

How Do Games Make Us Smarter?

The Entertainment Software Association records that 58% of Americans play games on a daily basis. The Prism Casino blog confirms that 10 million active users play hidden object games actively (which is at least once a week). Popular hidden object games, such as Gardens of Time, register 8.3 million active users. Mystery Manor is far behind with 1.7 million.

Now, there have been reports of increased mental flexibility from video game playing. One substantiated report, from PLOS One, a peer-reviewed scientific journal published by the Public Library of Science, confirms that therapid switching between multiple points of loaded information and sources actually increases cognitive flexibility. Of course, this brings up a valuable question.

What is Cognitive Flexibility?

According to the University of Southern Alabama, cognitive flexibility is the ability to restructure information in multiple ways depending on the situation. In other words, this could translate to quick-wittedness, but it also stresses long-term cognitive development and the flexing of one’s ability to understand a situation.

The National Institute of Health published a study that establishes that gamers who play actively eight to 19 consecutive days will experience higher scores of fluid intelligence. This is another understanding of cognitive flexibility.

What Games Make You Smarter?, a healthy lifestyle magazine, reaffirms that adults who mentally engage in brain-friendly video games have a 63% less likely chance of developing dementia. With all this talk about cognitive flexibility in children and adults, what games are reported to accomplish this task? Below are some of the most popular and noteworthy titles in the mobile industry.

StarCraft: Those who played StarCraft for 40 hours took a cognitive test and outranked the other parties. Notably, another group played the popular game, the Sims, for 40 hours. StarCraft relies on creating, organizing and deploying real-time strategies to best an army. The Sims consists of dressing up characters and watching them interact. StarCraft players bested Sims players in cognitive flexibility by a substantial margin, as reported in Psychology Today.

Blocks: This mobile game flexes one’s logic. It consists of the players need to slide an orange block out of the way of gray blocks in a certain number of moves. It sounds simple, but its highly addictive nature is paying off in the brain department.

How About Games for the Parents?

Many brain enhancing games barely qualify as games in comparison to Angry Birds and other popular game apps for teenagers and kids. But resources such as the personalized brain program, Luminosity, features a slew of mini-game type entities that are proven to enhance brain activity. suggests the Name Your Color game where individuals read the color a word is printed in. Appropriately, word itself is not the same as the color.



Phil Silva

Phil is a video game designer from Seattle.