The Game Design and Concept Behind Different Brain Games

Riddles, crosswords, math game reviews , 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.

Raging on the internet about how games are being “dumbed” down and simplified is all the… erm.. rage these days.

Hordes of “hardcore” gamers flock to gaming forums and mourn the death of games that don’t hold the players hand and cannot be completed in 7-10 hours of playing.

They say that the “console kids” of today, with their aversion for anything challenging has ruined game design and turned most modern games into;
“click this button to win. No, not that button, over here. Look, this button he… Never mind, I’ll do it for you *click*”.

I am going to confess something to you. I *like* that games have become more casual friendly and that they do a better job of introducing the player to game mechanics and how everything works in the game.

I am almost 30 years old and have been playing games since I was 5 (that was on a C64, talk about a non-user friendly machine).

I have a full time job and a girl friend and I have lots of real life obligations that means I cannot spend anywhere close to the amount of time playing video games that I could (and did) when I was a kid or teenager.

Conversely, I have a lot more money to spend than I did as a kid, so buying/renting new games is much less of an issue for me, than it was 15-20 years ago.

If I am lucky I will have maybe an hour or two in the evening on weekdays and maybe two or three hours in the weekend that I can use for playing games.

That gives me somewhere around maybe 10-12 hours of gaming a week on average.

Having been a video game aficionado since before I could read, I really love video games and I generally want to try out many different games, even if they are not exactly in my normal wheelhouse genre.

During a week I can easily play at least 3-4 different games, especially during a “high” season of releases like Q4 that we have just entered now.

Back in the early 90’s your game would be considered short if it could be completed in less than maybe 20-25 hours.

I remember the outcry from the gaming community when “Max Payne” launched as one of the first “Triple A” games with a sub 10 hour long campaign.
Gamers simply did not feel that they were getting enough bang for their buck.

I also remember playing X-Com: UFO defense (Which *is* a great game, no argument) and spending at least 10-15 hours messing around before I got enough of a grasp of the game mechanics to not get my butt kicked immediately by the first alien invaders that dropped by.

With my time (and, I am sure, this is the situation for many “older” gamers that have grown up and find their calendars booked with grocery shopping, business meetings and dinner with the in-laws) now being such a scarce resource, I can simply no longer persuade myself to devote time into a game that keeps knowledge of how to play it properly, a well kept secret.

I don’t want to play “National Treasure” with the game controls and look for obscure clues that make me go “oh, maybe I need to do this then?” *splat* “No, guess not”.

This goes doubly if the game is also one that promises (threatens?) to use up 20+ hours of my time to complete.

If I’m playing a game with a story (and those are usually the games I prefer) then I really want to see that story through to the end, and knowing it’s going to take me several months of gaming to do that is actually a daunting proposition to me.

So I am perfectly happy with a campaign that I can complete in 6-8 hours.

I like a game that checkpoints my progress every 10 minutes, so I don’t have to replay a one hour section of the game because I screwed up (potentially multiple times, depending on how tough the save system is on you).

Most of all, I like that I can *relax* when I’m playing a game and not stress out in frustration or thinking that I just want to get it done so I can move on to the next game.

And my feeling of self loathing, but that’s another article

To the people that feels that this is the largest gaming disaster since the Nintendo Wii, I can only say; Don’t worry guys, there will always be a segment of the market that enjoys hugely complex and long games.

Certain people will make time in their lives for a game that *demands* the full and utter attention of the gamer for the duration of its 50+ hours of gameplay.

And some will be satisfied with simply picking up a single game every 6-8 months and just play that religiously, never so much as glancing at what else is out there for them to play.

The success of games like Dark Souls is a testament to this.

As for me, I am looking forward to playing (and completing) several great games in the next few months, such as Gears of War 3, Battlefield 3 and Driver: San Francisco.

And you know what?

I may even set the difficulty to easy for some of them!

Passionate gamer and science fiction lover.

With more than 25 years spent playing video games and reading and watching Sci-fi, these are subjects that are very close to my heart.

I write reviews, opinion pieces and stuff that is just meant to put a smile on your face.

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published.