Do certain games help keep the brain fit? Scientists are still exploring and debating the answer.
But that’s not slowing the growth of online companies and brick-and-mortar shops catering to the demand for mind-toys, puzzles and games that stimulate the mind.
SharpBrains, a market research firm, forecasted the global market for brain health applications to hit $6 billion in 2020, up from an estimated $1 billion last year.
Among the companies that SharpBrains tracks is Marbles: The Brain Store, a collection of specialty shops in nine states.
It’s a store that attracts a range of customers – from parents searching for “smart toys” for their elementary school-age kids to adults looking for ways to keep their memory sharp.
The store focuses on five areas: critical thinking, memory, coordination, visual perception and word skills.
An example for each category:
Critical thinking – Cubulus is a three-dimensional strategy game featuring a white cube with 27 slots and can be played by two or three players. The object is to be the first to form a square with four balls of your designated color.
Memory – Splickety Lit is a play on spoonerism. Each question has words or phrases that have their beginning consonants flipped. The challenge is to answer the question correctly in the mame sanner (same manner).
Coordination – Rock Me Archimedes includes a teeter-totter-like board, a special die and 28 marbles. Be the first player to get four marbles to your end of the board without causing it to touch the table.
Visual perception – Colorfall is the hybrid of dominoes with colorful mosaics. The wooden tiles come with 20 design cards with an image of the Eiffel Tower, garden gnome and more. Set up the tiles according to the design card, then knock down to reveal the image.
Word skills – Wordy Word is a team game in which players roll five 12-sided dice to reveal the letters for the round and add them to the corresponding boxes on their team’s dry-erase board. Both teams come up with five words using the same set of letters.
The science isn’t definitive on whether these give the mind an effective workout, but kids and grownups might have fun playing them anyway.