My family played a lot of card games and board games when I was a kid. In fact it was a Friday night ritual to play cribbage, hearts, or progressive rummy. Later, when I was first married and then when the kids were young, we tried to keep some of that family game-playing going. Gradually, though, more solitary gaming or other pursuits took over.
The soundtrack to my early married days was the music of The Legend of Zelda. My husband played while I read. For my older son, reading only really clicked because of needing to read the dialogue in the video games he was playing. Both kids would play video games with my husband sometimes, but they usually played on their own because of how quickly the games became overly competitive.
Sometimes I would try to play, but truly I am terrible at them and I just don’t find them fun. I enjoyed playing Beatles Rockband with the kids, but I don’t know if that really qualifies as a typical video game. And there was a multi-player puzzle game called Kablooey that I liked, which was kind of a maze of squares over water where you had to try to navigate bombs without blowing yourself up. But I don’t really enjoy first-person shooter games, or sports games, or role-playing video games, even though I played a bit of dungeons and dragons as a young adult.
Nowadays, the extent of my gaming involves a few free geeky games for my phone. Some of them can be a lot if fun as you try to better your previous score or compete with others who also play them.
I started with Quizzitive, Merriam-Webster’s word game. “The goal is to master 1000 Words Worth Knowing – words selected by Merriam-Webster editors to challenge, intrigue, and contribute to a powerful vocabulary,” by playing four different types of game. What’s most fun is to see how fast you can get through all the words in a particular game. And, if you like a bit of competition, to see how often you can be in the top 30%, 10%, or even 1% score. The two free levels get pretty boring pretty fast, though, so if you want to progress through the rest of the words, you have to upgrade for a small fee.
Now, really geeking out, I downloaded King of Math. You can compare your cumulative scores to all 4,640,354 players (!!). Apparently, I currently am number 187,631. I suspect that that means that there are a lot of people who actually haven’t logged any scores, not that I am particularly good, especially since I’ve only done a few levels. Anyway, it starts out easy with a race against the clock in each of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division, then goes on to geometry, algebra,etc. I gave up, even though it was fun, because apparently I don’t know anywhere near as much as I did when I was taking it in university, many moons ago!
Peak Brain Training is fun and challenging, if sometimes frustratingly difficult. It picks mental workouts for you to do on a daily basis, even in the free version. The games measure your score in memory, focus, problem solving, and mental agility. The app encourages you with complements like, “That’s a great debut! Well done.” The cool thing is that you can compare yourself to the other Peak users in your age group, so you can see if you’re slipping! (Right now I’m pretty good in problem solving and mental agility, but lagging behind in memory and focus.) The app tracks your changes (or maybe your ability to learn the games!) over time. And what I really like is that you can compare yourself to others in your profession — or even to those in another profession, like maybe actors or artists!
My favourite, though, is SpellTower. It’s like the game Boggle, which was one of my favourite non-electronic games. (You had a clear box with letter-cubes in it. You shook it and let them fall to the slotted tray. Then you had to make as many words as possible with adjacent letters before the timer ran out.) In SpellTower, there are games where you just go at your own pace and there are others that are timed, where rows are continually added — if you don’t cross out words fast enough and the rows reach the top, you lose!
My sister and her kids are really into FreeCell Solitaire and tell me I should try that one next. Apparently, it is really addictive, as you try to improve your scores. Actually, when I was at my son’s ball hockey game the other day, two parents in front of me were playing this on their phones and totally ignoring the game! Of course, who am I to throw stones… I was looking at Richard Armitage’s new selfie on Me+Richard!
What about you? Do you have any favourite electronic games?