For some reason, at some point in history, someone decided to merge the wholesome and honest activity of playing games with that other thing... what's it called? Oh yeah, learning. Fun and getting smart at the same time never really worked out, but one designer named Alex Colket brings us about as close as we can get with his offering, BrainBall.
There are ten short games appearing on his site each day which are designed to activate a different part of your brain. These games vary from memory tasks and concentration games to logic puzzles and so on. Using your brain, you are to complete the task as best you can in the given time and thusly be rewarded with... more... smartness. Also you get a score.
The way it works is each day there are ten games; these are the same for everyone who plays them during that day. The game types are the same the next day but the content is different, leveling out the playing field for everyone who plays. Each month the games themselves are changed and the whole thing starts again with new challenges.
Not only do you get a score for each individual game, you also get a score for your overall performance on the days' games. Returning to the site over the course of the month will give you a seasonal score. Your scores for everything are stored and compared to everyone else who plays, so that learning finally gets what its always needed: healthy competition.
Analysis: BrainBall is, seemingly, very shallow but the mechanics of it are very deep. I found myself returning over again, basically because the games are so simply designed and for the most part intuitive that the game feels more like a rewarding snack than something larger and meatier that you need to commit to.
The ease with which BrainBall can be picked up and consumed without any other external forces or adherence to traditional game play structure makes this nothing more than addictive gaming. Even if it's only for a few minutes of play each day, just to keep on the high score board. If you're up for a bit of mental stimulation, Click.
More of a word game fan? Try the BrainBall spin-off WordBall!
Update: The Play With Your Mind site is no longer available.