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Subject: Sharpening the mind rss

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LeeAnn Gormley
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I'm the wife of an avid gamer and, well, am pretty avid myself. My husband is brilliant...sharp witted and a very fast learner. In life, as well as gaming, he is extremely insightful and strategic. When we first started playing games together, I never felt like I'd be able to hold a candle to him! To be clear, I'm no dummy...I consider myself a very bright woman, but gaming was overwhelming to me at first and I considered giving up more than a few times when we first started playing often. All this to say, I'm really glad I did not. When I look back on that time, which was only about 9 months ago, I am amazed at how far I've come. I am now a relatively worthy opponent to my husband and I don't feel embarassed to play with his gaming pals either. I see strategies I never thought I'd see and I understand the rules so much more quickly than I ever did before. The main point in all of this is to say that many hobbies people take up to relax can really numb the mind. I'm so glad that my husband and I have found one that strengthens my mental abilities not only in gaming, but in everyday life. Does anyone else out there feel the same way? I'd encourage anyone reading this who might be on the fence about gaming, or who may have had some negative experiences getting started and feeling overwhelmed, to keep at it. In time you will truly find it to be so rewarding.
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stephen
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The more gaming you do, the better you get, just like any other experience, my wife had the same experience starting off on simple games she has come a long way and can play just about anything now with practice. It seems to me that it`s not that people become smarter the more they play, it is that they start to make use of a abilities they were never aware they had, as well as gaining the confidence to use that ability. Thanks for sharing your experiences.
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LeeAnn Gormley
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That's really well put. I definitely agree it's more of an honing and awakening of skills, as opposed to newly developed intelligence.
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Drew Gormley
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emmersonpoole wrote:
The more gaming you do, the better you get, just like any other experience, my wife had the same experience starting off on simple games she has come a long way and can play just about anything now with practice. It seems to me that it`s not that people become smarter the more they play, it is that they start to make use of a abilities they were never aware they had, as well as gaining the confidence to use that ability. Thanks for sharing your experiences.


I'd respectfully disagree - I think that gaming, especially certain games, does make people smarter. But one could probably state (as you essentially did) that learning things doens't make someone smarter, just taps into an IQ. I personally don't think that holds water, but to each their own, I guess. The implication that the more someone does thing X, the better they will become at it is not in and of itself true. If someone becomes a "better" decision maker, they become smarter and more efficient at making decisions. Just because they could make decisions before doesn't mean they've simply tapped into an ability and confidence to make them better, they've learned new skills and whatnot. But certainly you have to have that potential or you won't actually have the ability to get smarter.
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LeeAnn Gormley
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Sounds like semantics to me, boys. Since I did title the thread "sharpening the mind" I definitely line up more with the idea that the intelligence is there, but in our modern comfy lives it is rarely tapped into because the media does all of our thinking for us and the internet puts any answer you want at your fingertips. Whether or not it "makes you smarter" or allows you to enhance your intelligence really doesn't matter.
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Lynette
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Yep, I am a girl Scientist. Come for the breasts; Stay for the brains!
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As a Scientist I will add to this... there are several studies out that show that as we get older, if you to don't use it you lose it.

People who play games, do crosswords, logic puzzles, etc retain sharper mental acuity for longer on average.

They even in some studies have seen people regain some lost ground once they start putting regular "mental" exercises into their routines.

So building, honing or regaining... it all works out to a similar result. People who actively use their minds on average will improve their personal mental acuity.

So Play GAMES people... it is GOOD FOR YOU.

Great Thread LeeAnn!
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LeeAnn Gormley
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Thanks! It's good to have a scientific perspective
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Eugene
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LeeBeeg wrote:
I'm the wife of an avid gamer and, well, am pretty avid myself. My husband is brilliant...sharp witted and a very fast learner. In life, as well as gaming, he is extremely insightful and strategic. When we first started playing games together, I never felt like I'd be able to hold a candle to him!

My partner Anna is much quicker off the starting line than I am with new games. She routinely sees the overall picture well before I do, and the typical pattern is she beating me and gloating for the first few games until I get up to speed.
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LeeAnn Gormley
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I must admit that in the rare moments I do seem to grasp something before my guy, I may gloat JUST a little...
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Dale Moore
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It's great you stuck it out. When I was a kid I'd play my Grandfather in chess. He was always playing and would read chess books, study and practice.

I on the other hand couldn't stand chess books, but I was willing to get clobbered over and over as I learned how to strategize. I still remember the fist time I won. Best day of my childhood. It got to the point where I could win 40% of the time. And I was unstoppable with kids my own age. sadly I never got to play with him as an Adult. And I haven't played chess since.

That type of thinking ,no matter how smart you are, is something that you have to learn and develop. And you have to take some beating when you are playing against someone that has already developed it, but the reward is so worth it.

Fantastic story.
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I think we forget how much someone new to board gaming is really learning. I think of it as levels:

1. There are the game mechanics themselves. Other than rolling a die and moving on the board, almost all of those will be new.
2. The game's map, just getting familiar with the events available in relationship to one another.
3. Rules, their language and layout. Ideas such as "round" "turn" "step" -- which is nonstandarized language, so one game's round is another game's turn... player aids, character sheets, quickstart guides, etc.
4. Text and artwork on cards.
5. Different categories of cards.
6. Frequency of cards & hand management skills
7. Combos (of cards, of location on map and cards, of location + card+ character ability...)
8. Characters (abilities, stats, changing states....)
9. Clocks, doomtracks, tokens
10. Auctions & all the knowledge of auctions
11. Alliances
12. Different stages of a game: initial stage, midgame, endgame.
13. "EQ" issues: personality and play quirks of fellow players; communication differences

That's a lot to learn... while under a time constraint (session length); critical gaze of other players, especially experienced players; internal monologs about fear of looking stupid, hurting others' feelings, disappointing friends, etc. etc.

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Mystery McMysteryface
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The first few games you try out all seem different, weird, and new. Sometimes it is hard to wrap your head around the mechanics. However, after 4 years, I can say it is easier to learn new games and the mechanics don't challenge us as much.
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Ms Aura

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EgorjLileli wrote:
The first few games you try out all seem different, weird, and new. Sometimes it is hard to wrap your head around the mechanics. However, after 4 years, I can say it is easier to learn new games and the mechanics don't challenge us as much.

Thats good to know because I don't get time to play f2f as often as I like and I still feel like a dummy when I'm trying to learn some games even if I like the mechanic or have played other games before. There is hope for me! lol. gimme a few years.

And I think it's great for the brain!
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Mystery McMysteryface
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Auramine O wrote:
EgorjLileli wrote:
The first few games you try out all seem different, weird, and new. Sometimes it is hard to wrap your head around the mechanics. However, after 4 years, I can say it is easier to learn new games and the mechanics don't challenge us as much.

Thats good to know because I don't get time to play f2f as often as I like and I still feel like a dummy when I'm trying to learn some games even if I like the mechanic or have played other games before. There is hope for me! lol. gimme a few years.

And I think it's great for the brain!


It is most obvious when you explain a simple game to a non-gamer and you see how much trouble they have remembering the 1-2 rules/actions each time it is their turn.
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Sim Guy
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Meerkat wrote:

As a Scientist I will add to this... there are several studies out that show that as we get older, if you to don't use it you lose it.

People who play games, do crosswords, logic puzzles, etc retain sharper mental acuity for longer on average.

They even in some studies have seen people regain some lost ground once they start putting regular "mental" exercises into their routines.

So building, honing or regaining... it all works out to a similar result. People who actively use their minds on average will improve their personal mental acuity.

So Play GAMES people... it is GOOD FOR YOU.

Great Thread LeeAnn!

As a Psychologist I can say that Lynette is spot on. And further, the more complex the games and puzzles, the more effective the mental honing.

Even as we grow older and become less physically capable, it doesn't take much effort to pull out a game and (even solo) play through it. The added bonus of social interaction, when you are lucky enough to get together in a group, exercises and enhances other mental capabilities, as well.

So get out there and play.

Oh, and drink lots of coffee.coffee
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Betty Egan
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Quote:
The main point in all of this is to say that many hobbies people take up to relax can really numb the mind.


Unfortunately most people just don't want to invest the amount of mental effort it takes to play a good game - it's just easier to stare at the TV or youtube. I think that's one of the reasons that it's hard to get more people into playing strategy games.

I love the feeling of my brain "firing up" when I play a good strategy game. Some of us don't have jobs that provide much mental stimulation during the day. That's why I love, love, love playing games. My brain wants it!








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Melissa
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BettyEgan wrote:
Quote:
The main point in all of this is to say that many hobbies people take up to relax can really numb the mind.


Unfortunately most people just don't want to invest the amount of mental effort it takes to play a good game.... Some of us don't have jobs that provide much mental stimulation during the day. That's why I love, love, love playing games. My brain wants it!



EXACTLY!!!

That said, I will admit that I sometimes find it frustrating to play real brain burner type games, because I feel like I don't get to utilize my strategic brain enough in my work life.
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Jennifer Derrick
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I agree with everything posted and here's my little story...

I used to be able to focus and concentrate on things intensely. I could solve problems and really work my brain. I'd read and write for hours, or sit and work crosswords or jigsaws until they were solved. And I liked it.

But somewhere along the way I started losing that ability. I was easily distracted, too quick to jump from thing to thing without finishing or solving the first problem. I lost my ability to stick with something for a long time. Focus and concentration, gone, out the damn door.

I thought it was just a fact of getting older (started noticing it about the time I hit 38 or so). So I really started paying attention to my day. Turns out, this was a hell I'd basically made for myself. Too much internet and too much TV were the real culprits. I'd gotten into a place where I would spend too much time randomly clicking on links on webpages, mindlessly surfing the internet or tv channels. When I'd sit down to work, I'd need to do a search and the search would turn into 30 minutes of mindless surfing activity. I was watching TV when reading, thus absorbing little.

One day I turned it off. Literally. Unplugged the router so I couldn't get online without a hassle. Cancelled the cable. It was also about this time that I discovered gaming (it made a good replacement for TV). At first gaming was hard because my brain wasn't used to the focused attention that the heavier games required. But gradually through playing games, limiting my media consumption, and doing other brain boosting activities, I got my nerd brain back. Now I can work on things and focus for hours again. I love it.

I've also become a better gamer since the return of my nerd brain. I can figure out a strategy instead of being distracted by something else. I can keep what the other people are doing in my head as I make decisions.

Gaming can help save your brain!!


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Drew Gormley
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OxfordRow wrote:
I agree with everything posted and here's my little story...

I used to be able to focus and concentrate on things intensely. I could solve problems and really work my brain. I'd read and write for hours, or sit and work crosswords or jigsaws until they were solved. And I liked it.

But somewhere along the way I started losing that ability. I was easily distracted, too quick to jump from thing to thing without finishing or solving the first problem. I lost my ability to stick with something for a long time. Focus and concentration, gone, out the damn door.

I thought it was just a fact of getting older (started noticing it about the time I hit 38 or so). So I really started paying attention to my day. Turns out, this was a hell I'd basically made for myself. Too much internet and too much TV were the real culprits. I'd gotten into a place where I would spend too much time randomly clicking on links on webpages, mindlessly surfing the internet or tv channels. When I'd sit down to work, I'd need to do a search and the search would turn into 30 minutes of mindless surfing activity. I was watching TV when reading, thus absorbing little.

One day I turned it off. Literally. Unplugged the router so I couldn't get online without a hassle. Cancelled the cable. It was also about this time that I discovered gaming (it made a good replacement for TV). At first gaming was hard because my brain wasn't used to the focused attention that the heavier games required. But gradually through playing games, limiting my media consumption, and doing other brain boosting activities, I got my nerd brain back. Now I can work on things and focus for hours again. I love it.

I've also become a better gamer since the return of my nerd brain. I can figure out a strategy instead of being distracted by something else. I can keep what the other people are doing in my head as I make decisions.

Gaming can help save your brain!!




Great story Sophie, thanks for sharing - keep on gaming!
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LeeAnn Gormley
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Cancelling cable was probably one of the BEST things I've ever done for myself and my relationships...It's no coincidence that it was after I cancelled cable that I was really able to get into games. Three cheers for tuning in to your brain as opposed to turning it off!
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Joanna G
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LeeBeeg wrote:
The main point in all of this is to say that many hobbies people take up to relax can really numb the mind. I'm so glad that my husband and I have found one that strengthens my mental abilities not only in gaming, but in everyday life. Does anyone else out there feel the same way? I'd encourage anyone reading this who might be on the fence about gaming, or who may have had some negative experiences getting started and feeling overwhelmed, to keep at it. In time you will truly find it to be so rewarding.

My partner and I were just talking about this topic the other day... We had gotten into a habit of watching too much tv and we were starting to feel like mindless blobs, so we made a conscious effort to turn the tv off more often and instead play games. It's made a big difference, we both have more energy and I feel like my analytical skills are stronger; its kind of like exercise for the brain. It's also fun to see which type of game we really shine in... for her its non-direct competitive games, where you don't really know who's winning til the end... she always ends up beating me even when I'm sure I'm winning! I think I play best when the pressure is on, my brain wakes up and the do or die instinct kicks it, which is why I play co-ops or direct competitive games the best.
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Joanna G
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OxfordRow wrote:
I agree with everything posted and here's my little story...

I used to be able to focus and concentrate on things intensely. I could solve problems and really work my brain. I'd read and write for hours, or sit and work crosswords or jigsaws until they were solved. And I liked it.

But somewhere along the way I started losing that ability. I was easily distracted, too quick to jump from thing to thing without finishing or solving the first problem. I lost my ability to stick with something for a long time. Focus and concentration, gone, out the damn door.

I thought it was just a fact of getting older (started noticing it about the time I hit 38 or so). So I really started paying attention to my day. Turns out, this was a hell I'd basically made for myself. Too much internet and too much TV were the real culprits. I'd gotten into a place where I would spend too much time randomly clicking on links on webpages, mindlessly surfing the internet or tv channels. When I'd sit down to work, I'd need to do a search and the search would turn into 30 minutes of mindless surfing activity. I was watching TV when reading, thus absorbing little.

One day I turned it off. Literally. Unplugged the router so I couldn't get online without a hassle. Cancelled the cable. It was also about this time that I discovered gaming (it made a good replacement for TV). At first gaming was hard because my brain wasn't used to the focused attention that the heavier games required. But gradually through playing games, limiting my media consumption, and doing other brain boosting activities, I got my nerd brain back. Now I can work on things and focus for hours again. I love it.

I've also become a better gamer since the return of my nerd brain. I can figure out a strategy instead of being distracted by something else. I can keep what the other people are doing in my head as I make decisions.

Gaming can help save your brain!!



What a great story! I have ADHD and noticed my concentration has improved since starting to game. Well, it's at least really good while I'm playing a game - though I've managed to read several books in a couple weeks (something I haven't done since college) and have been finishing projects more often, instead of starting new ones and finishing nothing, so I think gaming must be doing something to help my concentration. Maybe doctors should prescribe board games instead of Ritalin.
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