Technology

Moving on From Wordle: New Online Games and Puzzles

Wordle has become a  phenomenon, with spinoffs like Heardle for music lovers (and others like Quordle, Octordle, Dordle and Sedecordle which get harder) – but there’s so much more out there!

(Clueless about Wordle? Read this article for more and this overview of other variations.)

All About Wordle 

Where’d the game come from? A love story, according to the New York Times:  “Josh Wardle, a software engineer in Brooklyn, knew his partner loved word games, so he created a guessing game for just the two of them…he named it Wordle.  The couple played for months, and it rapidly became an obsession in his family’s WhatsApp group. Wardle released it to the rest of the world in October.  The rest is history.”

Not everyone loves Wordle, however; some find it “annoying.” Facebook puzzle fan Audrey prefers 7 Little Words which also features a daily puzzle , or Monkey Wrench— and even online jigsaw puzzles (much neater than having them spread out on your coffee table).

“They’re just interesting enough to blot out anxiety for a little while, and feel like a morning stretch.”

More than just Fun and Games 

Why do older people like these word games? “For me these puzzles are pleasurable for my brain the way a dog likes to chew a bone,” says Facebook fan Denise. “They’re just interesting enough to blot out anxiety for a little while, and feel like a morning stretch.”

Writer Kate likes to see how fast she can do the New York Times daily crossword online.” Sometimes I can do it in two minutes, and I like this chirpy music that plays when you finish. This is how I start my day in the morning, along with reading the news and drinking coffee. I think doing crosswords and playing Wordle are really good for keeping our brains sharp as older people. “

Mindless games?

Think computer games are mindless? Think again, according to this article. Professor Daphne Bevelier  says “There is significant evidence that action video games are far from mindless.” Her studies suggest that gamers have improved skills in attentioncognition, vision, and multitasking.

However, those studies also show that gamers get the most benefit from 3D games, so if you’re still playing Pac Man you’re not getting smarter.  Here are some others which may add a few IQ points…or not.

Wordle Alternatives

 Candy Crush, one of the oldest and most popular games, offers the same high as when the objects line up at the casino slot machine. (Here’s a primer on how to play.)  But beware – it’s probably the most addictive game ever.  An article in the Observer notes, “Candy Crush is, in short, the greatest boredom-killer in human history. It’s perfectly engineered to be easy to get into, satisfying to stick with and addictive as hell.”

Match 3D is somewhat similar to Candy Crush. It’s fast paced and timed; 3D objects piled up on the ground challenge you to unjumble them.  Match 3D Master offers challenging levels to pair and match objects and matching pairs to beat levels. Facebooker Audrey says, “You have to be quick with your eyes to see the objects and quick with your fingers as well.”

Odd Bot Out helps writer Stephanie get her focus off words.  “ You get this little robot through a bunch of obstacles so it can escape the factory. The graphics are great.  The robot is adorable.  The mechanics of putting together various objects so the bot can ride them, climb them, etc. are very clever. There are hints in the app, and if you’re stuck you can find all the solutions on YouTube. “

Pokémon Go.   Pokémon Go is a free smartphone app that combines gaming with the real world. It uses location tracking and mapping technology to create an ‘augmented reality’ where players catch and train Pokémon characters in real locations. Random objects appear as you walk around your neighborhood and you have to catch them.

It will force you to get up and move around.   Player  Margaret says,  “The kilometers add up and I can pretend I’m way more virtuous about exercise than I really am.  All you need is a phone.”

Sims   is  an elaborate life simulation game. In the Sims world you choose an avatar for yourself which can do whatever you want. Psychoanalyst Steve McKeown says Sims can allow a person to escape social normality. “It allows the gamer to create a perfect reality in which they play the main character and have full control over the outcome…it allows gamers to explore a section of their personality they may not have known if they hadn’t played.”

Still can’t get enough of games? Meet fellow online game fans on the Senior Planet Community Game Time, created just for you! https://community.seniorplanet.org/groups/games-for-all/

With so many games and puzzles to choose from, it’s impossible to be bored, and the mental and even physical benefits are undeniable…to a point.  Some  find gameplay so addictive it takes over their lives; for them, there’s even therapy to get unhooked on computer gaming.

Erica Manfred’s articles and humorous essays have appeared in print and online publications including the Washington Post, Atlantic, Salon, Village Voice, and the New York Times.   A self proclaimed Geezer Geek, now in her seventies, she specializes in writing about aging.  She’s the author of four books, including her memoir,  I’m Old So Why Aren’t I Wise; Snarky Senior in the Sunshine State.   You can subscribe to her newsletter at SnarkySenior.com or visit her website at EricaManfred.com

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