What Games Help Improve Memory? | Iris Reading
What Games Help Improve Memory?

What Games Help Improve Memory?

What Games Help Improve Memory?

Games that help improve memory are:

  • Chess
  • Crosswords 
  • Sudoku
  • Board games
  • Online brain-training games

Gone are the days when playing games was viewed as a childish, time-wasting exercise.

The brain needs as much exercise as your body to keep in shape. 

Brain games improve your cognitive performance in memory, problem-solving, and logical reasoning. These improvements keep your mind sharp and stimulated.

In this post, we will explore five different games that improve memory. 

Knowing these games will help you choose those with the greatest impact on your memory retention, recall, and concentration.

1. Chess

Chess is visual stimuli that exercise memory and concentration in children and adults. It teaches you planning, decision-making, and creativity to anticipate your opponent’s moves and win the game.

In chess, you learn to memorize different opening moves and analyze your opponent’s patterns to guide your decision-making. 

Chess increases your memory recall because you have to remember different moves and positions.

Your attention span also increases because you’re focused on getting to checkmate your opponent. So you’ve to keep on top of their moves to make moves that will win the game.

Various studies on the impact of chess among school-going children showed that they had better memory, creativity, attention span, verbal reasoning, and organization skills. 

As a student, chess improves a student’s concentration, sharpens your memory, and teaches patience. It helps you see how different actions (moves on the board) produce certain consequences (winning or losing).

In cognitive psychology, chess is referred to as the ‘fruitfly’. It helps psychologists understand how humans process information and make decisions.

How to play chess

  1. Set up the board. Ensure the queen’s color matches her square.
  2. The white makes the first move. Each player takes a turn and can only move one piece (unless when castling).
  3. Note how each piece can move. For example, pawns move forward while rooks can move sideways, backward, or forwards in a straight line. Bishops move diagonally

The king can only move one square at a time while the queen can move more than one square in different directions (forward, backward, or diagonally)

  1. Take your opponent’s piece(s) along your path. For example, move the pawn and bishop diagonally to capture opposing pieces.
  2. Your king is in check when the opponent’s piece is in attack position. In this case, you would need to move the king or use another piece to block or capture the attacking piece.
  3. If you can’t move the king or block the attacking piece, then your king has been in checkmate, and the opponent wins.

Benefits of chess

  1. It requires minimal resources.
  2. It’s suitable for people of all ages. The memory benefits of chess are evident in children, teenagers, young adults, and older adults.
  3. It is a healthy social activity that helps children in troubled neighborhoods keep away from gangs and drugs.
  4. It helps players develop strategic planning and thinking skills.

2. Crosswords 

Crosswords are brain training games that increase your ability to retain and recall vocabulary. 

Crossword puzzles improve your cognition within the linguistic area. 

And learning new words and practicing memorization techniques from our comprehensive memory maximization course will enhance your memory retention and recall.

A comparison of college students with crossword experts shows significant cognitive differences. Crossword experts have higher verbal and visuospatial skills owing to their higher information processing and storage capacity.

Crosswords create a mental challenge because you have to concentrate on writing the words correctly in the white boxes. Repeated practice builds your vocabulary retention and concentration.

You can get crossword puzzles from your local newspaper, a book of crosswords, or mobile gaming apps.

How to play crossword puzzles

In a crossword game, you play against yourself to input words in a grid. Filling in all the blank spaces ends the game.

Here are the steps: 

  1. Choose a clue for a particular grid space.
  2. Think of the possible answers and note them on a blank paper.
  3. Select the most plausible answer and type it in the grid.
    1. The first letter should match the numbered square.
    2. Add the remaining letters in sequential order.
  4. Place all the answers in the blank squares. If there’s a mismatch with other answers sharing or crossing the grid, you may need to rework the crossword to find the wrong answer.

3. Sudoku 

Sudoku is a short-term memory game for placing numbers on a nine-place grid. It tests your ability to plan your placement, which improves your memory and concentration.

Sudoku invokes your working memory when you rehearse how to place numbers in the blank grids. 

By organizing the numbers, you teach your brain to create patterns and recall missing numbers.

A four-month study on the memory performance of adults playing Sudoku showed positive changes. Both older and younger adults improved their working memory during the experiment, especially in their letter and number performance.  

The level of complexity determines how well you can train and improve your cognitive skills. 

A beginner could start with the easy version then progress to the harder ones. Difficult Sudoku puzzles increase your grit and perseverance in tackling challenging real-world problems.

You can find Sudoku in your local newspaper, online, or a free gaming app. 

If you’re playing a printed-out game, you can use a pencil so you can erase the number placement easily.

How to play Sudoku

  1. Use numbers 1-9 on the 9-grid space without repeating the numbers in the same row or column. Each 3X3 square should have one instance of that number.
  2. Some puzzles have pre-filled numbers. Your work is to fill in the remaining numbers in the square, row, and column using deductive reasoning or elimination.
  3. Try to recognize patterns instead of guessing the missing numbers. It may require some patience and insight to place the missing numbers correctly.
  4. Use penciling and cross-hatching for number elimination. Cross-hatching allows you to concentrate on filling one grid at a time. 

Once you complete the grid, you can scan and fill in the columns. If there’s a wrong placement, you can erase the number and restart the process.

4. Board games 

Board games help train and sharpen your mind. They are also associated with slower cognitive decline in older adults, especially people living with dementia.

A follow-up study on the impact of board games on people with dementia showed a 15% lower risk of dementia among board players than non-players.


In Monopoly, players roll a pair of dice then make a decision that informs how they move on the board. The game consists of 40 squares and 28 property locations. Eight color groups are assigned to the properties.

You can use monopoly to encourage deep reinforcement learning. This learning helps humans and intelligent systems make frequent complex decisions based on learned strategies.

How to play Monopoly

  1. Assign each player five cards.
  2. On each player’s turn, they can draw two cards or play three cards. You can choose to invoke an Action card, increase your bank balance, or add property.
  3. You win when you have collected three types of colored property sets.
  4. If you have 8 cards or more by your turn’s end, you’ll have to get rid of them till you have 7 cards.

Benefits of board games:

  • Teach teamwork and cooperation among players.
  • Ideal bonding activity. It helps you meet and know new people.
  • Stimulate your brain by influencing how you process information and encode it in memory.
  • Relieve stress by triggering endorphin release.
  • Encourage creativity and connection in shy or timid adults and children.

5. Online brain-training games

Brain-training games combine problems and puzzles that stimulate and sharpen your mind. They are great exercises for slowing cognitive decline in older adults.

These games slow down Dementia and Alzheimer’s by strengthening the neural connections in your brain. They train the working memory and make it agile. 

Playing these games alongside our 30 tips to improve your memory is a sure brain-boosting strategy.

Brain training exercises have been used in smart aging for older adults. 

Smart aging is a combination of cognitive training interventions that include brain training, nutrition, and exercise. 

Brain training here improves the performance of short-term and working memory.

Common online brain games are:

  • Lumosity
  • Elevate
  • Peak
  • Braingle
  • Brain Fitness
  • Clevermind

Here are our top 3 picks:

1. Lumosity

Lumosity is one of the top 50 brain games for improving your memory, vocabulary, problem-solving, and mathematical skills. It contains different games that test and improve your memory, math, flexibility, attention, problem-solving, and language abilities.

Within each game are sub-games. 

For instance, you have 8 memory games: Follow That Frog, Pinball Recall, Memory Match, and Familiar Faces. 

And 6 attention games: Star Search, Train of Thought, and Eagle Eye.

Lumosity is freely available on Android and iOS play stores. Users review it highly at 4.5 out of 5 stars on Google Playstore and 4.7 out of 5 stars on Apple store.

2. Elevate

Elevate app tests a user’s writing, math, listening, and grammar skills. It is ideal for training your brain’s processing speed, memorization, and attention. 

Over three hundred thousand online reviews rank this app 4.5 out of 5 stars on Google Play. You can get the free basic version or the 7–day free trial on the subscription option.

3. Fit 

The Fit training app challenges your cognitive skills with fun, stimulating games. This free app is designed to challenge your critical thinking, memorization, and language skills.

The app is rated 4.7 out of 5 stars on the Apple store. You can download it from Google Play and the Apple store.

Final thoughts

Games that improve your memory include:

  • Chess
  • Crosswords 
  • Sudoku
  • Board games
  • Online brain-training games

These games help exercise your mind.

Sign up now for the Advanced Memory Improvement Course to learn how to maximize your memory performance and delay memory loss.

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