Wordle and Co.
Remember Wordle? When the nifty word-guessing puzzle suddenly went viral in December ‘21, it seemed as though everyone and their grandma was playing. And though the hype has died down, the game is as enjoyable as it’s always been – a testament to its simple yet delightful mechanics. Then there’s the inherent limitation of only being able to play once a day – perfect for those who struggle with the “one more game” syndrome. While the brain health benefits of Wordle and its ilk are debated, researchers agree that it’s a great way to hone your pattern recognition skills while fulfilling a natural desire for mental stimulation.
But what’s really great about the Wordle format is how versatile it is. Vocabulary not your thing? How about Framed – a game where you guess a film based on increasingly obvious screencaps? Star Wars fans will appreciate SWordle, while economics and geography aficionados might go nuts for Tradle – a game that asks you to guess a country based on… its national exports. Hundreds upon hundreds of other variations can be found on the unofficial Wordle fan site. A special mention goes out to Cine2Nerdle – a particularly ingenious mix between Wordle and Connect Four for movie aficionados.
The Wiki Game
We’ve all been there: you pop onto Wikipedia to look up, let’s say… where tomatoes came from – and there you are, an hour later, reading about the French Revolution, racking your brains over black holes, and skimming the biography of Gandhi. The Wiki Game takes that phenomenon to the next level by tasking you with finding the optimal “route” between two seemingly unrelated Wikipedia articles. How quickly can you get, for instance, from Teletubbies to Socrates? Would you have guessed that one of the quickest paths from medicine to psychedelic rock goes through Yugoslavia? Playing The Wiki Game is a great way to discover the strange, tangled, and surprising connections between all things on Earth.
Duolingo and Co.
You’re probably familiar with memes about the Duolingo owl – the feathered green tormentor of poor language-learners, whose smiling visage seems to follow us into our worst nightmares. But behind all the jokes is a great way to spend five minutes you’d otherwise waste on a round of Angry Birds. Though no app can be a proper substitute for language classes, it’s a great way to familiarize yourself with the local language before a vacation, refresh your memories of a language learned years ago, or simply make yourself busy in a useful way.
Type like a pro
If you’ve always wanted to learn touch-typing (or get better at it than you already are), here’s a truly beneficial way to spend some spare time. Gone are the days of boring training software! Gamification is where it’s at. Take, for instance, Type Racer, where you get to compete in typing speed with players from around the world.
Not confident in your prowess? No problem. Beginners will appreciate Ratatype: the game will not only teach you the very basics of touch-typing, such as proper finger placement, but also reward you with shiny coins, which you can spend on new player characters.
Typing pros who desire a challenge, on the other hand, should check out Kick Ass Fingers, which offers the largest degree of customization for all your needs. It even has its own Discord server – that’s how you know it’s serious.