Stacking games such as Tetris have been around for decades and have been played by hundreds of thousands of kids around the globe. Games like Tetris are beloved by young and old, and I know when I was a kid- I wasted away countless hours playing Tetris on the Game Boy Color. So the real question comes, were those hours actually wasted?
What you might not be aware of is that these types of games actually build mental strategy and thinking skills. Or, maybe you did know that being the smart reader you are, maybe you’re unsure as to WHY these games help do what they do. During a neuro-imaging study of a brain while playing Tetris, Dr. Richard Haier found that learning to play Tetris actually led to the development of a thicker cortex and therefore higher brain efficiency.
It means the study found that over time practicing Tetris actually helped people to make faster decisions in their average life above and beyond Tetris, and led to them make more informed decisions. On top of decision processing boosts, studies have also found that playing block stacking games can increase the gray matter in ones brain. Gray matter is responsible for important tasks such as muscle control and sensory perception. When you have more gray matter it leads to faster reaction times, meaning that playing block stacking games actually gives you faster reflexes overall. Although its interesting to accredit these brain boosting strategies to only block stacking games that doesn't seem to be the case.
Scientists performing studies in this area agree that any sort of task the requires mental acuity and reflexes can have the same sort of effect as playing these stacking games. A study within the last 10 years found that practicing juggling also increased gray matter in areas of fine motor skills. The reason for these changes to the brain are because of the way block stacking games are designed. Because the objective is to stack block in such a way to clear them and blocks begin at the top unseen to the player they have to make quick decisions as the blocks fall as to where they want to put them. Add on top of the stacking that there's a timer and it means players have to hone their decision making and reflexes as they play the game. The brain begins producing more gray matter for the areas that need it to play Tetris over time so that when you play- the brain will have less work to do.
When you continuously play block stacking games you're building up parts of your brain and actually becoming more adept at mental strategy overall. Now more than ever you have a reason to dig up those old Game Boys, head to your local arcade, or boot up your dusty Commodore-64 and start playing some of those classic block stacking games. Knowing how and why playing will boost your mental strategy should be more than enough of an incentive! Just watch out for the Tetris Effect.