How Strategy Games Enhance Your Cognitive Skills

Alt-text: cognitive skills for strategy games

Games that involve higher cognitive functions and problem-solving have been around for millennia. Their origins can be traced back to Ancient civilizations like the Egyptians, Mesopotamians, and Chinese, who created board games that required planning and advanced tactics for one to beat equally high-skilled opposition. Without question, one of the primary and earliest known examples of this is Senet, a board game featuring moving pieces played in ancient Egypt around 3100 BCE. In China, GO was a simple-ruled board game invented over two and a half millennia ago, boasting a staggering complexity that has helped it remain relevant today. And many assume that India gave birth to Chaturanga, the basis for chess, some five millennia ago. Sadly, its concrete rules remain unknown, but historians believe it has many of the same rules as its successor – shatranj.

In our modern world, strategy games have moved from wooden boards/tables and playing against friends to chiefly trying to beat software or competing against faceless individuals based elsewhere. Much of this occurs from people’s palms, but PCs have a decent lineup of gaming choices that make gamers rack their brains on approaching set tasks. Thus, the number of options that stimulate cognitive skills has never been higher, and these not only sharpen mental acuity but are super engaging. Hence, we shall dive into how these games cultivate critical thinking and problem-solving in the following sections.

Fostering a Strategic Mindset

What is a strategic mindset? For most, it is a mental framework that entails having abilities that help one accurately anticipate outcomes by analyzing situations and formulating plans for actions with a specific objective in mind. The mere phrase strategic refers to employing a combo of planning, analysis, and decision-making towards accomplishing a defined aim, and at the center of this is predicting consequences, understanding that each action carries various ramifications that range in degree of severity.

How Games Change the Brain

When one engages deeply in these games, they can change the way neural pathways in the brain and how the mind works. That is a phenomenon known as neuroplasticity. It is defined as the nervous system’s ability to change due to stimuli, which makes it reorganize its structure. That is most evident when people suffer a sizeable brain injury or have a stroke. To cope with this narrower function range, the nervous system rearranges its connections for optimal operation.


This is almost identical to how playing chess strengthens links in areas responsible for planning, problem-solving, and spatial awareness. When someone keeps activating this region and connections, that leads to improvements in attention, working memory, and executive function. Furthermore, as players encounter novel challenges, they must develop more efficient strategies to complete these tasks. Hence, their brains change to support these cognitive processes, which produce specialized neural pathways.

Multiple studies have shown that frequent enjoyers of tactical-based games have different brain structures and alterations in grey matter density and cortical thickness compared to those who do not regularly engage in these activities. The amount of brain alterations one will experience based on playing games depends on multiple factors, including genetic predispositions, gameplay frequency, and game complexity. Nevertheless, there is no doubt that tactical games improve cognitive function and promote neuroplasticity.

How to Improve Decision-Making and Memory in Games

Critical thinking, or discerning patterns based on objective informational analysis, is the cornerstone of wise decision-making. Strategy games reward this by setting complex scenarios requiring players to evaluate multiple options and pick the best ones to hit their goals. That includes anticipation of upcoming problems, which boosts pattern recognition. It also entails enhanced memory skills, such as recalling handy information quickly and remembering various past game experiences for success.


Many games amplify memory through repetition and reinforcement, causing players to strengthen specific neural connections linked with memory encoding and retrieval. This holds true for more modern options like StarCraft and chess. But not so much for keno gambling online, where what people call strategy is nothing more than sticking to patterns grounded in superstition, not quality analysis.

The Social Aspect: Collaborative and Competitive Play

Naturally, at the core of every game is competition. Yet, that is not always person against person and sometimes involves collaboration and teamwork. For example, the famous PC strategy series Civilization enables gamers to form alliances, working together towards mutual prosperity. That helps build communication and interpersonal relationships on top of cognitive abilities. It also promotes leadership and fosters a sense of camaraderie. So, the social aspects of strategy games stretch beyond the game mechanics that boost pattern recognition and quick decision-making. They also offer valuable opportunities for personal growth.

Social interactions provide cognitive stimulation by activating attention, reasoning, and decision-making processes. They supply verbal and nonverbal communication that gives insights into human behavior and offers intellectual engagement. This is invaluable. Social interactions also improve memory by forcing individuals to recall details from past interactions, contributing to overall cognitive function.

Scroll to Top