A Guide to Intellectually Stimulating Video Games for Gifted Children

Your heart sinks as your child unwraps a brand new video game system at their birthday party. Until now, your child has been at the top of her class and scores extremely high on aptitude tests. What do you do now?

Never fear! Video games have come full circle. When they started out, Tetris and Pac-man were the height of popularity, and both were simple strategy games. Over the last few decades, games evolved through shooters and fighters, and now have returned to their roots: simple graphics and thought-provoking gameplay.

If you want to stimulate your child’s brain, invest in a Nintendo DS, the two-screen handheld. Then load up on games like:

Brain Age 1 and 2:

These games make doing math quizzes fun! Both games are designed to test the age of your brain, based on how fast you can complete math problems, how many words you can remember in a certain time limit, and how fast you can add and subtract objects as they go by.

When you take your first brain test, you usually have an “old” brain, in the 60s or 70s at least. But as you play the games every day and get better at them, your age decreases until you reach your 20s, which is ideal. These are two games that mom and dad will enjoy right alongside their children.

Big Brain Academy:

Similar to Brain Age, this game is full of minigames to challenge your brain in areas like memory, analysis and mathematics. Unlike Brain Age, the goal is to have a “big brain”, and at the end of the brain test, it tells you your “brain size” and what type of brain you have.

There are many other puzzle-type games, ranging from Planet Puzzle League, a block sliding and matching game, to Tetris to Mah Jong.

There are many games out there that make your child think, although you may find their titles surprising.


The Pokemon series is not just about catching a bunch of cute little monsters. It’s an in-depth version of Rock, Paper, Scissors, with more than fifteen different elements beating or losing to each other. (Fire beats Grass, but Water beats Fire, for example.) Winning takes a surprising amount of strategy and memorization.

Chrono Trigger and the Final Fantasy series:

Both these games are role-playing games; that is, you control a small handful of characters, manage their statistics and weapons, and guide them through a surprisingly deep storyline. These games are like playing an interactive novel, complete with character development and plot twists. If your child likes to read, check out some of these games. Your child will stay enthralled for hours.

Don’t be afraid to let your child play video games. If you stay informed about the games they play, then your child may have so much fun that they won’t notice that they are being intellectually stimulated.