Study: Top Games To Keep Your Mind Sharp

By Neal - Last updated: 09/27/2023

Love it or hate it, technology is an integral part of life. We use it for work, school, communication, shopping, and even wasting time when we’re bored. But sometimes those time-wasters, generally certain games or apps, are actually good for us; they can help us learn or practice skills, and can help keep our brains sharp.

But of all the games and apps, which do people consider the most educational? We surveyed over 950 Americans to better understand which games are helpful to your mind, and which games are just a flat-out waste of time.

Playing Games

It’s not a unique phenomenon to play games through your phone or on a tablet, all of us have those apps downloaded to give us something to do while we wait in line or distract us on a long car ride. Almost all (93%) of Americans we surveyed say they regularly play games on their phones, tablets or computers. Over half (53%) admit they play games daily and usually play on their phones.

What motivates someone to play one of these digital games? 95% say it’s for fun and entertainment, while 62% play games to pass the time. Over half (56%) are just bored and need something to do, while others play for the challenge or to fit in with friends and family. Almost 1 in 5 play games to learn something, and 1 in 10 are inspired to choose games with an educational potential over something that’s purely for fun.

Luckily, many games are free, and 80% of respondents say they play the free games or free versions of their favorite games. But 20% cough up money, whether they’ve purchased the game outright or they pay in monthly installments.

When it comes to educational games, what are players learning or practicing? The number one skill people strengthen is their memory. This is followed by critical thinking skills, language skills, time management skills and vocabulary skills.

Ranking Educational Games

It’s no surprise that Duolingo ranks first for the most educational game, the language-learning platform combines fun and games with the ability to learn a new language. The word game Wordle, which took the world by storm in early 2022, ranks second. Having to come up with 5-letter words makes you dig into your mind’s vocabulary bank! (If you need somewhere to practice, check out Word Hurdle)

Chess (a classic), Words with Friends and Sudoku round out the top five. Other popular educational games include Scrabble, Solitaire, the New York Times Crossword, Minecraft, and Monopoly. Clearly, those math skills come in handy when you’re deciding if you need to declare bankruptcy!

Of course, there are games that don’t help your brain at all. These are the ones that people consider to be the least educational. Candy Crush comes out on top, followed by Angry Birds, Call of Duty, Pokemon GO and Grand Theft Auto.

Other noneducational games include Clash of Clans, Animal Crossing, Subway Surfers, Roblox and Among Us.

Educational Games and Kids

Kids these days live in a different environment, as they have grown up with technology already integrated in their lives. Of our survey respondents, nearly 2 in 5 report being parents or guardians, and 67% of parents admit to letting their kids play games or apps. But every game they play isn’t necessarily beneficial to their impressionable minds.

PBS Kids Games, Duolingo, Brain Pop, Quizlet, and Crayola Create and Play are among the top games or apps that parents find the most educational.

Game Benefits

One of the most classic games that we’ve all spent time playing is Solitaire, and the good news, 52% of Americans say this game helps improve critical thinking skills! So when your boss catches Solitaire on your computer, just tell them you’re sharpening your mind.

In fact, 96% say certain games help keep minds sharp and exercise your brain, and 96% say that playing these certain games helps you learn overall.

3 in 4 say games involving words (like crossword puzzles) help improve vocabulary skills, while 68% add these games to improve spelling skills. Unfortunately for fans of Minecraft, only 27% say it helps improve math skills. Not the most educational or beneficial for your mind.

We already know that Duolingo is popular, and 63% utilize this game and platform to improve their language skills. Some of the most popular languages people are learning are Spanish, French, and Japanese.

It only takes a few minutes each day to exercise your brain and help keep your mind sharp! Just make sure to choose a game that makes you think and helps you learn.


In October 2022, we surveyed 951 Americans to get their feedback on some of the most and least educational gaming and apps. Respondents were 46% female and 54% male, with an age range of 18 to 83 and an average age of 37 years old.

Fair Use

When using this data and research, please attribute by linking to this study and citing

About the author

Neal Taparia is one of the founders of Solitaired. He loves playing card games and is interested in understanding how games can help with brain training and skills building. In addition to card games, he also likes fishing and mountain biking.

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