“Hey man, what’s up?”
“Not much. I just got done playing 10 games in my head.”
“…What? What do you mean by that? Like 2 truths and a lie or something?”
“No. They were all different games.”
“Well, what games?”
“I’m not gonna tell you the whole list! You’ll prolly think I’m crazy!”
This discussion is probably familiar to some people when they’re having idle conversation with their peers. The topic of “games in your head” comes up often when someone wants to change the topic of conversation or when no one has anything else to talk about; it’s like an inside joke or meme that many people play along with.
Whether or not a person comes up with the list of different games, they’re going to come up with some kind of game to play in their head. It’s always been a thing for people, and it continues to be today. In fact, I would even say that people are more likely to play these games now than ever before because we have so many different distraction from technology. Here I’ll share my list of the top 10 [in no particular order] mental games [or better known as thinking outside the box].
codebreaker is about decoding an encrypted message; usually one that someone received through Morse code over telegraphs (I think). The “decoder” has to listen to a series of “dots” and “dashes,” which are spaced out according to the following code: 3 dots = 3 dashes dash-dot = 1 dash-dash-dot = 2 and so on …
The decoder has to sit there and think of what each sequence of sounds could equal based upon their numerical values. This isn’t easy because it’s not always clear when a dash starts or ends, and some messages have more than one character in them! Because this is such an ambiguous puzzle, many people get stuck really quickly. They have to just bang it out until they get it right or they get the right amount of “hints” (usually 3) and can pass.
A game that requires out-of-the-box thinking, chess is one of the most popular games to play in your head. You have all these pieces that you have to think about where they are at on the map, which ones are closest to each other, where they will go next, etc. This game has so many possibilities–if you think too much it might drive you crazy! But if you’re good enough, there’s almost no limit to your capabilities or what you could do with your imagination during this game.
My favorite pastime in elementary school was playing hangman. I would play it in class, recess, lunch time, the bus on the way home…basically everywhere if I could get away with it! When I played it at home I would ask my mom for a pencil and paper so that it wouldn’t be cheating. The point of this game is to guess what word your partner has written down without having any clues about how many letters are in the word or which letters are correct. You do so by writing down each letter of the alphabet until you can figure out what their words starts with or ends with; then you can try to infere what other letters might be in between them.
4- 20 Questions
If you’re ever bored in a car or on a plane, you can play this kind of thinking game to pass the time. In 20 questions you have to figure out which object your partner is thinking about without being able to ask them anything else about it! This might sound impossible at first, but you just have to think outside of the box and try to list every category that the object could fall into. For instance, if I were playing 20 questions with someone and they said “dog,” you better believe that I would say “animal!”
See also: Top 10 fun games for kids 2022
5- Fermi Problems
Named after Enrico Fermi (the physicist), fermi problems are puzzles that require estimating how many items there are between two values. Sometimes it’s “how many grains of sand are there in the world?” or it could also be “how many people are born every second?” I think fermi problems are so fun because they can have so many different answers, each one being just as correct as the other despite how much you might disagree with it.
6- Tic Tac Toe
It should come to no surprise that this game is on my list; tic tac toe is a classic game that everyone knows about. There aren’t too many variables to this game but there certainly isn’t an end either! As long as someone doesn’t get bored and make a silly mistake, tic tac toe has no limit (that I know of) on how long it could go on.
7- Hangman 2
This is another kind of hangman game–but the twist here is that instead of waiting for someone to guess a word, you are writing your own! The only way to win this game is if your code name isn’t broken into any pieces. So, if you’re playing with someone else, it’s kind of like tic tac toe because there are three places that each person can lose at. You can also try adding more complicated letters or symbols into the mix in order to make the game harder and more interesting! I recommend trying hangman 2 with Morse code; one dash means “A,” two dashes mean “B,” and so on.
Monopoly is a great strategy game, but it’s also a thinking game. Since the rules are not very simple, you have to really think about what you’re going to do with each move and which properties you’ll want to buy when they get auctioned off! This game can last a long time, but there’s definitely no winner until someone gets bored of playing or runs out of money–or both! So if you’re ready for an epic challenge, I’d recommend trying this one sometime.
9- 5 in a Row
If tic tac toe isn’t your style, maybe try playing five in a row against your friends? This game is a little bit more complicated than tic tac toe, but it’s still kind of the same concept. The only difference is that instead of Xs and Os, you have to put rings on a grid. Whoever makes a line first wins!
See also: Top 5 Video Games from Amazon
I saved my favorite for last–and what better way to end the list with a great strategy game? There are some good skills that come from playing battleship: math skills (if you’re trying to figure out where your opponent thinks your ship is), critical thinking skills (because who ever thought of making the ships move in the first place?!), logical deduction…the list goes on and on. Battleship is such an interesting game because it can be so unpredictable. You never know where your opponent is going to place the ships until it’s too late, and they could go at any angle at any time. That’s what makes it challenging and addicting!