GET GAMING: There are endless video game choices that will help to exercise your brain and keep you entertained.
GET GAMING: There are endless video game choices that will help to exercise your brain and keep you entertained. THEPALMER

Keep the brain youthful through play

IT'S okay to play games. They're very good for the mind, particularly computer-based games.

Already more than 44 per cent of Australians over 65 play electronic games says Bond University's communication and media Associate Dean, Professor Jeffrey Brand.

On the mobile phone, iPad, tablet and PC, Xbox and gaming consoles; it doesn't matter which one you use. It's about keeping your mind active.

We don't stop playing because we grow old. We grow old because we stop playing. (George Bernard Shaw)

You may think video games are all about super-fast dropping tiles from the sky and military campaigns. "But those games are actually not the dominant type of game anymore," Professor Brand said. "There are just so many puzzle, simulator and training games which are about having fun and playing, but they also have another benefit."

Professor Brand uses some interesting examples. The Farming Simulator, which Australian farmers are also enjoying playing when not out in the field, let's you drive over 300 types of farming equipment, plant crops and tend animals, and grow your farm online with other players.

His personal favourite is Prune. It's played on an iPad. Its description is 'with a swipe of a finger, grow and shape each tree into a unique piece of art while avoiding the obstacles that confront you'. "Prune is a relaxing game with great art and beautiful music, great wind noises and there is this experience of cultivating," Professor Brand said.

There are endless other game choices. You can search the web for ideas and read online articles about good choices for seniors, ask your friends and neighbours which ones they are using, talk to the staff in your local gaming shop, or ask your grandkids ideas and how to play.

The trick is that once you have mastered a game, change your game choice rather playing the same one over and over again, and subsequently not contintuing fully exercising your mind.

What's in the future? A new company, Akili Interactive, is developing therapeutically active digital medicine.

"They are trying to create a world where doctors prescribe interactive tools that are effectively like video games to help people," Professor Brand said. "I think we will see the future of medicine involve not only a good diet and exercise, but also some sort of brain training or cognitive therapy that will be prescribed by doctors, and it will be based on video games."

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