Holiday fun for tired brains

Ten undemanding online games for when the last thing you need is something that forces you to think!

Think like a six year old!

Nine years ago, I published a blog post titled “Scientist just wants to have fun — a compendium of mindless games for the holiday season!” I was tired, grumpy, and just wanted to zone out with something that didn’t take more than a couple of brain cells worth of effort.

Perhaps surprisingly, given that I make my living from my brain as a senior professor, I find myself going back to that compendium each year, and still getting a surprising amount of pleasure from the incredibly simple games it contained.

So much so, that I thought it was time to update it and repost.

Since 2009 (and the first update in 2011), some of the games have become unavailable, and others have worn a little thin. But a good number are still around, and just as engaging. In this 2018 update, I’ve kept the best, and added a few new ones — just in time for those holiday days when the last thing you need is for your brain to be stretched too much!

So prepare to chill out and have some fun with these ten mindless games for tired brains!

Levers

Pick up the items and make your own mobile — as simple as that!

A deceptively engaging bit of fun from VectorPark, Levers was in the original collection. Like all games from VectorPark, it’s up to you to discover the rules by trial and error. Or you could just sit and watch your mobile twist and turn on the screen — my recommendation after a heavy Holiday meal!

Monkey Lander

Pick up the fruit, land the lander, don’t run out of fuel. Warning — it’s addictive!

Another throwback to 2009, I still enjoy playing Monkey Lander — which probably says volumes about my maturity levels! That said, the gravity-thruster simulation in the game isn’t half bad!

Science Crossword Puzzles

Nothing too taxing here!

This is a great set of no-too-hard science-themed crossword puzzles from Jefferson Lab — just the job for when 99% of the brain’s asleep!

Acrobats

Totally meaningless, totally fun!

Another brilliant offering from VectorPark, Acrobats is a game I introduced in 2011. Just play with the controls, move the acrobats with your cursor, and enjoy!

Simon Says

Get ready to be driven crazy — this one will give you brain-ache!

I couldn’t resist including Simon Says from Neave as a piece of retro-nostalgia!

Science Word Searches

Just in case you’re struggling, this one even comes with simple hints!

New to this collection, this is a great set of easy (but not too taxing) word searches with a distinctly “sciency” feel.

Gravity Launch

As technical and educational as I dared to go with this collection …

Another game from the original collection, Gravity Launch almost didn’t make it first time round as it teeters on the edge of being too educational! But despite this obvious flaw, it’s still a lot of fun — and simple too. Just adjust the rocket’s thrust and takeoff angle, and try to dock with an increasingly complex array of space stations.

Seasons

Simple and soothing

Seasons is another VectorPark application that has all the hallmarks of other applications from the same shop — deceptive simplicity, beautifully imagined graphics, and delightful serendipity. Move the cursor around and see what happens. To move to the next season, simply move the cursor to the right of the screen.

Feed the Head

Utterly weird, but at the same time, strangely compelling

I love Feed the Head — it’s a really trippy piece from Vector Park. Follow the mouse, and see where it leads…

Sandcastles

Who could ever tire of building virtual sandcastles?

And a final piece of subtly clever fun from Vector Park — just think like a child, and have fun!

Afterword (just in case you get this far) — okay so I billed these as mindless fun for tired brains, but the reality is that, in order to be creative, we sometimes need the space to play, to indulge our curiosity, and not to think too hard. And to me, simplistic as they seem, these games tick the boxes on all counts. Enjoy :)

Author of Future Rising: A Journey from the Past to the Edge of Tomorrow, and Associate Dean in the ASU College of Global Futures

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