Genre:  Puzzle, Educational
Platform:  PC

Have you ever wanted to learn how to program computers?  Human Resource Machine (available on Steam) will teach you in a fun and simple way!  You will be having so much fun, however, that you might not realize you’re learning!

In this game, you start as a fresh employee of a large corporation.  You start out where everyone seems to start in fake companies, in the mail room.  You start with a very basic set of tasks – move items from one conveyor belt to another.  You do so by issuing your character a set of commands.  The levels grow increasingly complicated and it can get hard to keep your commands and jumps straight.

This game really does a good job of teaching those without any programming skills, and even those with a low-level of knowledge, the logical thinking which is necessary in programming.  I have a mid-level of programming knowledge and I was just itching for some of the tools that I’m more familiar with (if…then statements, please!), but it is still a really fun game.

If you’ve ever wanted to learn programming but found it too daunting, try this game first.

Oldies But Goodies – Number Munchers

Genre:  Educational
Platform:  PC

I came in to school at a great time in history.  Home computers were newly affordable, which meant that they had a couple of them in schools.  They began using games as teaching tools, and we were learning while having fun and not even realizing it.  One of these early games that I remember is Number Muchers.  There were several “Munchers” games after that, but this was the first.

You played as the hero, the number muncher.  I’m not sure what you were trying to save and I don’t think there was much of a story behind this game.  Anyway, it was your job to “munch” the numbers (press the space bar) that fit the category at the top.  It typically focused in number multiples, but sometimes it would be prime numbers and other varieties.  The Troggles attempted to foil your plans for heroism.  They were cute monsters that were trying to eat you.  Every time you moved a square, they moved a square.  They started out pretty random, but on later levels, they had some AI and made the game more and more difficult.

I remember this game very fondly.  So much, in fact, that I just bought a Number Munchers t-shirt.  You can still find this game online in various forms.  If you want to play the original, you can find it on abandonware sites and play it using a DOS emulator such as DOSBox.  It’s a blast from my past and I’d be interested to know how many of you also played this game in school!

Brain Games – Brain Age 2

Genre:  Eductional
Platform:  Nintendo DS

Video games are fun, but we can also be taught while we play them.  And we have fun doing so.  There are tons of games in this category for the DS alone.  One of the best examples that I can think of in this category is Brain Age 2 for the Nintendo DS.  There’s a Brain Age 1, but I haven’t played it.  I’m sure it’s just as good, but Brain Age 2 is what I know.

This game is designed to help keep your brain sharp.  You’re not going to feel like a whiz if you play this all day.  You’re supposed to play it in short bursts, but do so every day.  I did this for about a month and I do feel like it helped a bit.  My memory increased, or it felt like it did, which is a big deal for me because I have a terrible short-term memory.

This collection of exercises includes math, memory, logic, music and other types of games.  They are all fun in their own right.  My favorite were the music games, but that’s probably because I’m a musical person.  There aren’t enough music theory games out there.  I am going to go research those games to see if there are any.  Anyway, I would recommend trying this out if you want to give your brain a little workout every morning.