Pay Attention As You Read This
E-mail. Text messaging. Social networks. The Internet. Every day in our modern world, distractions such as these constantly divide up our attention and pull us away from things we ought to be doing. At work, at school, and at home it is a common thing to feel the need to turn away from the people around us to compulsively check what our Facebook friends are doing, tweet a random thought, or just surf the internet. Even I can attest to the fact that I've occasionally been distracted from my GameDynamo work by the sudden urge to see what's going on in the Gamersphere (heh heh, sorry, guys).
For those suffering from a susceptibility to these modern distractions, those suffering from "information addiction", the digital floating head of Dr. Ryuta Kawashima will soon be here to help in the latest installment in the Brain Age series, Brain Age: Concentration Training.
Unlike the previous games in the series, where the goal was merely to keep one's brain functioning sharply, Concentration Training sets out to help people strengthen their "working memory", the part of their brain that allows them to focus on tasks and other things. And to make this happen, digi-Kawashima will throw a slew of new exercises that will probably make you feel like an inattentive idiot at first.
The majority of these consist of "Devilish Training" exercises, where a demon-horned Kawashima (which is really just to illustrate the devilish level of challenge that awaits) will lead you through a five-minute-a-day set of working memory-enhancing activities. One activity, for example, will have you solving simple math problems that appear on the top screen, with the catch being that you can only see the problem that you have to solve next, and not the one you're currently solving.
Another one will have you trying to pay attention to the location of mice hidden under a grid of question boxes as cats push them in and out from under the squares. Other activities in Brain Age: Concentration Training will test you on how well you can memorize the order of numbered balls hidden under moving cups, match pairs of cards with their faces down, and more. By progressing through these, you will unlock more challenging activities for you to strain your brain through. However, you will have to pay close attention if you want to advance.
Interestingly, the game scales the difficulty depending on how well you perform. Do really well, and you will move up a level. Do okay, and you'll stay where you are. Do badly, and you will be taken down a notch. In this way, Concentration Training will be able to increase or decrease the challenge to better suit your progress.
The Devilish Training challenges are not the only mental exercises to be found. Rounding things off will be a secondary mode designed to help you speed up your working memory, brain-training activities much like the ones in previous Brain Age games, and a mode where players can cool their skulls with a collection of puzzle mini-games that include a Dr. Mario clone. The game will also come with over a hundred in-game achievements and a number of mini-lectures from Dr. Kawashima about the way the brain works.
Will this make you smarter? Will it help you focus better and avoid giving in to distractions? The answers to those questions will come in a few weeks, when Brain Age: Concentration Training arrives in the States and the rest of North America on February 10, or March 8 in Europe.
A writer, journalist, and aspiring storyteller, Peter Grimm has been gaming since the days of the Nintendo 64, and reporting on the goings-on in the World of Gaming since late 2011. His base of writing operations is located within the void between Here and There, or so he would have you think.
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