A fellow computer programmer I used to work with emailed me about this site a few days ago, Happy Neuron. He knew how much I enjoy brain teaser puzzles and the like (probably from when I interviewed him for a job). I thought I’d check it out and see what it was all about.
Flash Games and More
At first glance it looks like yet another Flash games site, one geared toward brain teaser type games. Plus, it isn’t free. It costs $9.99 a month after the 7 day free trial. So what do you get for your money vs. those 100’s of free sites?
First of all, the games are high quality. I’m used to seeing games crash or even being used as fronts to install malware on free sites. You won’t find any of this nonsense on Happy Neuron. The games are well designed and there are no ads. Here’s a screen shot of their version of the classic Towers of Hanoi game:
Another bonus is that your skill at the games is monitored by a personalized “virtual coach” that tracks your progress and suggests games to play to improve your weak areas. It also compares your performance on a anonymous demographic basis so you know how you’re doing as compared to others who use the site. If you’re just looking for straight game play this may not appeal to you but if you want to use the games to improve your mental skills this can really help.
One thing they’re trying to sell you on is the health benefits of the games. As you might guess, a lot of this is being directed toward aging Baby Boomers who want to avoid neurological health issues associated with aging ranging from simple memory loss to full blown Alzheimer’s. I’ve seen a lot of console games, like the Wii and DS Lite, touting this recently and there seems to be something to it based on recent research.
All in all, I found the site to be high quality and well programmed. I’m always a sucker for a well programmed site, particularly if it’s done in ASP.NET where I do the lion’s share of my professional programming. I’m also impressed at how seamlessly they combined the Windows and Linux portions of their domain.
They also have a WordPress blog that has some good articles on it related to improving brain function as well as the company and the games. It’s a good example of how to do a corporate blog.
Is It Worth It?
I think it’s worth the subscription fee, particularly if you like the type and variety of games they offer and if you think the coaching and neurological health will benefit you. It’s certainly the kind of site that you would need to use regularly to get the most out of it so it may not be ideal for the occasional player. Casual players should look elsewhere but if you’re serious about taking advantage of what they have to offer then it’s worth the price.
Would it be better than a computer or gaming console based application? Perhaps. The coaching and demographic comparison are probably the biggest selling point here as well as the ability to access it from anywhere you have Internet access.
Am I extending my subscription beyond the trial? I’m not sure yet. I’ve had some fun playing around with it during the trial but I’m not sure if I would have the time to devote to getting the most out of it.
What do you think of mental development games? Would this be something you would sign up for, even at a price?