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Intellectual Games


Disciplines > Game Design > Types of Game > Intellectual Games

Description | Example | Discussion | See also



Intellectual games are games of skill that require significant intelligence and cognitive effort.

Intellectual games may be largely based on a wide or deep knowledge, where the major test is the person's ability to remember and recall. They may be played by a single person alone, by two people competing against one another, by a number of people all competing against one another, or by teams each competing against all others.

They may well include a significant degree of problem-solving, where cryptic puzzles need to be solved or multiple sequences of moves planned. In games with two or more players, a good understanding of psychology can be helpful and perhaps also skill in deceit.


Single player intellectual games include such as puzzles, crosswords and sudoko.

Two player games include such as chess, go and checkers.

Multi-player individual games include treasure hunts and knowledge knockout tournaments.

Multi-player team games include such as panels games and trivia quizzes.


Intellectual games are, unsurprisingly, preferred by people who are relatively intelligent and who have a depth of knowledge or good problem-solving and creative skills. This does not mean you have to be a genius to play intellectual games as the game can be designed for the average intellect of any given target audience, including children (and learners of all ages, for that matter). Intellectual games can hence be a good way of making learning fun. Knowledge games can also be customized to particular target segments, with subjects ranging from science to sports to TV dramas.

Designing intellectual games to suit a particular range of ability can be an interesting challenge as if too many or too few answers can be answered, the player may not enjoy the game. Significant creativity may be used in intellectual game design as novelty is introduced in ways to challenge memory and new thinking. A classic example is 'Trivial Pursuit' which combined board games with intellectual games in a format that could be played by a wide range of people.

Intellectual games play particularly to the needs for cognitive arousal, novelty and stimulation, without which intelligent people quickly become bored. It is perhaps a curse of having an active brain that it needs to be kept constantly busy.

Intelligence tests or any academic examination may be viewed as a form of game as they ask puzzling questions which can create enjoyment as the respondent discovers the answers.

See also

Need for Arousal, Desire


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