New Online Game, 'Brain Swaggle,' Combines Chess with Scrabble to Sharpen Vocabulary, Strategy and Cognitive Skills

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Requiring the strategy of a chess game and the vocabulary skills of a word game, the new "Brain Swaggle" online game is gaining a reputation amongst teachers, caregivers, and even medical professionals as a fun and effective way to hone brain fitness.

"This game is adaptable to all ages and abilities," said Gary Downing, founder of the game and the company of the same name. "You can select any of the 12 levels of play, so you're always thinking on your feet."

When a player logs into the game, the Brain Swaggle game board appears with a game piece for the player and computer. In order to move a game piece, the player must build a word before the computer does by taking turns choosing one letter at a time. Each new letter chosen must continue to build a valid word when added to all previously given letters. However, each turn can change your word, causing you to adjust and rethink a new strategy. The player that completes a word first gets to move his or her game piece. Game pieces move in accordance with the number of letters in the word.

Each letter must be added within a specific amount of time. If a player's time runs out or an invalid word is submitted, the game piece is moved back two spaces. Players can set the minimum number of letters to be used in creating words as well as the time limit for adding each letter. The first player to reach the end of the board wins.

Dr. David Rickson, a neurosurgeon who has practiced throughout Ohio, confirmed the cognitive benefits of the game. "Brain Swaggle requires and stimulates global brain power," he said. "Spelling alone uses four areas of the brain, and the game combines that with strategy and planning. Anyone who plays the game will see their cognition improve in ways they didn't realize they needed."

Consequently, Downing has been promoting use of the game among senior citizens. "Research by the Case Western Reserve Medical Center verifies that intellectually stimulating activities can reduce the risk of Alzheimer's or dementia," he explained. Vicki Krueger, adult day services coordinator from the Geauga County Department on Aging, agrees and approves of the game's use. "It promotes both social interaction and mental stimulation," she said.

Downing has also introduced "Brain Swaggle" to different school systems. Mrs. Jacinda Yonkers, the gifted coordinator at Wadsworth City Schools, states, "I plan to incorporate this enriching approach to academics into our curriculum and provide opportunities for classroom, district and county competitions."

Interested parties can try a seven-day free trial at http://www.brainswaggle.com and then opt for a three-, six- or 12-month subscription. "We're currently developing the game to allow players to play against each other anywhere in the world," Downing said.