For some people, a pursuit is only fun if it provides a mental challenge. One example of this is jigsaw puzzles, which we covered in our article on the Best Free Online Jigsaw Puzzles. Discovering the connections between seemingly unrelated pieces allows us to develop greater logic and more effective critical thinking skills.
Even more challenging than these are circuit board games, which have been growing in popularity due to rising interest in the tech industry. If you’re thinking of pursuing a career in programming and electronics, it can be difficult to know where to start. Picking up an actual circuitry kit, or playing an online game can help you learn new skills and provide an intro to more advanced concepts.
It’s making connections that help keep our brain sharp, and circuit board games are simple and fun enough for hours of idle entertainment. In Altium’s guide to PCB connectors, they explain how connectors abound on printed circuit assemblies because of the integrated electrical equipment and their internal electronics. There are several types of plugs and sockets within circuit boards, all serving their own purpose, and figuring these out in a puzzle game and getting a circuit board properly configured is a great achievement.
For a dual combo of fun and education, here’s a list of the best circuit board games you should check out this:
One of the most basic games out there, Pong appears deceptively simple to the casual gamer. Essentially, it involves two players playing digital ping pong. However, engineering this game on your own is another matter. On Wired’s list of DIY electronic games, Pong tops the list if you’re wishing to start at the serious end of DIY programming microcontrollers. The good news is that “the game’s simple enough to act as a code tutorial for non-programmers, and the rest is down to you and your soldering iron.” For those who are interested, ThinkGeek sells a DIY Pong kit, and there’s even a DIY wristwatch version of pong for true fanatics of the game.
Geared towards teens, the University of Cambridge designed a game to teach basic electrical concepts. Released in 2018, Wired is free to download online and play. According to Diarmid Campbell, the game’s designer, “A video game is an ideal way to teach students about electricity as it allows players to visualize the underlying concepts and the relationships between them. It provides a structure for incremental challenges, each one building on previous ones, and there is a set of tried and tested motivational techniques that can encourage people to push through tricky areas.” Instead of tedious learning from textbooks, students can learn about key areas such as the logic of switches, current, resistance, and voltage, to give them an intuitive method of understanding.
3. Minecraft Logic Gates
If you’re a fan of Minecraft, did you know that you could actually create circuits in their Creative Mode? All About Circuits describes how you can implement digital logic gates like AND, OR, NOT, and XOR in a game-like setting. Eventually, you can create “combinatorial circuits like adders, flip-flops, bit shifters, and two’s complement negation.” The possibilities and implications of these are endless because you can create memory circuits or even a fully functional computer. All you need is a building element known as “Redstone” and some other in-game objects.
By playing one or all of these games, you’re sure to be well on your way to becoming a genius in the world of engineering!