Online games for the mildly demented snob
September 16, 2016 10:53 AM   Subscribe

Can you suggest a web based computer game that might appeal to my aging mother who is obsessed with sitting in front of the computer all day? She will like something that seems "artistic" and will turn her nose up at something that she perceives as being for the hoi palloi.

In part III or probably a million questions I will ask on this subject, I'm trying to creatively address the fact that my mother with early dementia spends all day in front of her computer. I am working on the compulsive spending there, and I am working on getting her involved in other activities, and I'm working on getting her into a day program, etc etc, but for now, she really feels most comfortable on the coach in front of her screen.

Someone here suggested I try getting her into Pinterest. I am trying that right now and hoping it will scratch her acquisitional itch online.

But I'm also looking for other harmless online activities and thinking maybe some addictive online games would be the ticket.

Ideally, the game would be very easy to learn, would give the sense of being mildly intellectual (without being too hard or confusing - her focus is limited), and would have some themes that would intrigue her. Interests include art, books, classical music, world travel, cute animals (but cartoons of cutsey animals would likely be annoying to her). This is a person who until recently volunteered to help run her local French film festival, is widely read, has an advanced degree from a fancy pants university, etc, but now has very limited capacity to remember or focus or do any complex activity. She sits with a book open in front of her but I dont' think she's actually read one, beyond reading the same page over and over, in a few years.

Any suggestions?
posted by latkes to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (20 answers total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
Orisinal has lots of simple minigames with lovely art.
posted by waffleriot at 10:56 AM on September 16, 2016 [5 favorites]

posted by Going To Maine at 10:57 AM on September 16, 2016 [2 favorites]

Do you think this NYTimes article would convince her of the artsiness of Twine games?
posted by xueexueg at 11:01 AM on September 16, 2016

My mom likes the Hidden Objects games at Big Fish. Some of them are quite beautiful.
posted by cgg at 11:30 AM on September 16, 2016

It's not a game or on a computer, but could she handle adult coloring books? It's a much cheaper way to fill time, create beautiful art, and kinda zone out for awhile.
posted by jhope71 at 11:38 AM on September 16, 2016

It's not web-based, but I recommend Mini Metro frequently here because it is simple, beautiful, and just chic as hell. Basically you set up a little abstract transit system that gradually gains ridership over time, and you try to optimize your resources as demands increase. Gameplay is simple and intuitive to learn. It can be a little stressful toward the end as your riders start to make little chirping sounds to say "I'M WAITING..." but you can also play in a mode where you just manage things smoothly on a continuous basis and it never gets intense.

The sound effects are SO SOOTHING that I actually sought them out to listen to separately.

Seriously, this game is a work of art.
posted by delight at 11:54 AM on September 16, 2016 [4 favorites]

To jhope71's recommendation of adult coloring books, I have some free apps on my phone that let me "color" (by choosing a color and clicking an enclosed white space) there. Sounds cheesy but is actually fun - when I was recently under the weather, I liked having something low stakes to do. Is a tablet or a smartphone an option? Or maybe looking for web-based versions of adult coloring?

Also, how about Duolingo? It may be totally off base for her, as I'd imagine language vocab and grammar could be way too hard with memory difficulties, but maybe it would tap into something remembered and fun and confidence-building from a few years ago? I find it charming and gently intellectual while still being fun and gamefied.
posted by bananacabana at 12:09 PM on September 16, 2016

These aren't web based, so I normally wouldn't suggest them. But Tale of Tales' games hit so many other sweet spots, they might be worth checking out.

This one especially looks like it might scratch some of her itches. I haven't played it myself, but it looks pretty readerly without actually requiring much reading, in case she's losing that ability. Plus, French.

(The system requirements are sort of all over the map, so don't give up if one of them isn't supported on her platform. I think some are mobile, some are desktop only, and they run on different OSes.)

Dementia will break your heart. I'm so sorry you're both dealing with this.
posted by ernielundquist at 12:23 PM on September 16, 2016

High Tea is a game that was part of a British museum exhibit about the opium trade to China in the 19th century. If the interest in shopping is finding bargains, that might be a hook—the object of the (rather simple) game is buy low, sell high.
posted by XMLicious at 12:32 PM on September 16, 2016

SimCity can be played online. I haven't done the online version. My favorite version is SimCity 3000, but I will recommend SimCity 4 for your mother. It is more "ooh, shiny" and has more supports for helping you not die from financial problems.

Have her turn off disasters. They can be frustrating to deal with if you are impaired.

One nice thing is that, unless you play a Scenario, the game doesn't end. You can "lose" by running your city into the ground financially, but you cannot "win." So you can play the same city for hundreds of game years.
posted by Michele in California at 12:40 PM on September 16, 2016

Maybe Fallen London? Very narrative heavy/artsy, but it's more grim than cutesy.

My mother, while not demented in any fashion but a bit intimidated by complicated computer stuff, adores Amazing Adventures Around The World, which is a globetrotting seek&find game.

Some of these games are available on Steam, and it might be good to get your mother a Steam account. If you do, Mini Metro is AMAZING and pretty much my platonic ideal of "games as the art of systems", so I'll second that. Stardew Valley is adorable and not very demanding but very absorbing. Little Inferno is an art game that does not require hard thinking.
posted by foxfirefey at 12:52 PM on September 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

Oh! And if she ends up liking SimCity, there's a game called Cities in Motion that just builds public transit networks. I think the original first version would be most accessible to her.
posted by foxfirefey at 12:52 PM on September 16, 2016 [1 favorite]


A number game a 9 by 9 chart with some numbers filled in from 1 to 81. You try to figure out the number for a given box. It is a great stress reliever. And it gives hints if you can't figure it out.
posted by JayRwv at 1:18 PM on September 16, 2016

I like Osmos in that it's lovely, has some pleasing music, is a little challenging but rarely gets super speedy. It's my "unwind" game.
posted by jessamyn at 1:37 PM on September 16, 2016 [1 favorite]


In a similar vein, Alcazar is a maze game where there’s only one valid path from entrance-to-exit but the grid is mostly empty space with a few walls. It’s available for Android and iOS or as a booklet. Definitely a go-to de-stressor, but if your mother enjoys them she will likely complete all of the available puzzles.
posted by Going To Maine at 1:50 PM on September 16, 2016

Response by poster: Hi folks, thanks for the suggestions. I got some good ideas for my own game playing I think, but after trying a few of these with my mom today, many of them are actually too complex or fast for her. Researching further, I found a couple untimed, gentle games that she might play if I remind her, like Where is Cat which is self-paced, has original art, no flashing anything, "classical" sounding music.

Maybe I can get her into bubble shooter?

I have to be able to bookmark the game on her browser. Incorporating a new application like Steam isn't going to happen.

anyhow, thanks again.
posted by latkes at 12:04 AM on September 17, 2016

How about online jigsaw puzzles? Some are arty and range from "solvable in minutes" to "takes weeks to finish". Thousands to choose from.
posted by a humble nudibranch at 12:00 PM on September 17, 2016

posted by Michele in California at 12:08 PM on September 17, 2016

Samorast has 'artistic' art. Or see if Orsinal's games are still around.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 10:41 PM on September 18, 2016

Regency Solitaire
posted by clorox at 8:01 PM on September 28, 2016

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