Playing Mahjong Online: The Mental Benefits

SportsPlaying Mahjong Online: The Mental Benefits

From the day we were born, life has continually thrown obstacles our way, but activities such as Mahjong have been a sigh of relief.

Originating from 19th-century southern China, this challenging game traditionally entails forming complete sets to win a valid Mahjong hand ahead of your opponents.

Now, Mahjong has made its way online in the form of Mahjong Solitaire, where the goal is to empty the board by coupling pairs of alike tiles, focusing on solo puzzle-solving and enjoyment.

You might think this online adaptation would diminish the essence of the game, but you’d be mistaken. The online version retains the traditional symbols, and sometimes even includes music to preserve that authentic Chinese atmosphere.

There’s even more to enjoy: with just a click on some Mahjong sites, you can change the game’s layout, apply seasonal themes and undo moves. Some will give you a built-in timer, too. Could you get all these offline? A resounding NO!

Most importantly, the reason we’re here: online Mahjong (Mahjong Solitaire) provides the same mental benefits as the traditional game. 

Let’s take a closer look at those benefits.

Mahjong: Benefits Beyond the Tiles

#1. Cognitive Enhancement

Enhances Memory

As a Mahjong player, you’re constantly exercising your memory by recognising and recalling numerous tiles, symbols, and combinations. You cannot simply survive in the game without these foundational abilities. 

To illustrate, you must remember which tiles have been discarded and which combinations are still possible. This continuous engagement strengthens your recall abilities, benefiting everyday tasks, for example, remembering names, appointments, or shopping lists.

Improves Concentration

Mahjong demands intense focus as players track their own tiles, and plan their next steps. This focused attention helps players make strategic decisions and avoid costly mistakes. 

The concentration skills developed in Mahjong can translate to improved focus in other areas of life, such as work or studies.

Boosts Problem-Solving Skills

In the life we live, where problems are a daily occurrence, you will be left behind if you do not sharpen a skill as important as problem-solving to navigate life’s bush of thorns gracefully. 

Mahjong, a game of strategy, polishes this skill by requiring you to constantly analyse the game state, and assess potential moves. 

For instance, deciding whether to “chow” (form a run) with a discarded tile or hold onto it in hopes of a more valuable combination demands strategic thinking, and rapid decision-making.

#2. Emotional Well-being

Reduces Stress

Mahjong’s engrossing gameplay, coupled with its calming visuals, can be incredibly relaxing. Taking a break from the daily grind to immerse yourself in the game offers a much-needed mental escape. 

The pleasure and satisfaction from playing Mahjong can enrich emotional well-being and lower stress levels.

#3. Prevention of Cognitive Decline

Keeps the Brain Active

Keeping the brain active through regular mental stimulation is a must for cognitive health, particularly as we age. Mahjong’s rules, strategic elements, and constant need for adaptation provide a vigorous workout for the brain. 

This mental engagement is invaluable, as the Bronx 20-year longitudinal Aging Study on PubMed indicates that puzzle games such as Mahjong may help preserve cognitive function and delay age-related decline (including dementia) by 2.5 years.

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