Racing games, shooting games, sports games, games based on finance, and even fantasy games. All of the best games have some element of math involved.
A stigma remains among some older folks who still think that games offer little more than a distraction from the real world and are bad for young people.
But perception is gradually changing. Many gamers will vehemently argue that games taught them a lot about math among many other things.
You’ll find many math games at the aptly named ‘Cool Math Games,’ but don’t limit your options to just that platform—some are not related to math at all.
But many of the most engaging games are not free online browser games, but longer paid games that you need a console or to install to a PC.
What Is the Best Math Game in the World?
Some deal strictly with calculation while others are more abstract with a stronger focus on problem-solving. Here are our top 9.
1. Papa’s Pizzeria
Consistently ranked one of the most popular games on Cool Math Games, Papa’s Pizzeria is not directly a math game, but more of a problem-solving skills game.
The player needs to consider the time, cut, and size for each pizza, and you gain money for good pizzas, plus there are performance statistics at the end of each day.
Papa’s Pizzeria gets consistently harder as you go on, as you deal with multiple complex orders. And if pizza is not your thing, there are other games like Papa’s Pizzeria.
Where to find it: Papa’s Pizzeria can be found on Cool Math Games.
2. Nitro Math
Nitro Math is a similar concept to Nitro Type where the player wins a race by typing a paragraph faster than the other competitors, but the gameplay is quite different.
Instead of typing to go faster, you don’t drive in a straight line, and you have control over the direction of the car, you’re given a math question and need to drive toward the answer.
Only came out in 2022 and is currently in beta, so expect plenty of bugs and technical hiccups. Further to that, it’s only available for Nitro Gold Members, so it’s not for free.
In the coming years, we’ll probably see the free version’s release and it could become very popular.
Where to find it: On the Nitro Math website.
3. Penalty Kick Online
Penalty Kick Online is a soccer game with at least two players (you can play against the computer or with a friend), one taking a penalty kick, and the other as the goalkeeper.
So, where’s the math? Math comes in when you score your first shot and get the chance to shoot again if you can answer a math question.
Furthermore, you could also say there is an element of math in that you need to learn trajectory and chance (as the goalkeeper). There is also an XP and leveling system.
Where to find it: Penalty Kick Online can also be found on Cool Math Games.
Bloxorz is one of my all-time favorite games, I never even thought of it as a math game, more of a puzzle, but you need math skills to figure out each stage.
You’re a rectangular block and how you move across the game depends on what side of the rectangle you move—it could be one space, or you could roll across many in groups of two.
The objective is to get the rectangle into the square hole at the end without falling off the platform, and there are plenty of traps and obstacles along the way.
Where to find it: At Cool Math Games.
5. Maths games: Zombie Invasion
Do you like zombies and unicorns with shotguns? Is that a ‘Yes?’ Then you’re probably going to love Maths games: Zombie Invasion.
This game teaches addition, subtraction, multiplication, and equations (you choose which area you want to focus on). To shoot down zombies, you need to get the answer correct.
Maths games: Zombie Invasion is an app and must be installed on a device, so it could be a great option to download for your kid’s tablet.
Where to find it: Install Maths games: Zombie Invasion from Google Play.
6. Football Manager
We’re quite literally kicking it up a notch with Football Manager, the biggest soccer manager game or ‘fantasy sports game,’ if you will.
Football Manager is not about playing the actual football but is more about statistics (which players play best together), finance (don’t bankrupt your team), and probability (who’ll win?).
While Football Manager is the most popular globally, there are other games like this, like Fantasy NFL which is popular among American football fans in the US.
Where to find it: You can find Football Manager 2022 (the latest version) on the Football Manager website.
7. The Sims (Series)
While many elements of The Sims are not finance-orientated, money makes the game go around, and obtaining it is typically the goal. Playing with little money is particularly tough.
You need to pay bills and buy things, and that means you need to work. It’s important to learn how to budget yourself or risk losing what you have to the repo man.
And on certain expansion packs, you can open a business where you’ll need to set prices and need to manage money properly to survive and thrive.
Where to find it: You can now get The Sims 4 for free at EA.com, but expansion packs are still paid.
RuneScape is a fantasy multiplayer game that’s been around since the early 2000s. It struggled to compete with World of Warcraft, but math is crucial to the game.
Buying and selling items on RuneScape among players is a big part of the game, as is completing actions to gain enough XP for certain tasks.
Today, there are two versions of RuneScape, the classic version, which still has super loyal players, and RuneScape Reborn, a more modern take on the game.
Where to find it: You can find both the new and classic versions of RuneScape on their website.
9. SimCity (Series)
More complex than The Sims, in SimCity you manage a whole city (or cities in later versions). You take out loans, build infrastructure, maintain your approval rate, and set taxes.
You also need to think about city layout—you can’t just stick the city dump next to the local elementary school! Just think what that would do to house prices!
And on a spatial level, with a limited amount of room, you’ve got to figure out how to make it all fit. In older versions, you could even construct underground water pipes and subways.
Where to find it: You can find several versions of SimCity at EA.com.
What Makes a Good Math Game?
Math is a broad topic. It’s not just addition and subtraction and dealing with numbers. Arguably, the best math games teach players something they can use in everyday life.
This is why some of the most popular games with math are finance-related. Managing money is important (and, of course, the idea of earning cash can be quite addictive).
On another level, problem-solving skills through puzzles are another useful way players can improve their math skills with games.
According to a study by The Mathematical Association of Victoria, to keep students engaged, “games should balance skill and luck.”
The reason is that it’ll prevent those better at math from dominating games and give a chance to those less mathematically abled.
Can Video Games Help You With Math?
Yes, there is evidence that suggests that games support kids’ and teenagers’ ability to learn math skills.
Results from a 2016 study by the International Journal of Communication appear to suggest teens who regularly played video games scored better in math exams.
Though, perhaps one area that video games lack in support of math learning is complex equations and formulas.
However, the argument can also be made that by learning how video games work, you can learn equations.
Many video games rely on equations and formulas to function. This is especially the case with game physics.
Why Are Math Games Good for Children?
Math games are a terrific way to teach children math because they can learn without knowing it.
Furthermore, it motivates them to participate, and they learn through participation instead of being taught the answers.
And lastly, it teaches them that math is more than just numbers on worksheets, it can be found everywhere and that there is an advantage to knowing math—you can win games.