Lumosity is marketed as a game that was co-designed by game designers and scientists to improve the player’s cognitive functions. This simple wording already forms the basis of their conditioning, but it definitely works.
The app has a mini-game that opens explaining what cognitive function it strengthens. The games are ‘scientifically’ broken down into five different modes: velocity, flexibility, resolution of clues, attention, and memory. I play each game with these goals in mind (sometimes not always understanding exactly how the mini-game is designed for these goals). The game mechanics are simple, which usually require just a touch to the screen. Because the game rules themselves are sometimes difficult to grasp the first time, Lumosity does a great job at scaffolding with short, easy tutorials. When I get combos or correct answers, the sounds are pleasant. When I mess up, the game makes an unpleasant, yet gentle sound and sometimes allows the player to correct their error. Failure is just as accepted as it is in Lumosity as it is in any other game. The game is so ‘juicy’ with encouraging text after each game, lots of in- and out-of-game compliments, no matter how well or bad I performed.
As a response to the exclusivity of hardcore games, Jesper Juul has defined casual games as a game for all ages that have the following five characteristics: fiction, usability, interruptibility, difficulty, and ‘juiciness.’ In the table below, I will judge Lumosity according to Juul’s characteristics for a casual game.