Breaking Down the World’s Brainiest Hobbies – Intellectual Pursuits


Everyone likes to have fun and, today, there are an unprecedented number of ways to enjoy your downtime. The most popular forms of entertainment include things like playing video games, watching TV shows and films, exploring social media, and listening to music. Though gaming takes a bit of mental power (and even hand-eye coordination), most people game to relax. 

But that doesn’t mean all hobbies embody traditional downtime. For those with active and curious outlooks, the average activity simply won’t meet their needs and interests. Let’s dive into some of the world’s brainiest hobbies and what makes them so appealing to certain people.



Some people might imagine a lively casino floor when they picture blackjack, thinking back to films like Rain Man or 21. However, most people stick to online platforms when it comes to playing blackjack today, both for convenience and bonus deals. Regardless of where they play, whether via virtual sites or at a local brick-and-mortar casino, blackjack buffs are pushing their brains to the limit.

Players must hit the number 21 without going over—but the game involves tons of probabilities and mathematics. Depending on the number of decks being used in the game, a player can estimate which cards are likely to show up next. So, it’s popular for those who like to juggle numerical data and contend with the unknown.


The Rubik’s cube was one of the most exciting inventions of the 1970s—and it’s still got a captive audience. One of the most challenging and rewarding pastimes is the art of speedcubing or solving a Rubik’s cube in a certain amount of time. For most people, solving a Rubik’s cube could take up to a month—if not a year.

But for speedcubers, the goal is to complete a Rubik’s cube in around five seconds. To add a bit more flare to the competitions, many speedcubers compete under difficult conditions, including solving with one hand, blindfolded, or in as few moves as possible.



The world of robotics is incredibly diverse. At its most basic, robotics hobbyists are looking to create a robot that will perform a certain task. If they’re entering a competition, their creation might need to solve a puzzle, perform a rescue mission, compete in a sport, or even engage in combat with other robots. 

Because robotics is a pricey and prohibitive industry, many competitions take place online. Virtual formats allow hobbyists to try new things with their robotics creations, as well as engage with other robotics fans around the world. Many competitions today are hosted virtually in order to allow more participants from around the world to join in.

Miniatures & Figure Painting

Paint Miniature Figures

The art of painting and crafting miniatures might not sound too brainy. In fact, it might sound more suited toward artistic types who enjoy creating things with their hands. However, the level of attention to detail that most miniature hobbyists put into their work is nothing short of academic. 

Oftentimes, figure painting accompanies an RPG tabletop game, such as Dungeons & Dragons. Other times, they portray historical dioramas and scenes. In the case of the latter, many miniature figure painters spend copious amounts of time researching their content. This means that down to the color and wardrobe of their figurines, they’re able to create scenes that are historically accurate.

Magic Tricks

Similar to blackjack, the idea of performing magic tricks probably brings to mind a few over-the-top images—and possibly a casino in Las Vegas. However, magicians do a lot more than pulling rabbits out of hats to stun their spectators. In fact, most are actually working within the field of psychology to pull off their greatest stunts. 

Along with being able to move their hands quickly and work with materials subtly, magicians also need to know their audience. They need to understand what a person expects to see, and then subvert this expectation with fancy tricks. For example, misdirection is a common tool, in which a magician manipulates their audience by drawing their attention to a specific point in order to control what they’re seeing.



If there’s one skill today that’s often overlooked and underrated, it’s DJing. The original disc jockey had one job: keep the music coming and narrate the action. Today, DJs have a much tougher job, which involves mixing songs together so that they flow seamlessly. And while many people assume DJs are simply hitting buttons at a live show, many are also mixing.

Mixing requires DJs to understand each song, including its structure, BPM, and compression—to name a few. Those who mix live will then layer songs together according to structure and theme. Depending on how a party is unfolding, they may even alter their set live to meet an audience’s needs.


Knitting is usually associated with older generations who are searching for a relaxing pastime. However, there’s a big reason that handcrafts (including knitting, crochet, and needlework) are gaining popularity once again—it’s because they’re a lot more involved than most think. Knitters, for example, can learn thousands of different patterns as they advance with their craft.

Many of these patterns are historical, as well. Knitting books were first penned in England starting in the 1600s. Since then, patterns from different cultures and regions have been documented. In some places, such as western Ireland, these patterns actually tell a story. Viewed in this way, knitting carries the legacy of various cultures and languages.


For those who don’t know, a ‘mod’ is a modification made to a popular video game. Just like a super-fan of a book or film might pen their own ‘fan fiction’, fans of video games can create their own unique modifications that change a game or certain levels. That’s right—if a gamer has an understanding of both programming and their favorite title, they can actually change up the game themselves.

Unsurprisingly, modding takes a lot of skill and experience. However, those who succeed in creating a popular mod can become famous. For example, the game Counter-Strike, one of the world’s most popular shooter games, was originally developed as a mod for the late 90s shooter game Half-Life.

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