At Starbie, we offer a collection of free puzzle games in which players must look at the pictures carefully to spot the differences. These games are sometimes also referred to as ‘Photo Hunt’ games after the
In spot the differences games, players are presented with two photographs or illustrations. The images look completely identical, but small changes have been made to one of the pictures using photo manipulation. The aim is to examine the pictures closely and find the differences. Usually, each set of pictures will feature five differences, but sometimes creators choose to add fewer or more. The game will always indicate how many differences the player must find to complete each level.
Some games are timed, and so the player must quickly identify the differences. People who have a good eye for details might be very good at this, but for those who struggle to find the differences there’s a secret technique: it might look a little funny, but by stepping back and crossing one’s eyes, the player can merge the picture into a single image. The differences will then seem to flicker in and out of existence, making them easier to find. This technique is surprisingly quick and effective!
Sometimes, there will be one or two changes that are extremely difficult to spot. However, once the player has found the difference, it seems glaringly obvious. How come spot the differences puzzles can take so long to solve if the changes are actually very simple? Why can we immediately spot the differences when the pictures are overlayed (similar to the technique of crossing one’s eyes), but not when they are presented side by side? This effect is called ‘change blindness’ and it’s a very common phenomenon. Researchers have noticed that if a viewer is distracted by something, or an image flicks off and on again, significant changes can be introduced to a picture without the viewer noticing at all!
However, there are some factors that influence the degree of change blindness people experience. Distractions and the way the image is presented can influence whether people notice a change, but also whether the change occurs in the foreground or in the background of the picture. We tend to be better at spotting changes in the foreground, so if a difference is hard to spot in one of these puzzles, it’s more likely to be a change made to the image’s background. Another significant factor is age: younger people tend to spot the differences faster than older people. Maybe that’s why these puzzles are so popular with children. Nevertheless, spot the differences puzzles can be a good brain training exercise for anyone, regardless of age.
For players who enjoy different kind of photo search games, we also have a collection of Hidden Object games in which players can complete an adventure story or solve a mystery by searching for hidden objects in a series of images and locations. In our Search and Find games, players can search manipulated images for hidden items, search a 3D environment for hidden treasures, or search for hidden words in a selection of Word Search games. Have fun playing!