Monday, August 31, 2015

Beating an Addictive Game

In July I started playing "Can You Get to Twenty" on my iPhone. It's a pairs matching game that is very simple to understand, and you can play it in a web browser here:

The game has a gentle start as you go from matching 1 tile to 10 tiles, but once you reach 10, the tiles are linked, and this can only be described as diabolical. The game increases its speed remorselessly, and I found myself bug-eyed watching all the tiles for matches. Once you start matching 15 tiles and beyond, it's haywire.

A full game from 1 to 20 would take about 10 minutes, and each time I played my body and brain would go from a relaxed to furious and frantic. I loved the sensation, however, and each time the game finished, I immediately pressed play to try again.

Was I ever able to reach 20? Yes, and I tweeted about it! But the game doesn't end at the glorious final match. The game instead continues, and once again you dive into a delicious hyper-active state.

I knew I had issues when I began to play the game immediately after dinner. No reading, no computing, no writing. Just this video game. It does allow you to start at the higher levels, so I'd start up at 15. Immediately, I'd be thrown into the hellfire of the final levels, but it was exactly what I was craving.

After a session of playing the game, my heart would be racing. It was hard to reset myself. I didn't like how long it took before I could fully unwind myself from the energy that the game generated. I didn't like how the answer to unwinding was often to play the game some more.

One night after reaching 20, and not sure whether I should start another game, I decided instead to delete it. I was feeling addicted to the game, and I didn't want to lose any more control. I did make sure to buy the in-game purchases, to reward the designers. They definitely created an addictive game, though just a bit too addictive for me.