We all have our guilty pleasures, or rather embarrassing habits that we wouldn’t share with others, due to the unmanageable fear of being completely ridiculed. For some it might be eating an entire jar of peanut butter before bed, or even listening to the backstreet boys on repeat, but for me, it was Tetris.
One stressful night of cramming for deadlines just before the Christmas break; Tetris provided me with the ideal soothing sensation that a cup of Rooibos vanilla tea had failed to do that night. Unexpectedly, I soon after found myself resorting to Tetris every time that I was feeling stressed or nervous. Once I realised how beneficial it was to assort colourful blocks onto an online platform, I ended up researching the game. It turns out the ‘Tetris effect’ was actually a proven benefit that helped my brain, by making it more efficient as it worked less and less each time to perform the same activity.
Tetris had become my most intellectual and beneficial way of procrastination. It helped with my concentration, it calmed me down and, most of all, it was fun. Tetris was simply amazing. However, like most games out there, I quickly became addicted to it and when I went back home for Christmas, I couldn’t even watch a complete Christmas edition episode of Eastenders without having to play Tetris on the side. Things got even worse when I dropped out of my course at the end of January. What I thought would have been an enjoyable five months of catching up on everything that I had been putting off during university because I had claimed to be ‘too busy;’ shortly turned into an obsession over Tetris.
As my flatmates were stressing over their essays during dinner, I was too preoccupied stressing over how fast the blocks were moving on level 34. Little did I know, that my newly discovered, so-called ‘talent’ for Tetris ended up taking over my life. At first, I was convinced that finding myself curled up on the kitchen sofa playing multiple captivating games wasn’t the worst thing I could’ve been doing on a gloomy Monday night.
You only realise how hooked you’ve become though, once you make the conscious choice to stay in on a Saturday night to play Tetris, when the rest of your friends (who were actually enrolled on a course) went out clubbing. Dancing your heart out to the sound of aggressive rap bangers in top ten isn’t necessarily everyone’s’ cup of tea, but systematically playing the same game every day had turned into an unhealthy habit.
In the same way that when wanting to log into Facebook, most people just type ‘f’ into their URL, and their browser automatically recognises what they’re searching for. When most people type ‘t,’ into their browser, a drop down list of websites usually appears with Tumblr, Twitter, or even The Times; but for me it was Tetris.
I would robotically log into it and fixate on it for hours, to the stage where I wouldn’t even go through the effort of starting from level one. I’d skip to level ten, so I could reach my high score faster. Never did I think that this simple little Russian video game would consume me so much, to the point where I’d have dreams about it, but I wish I were joking when I say I have nightmares about Tetris blocks falling on my head.
Even writing now about my past addiction forcing me to fight an unbearable urge to play the game right now. I’m not going to lie, I’ve had many relapses since I decided to detox the game in September, but when I play in moderation I like to believe that I only inherit the positives of the ‘Tetris effect’: increased efficiency and concentration. Returning home after changing course caused some of my flatmates to suggest I had gone to ‘Tetris rehab,’ others just believed what I had told them. However, the one thing we do know is that, just for a short while, Tetris ruined my life.
If you also want Tetris to ruin your life, start here with this free online flash version of the game.