We've been playing Tetris for over thirtyyears, quickly rotating and aligning those falling blocks. It seems like a simple gameby today's standards, but it taps into our psychology in a pretty complex way. Some sayit boosts brain power, but it can be highly addictive. Is there a tipping point where Tetris goesfrom being good to badé In one study a group played Tetris one anda half hours a week for three months and researchers found it changed the structure of their brain.Their cerebral cortex, the outer layer of the brain, became thicker in certain places.And other areas of their brains became more
efficient â€“ over time they used less glucoseto fuel the same task. Butâ€¦ we can't really tell how some changesin brain structure affect your brain function. And if you did another task for three months,like play Mario Kart or drive a real car around Rainbow Road, that would change the structureof your brain too. Another study looked at whether Tetris couldreduce flashbacks for people with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Participants were shown traumaticfilm clips, then half were assigned to play Tetris and the other half just sat there quietly.The participants' flashbacks were monitored for a week, and those who didn't play Tetrisreported having twice as many flashbacks compared
to the Tetris group. The researchers called Tetris a â€œcognitivevaccineâ€� â€“ it interferes with the consolidation of traumatic visual memories because playingit means both our working memory and visual processing are occupied. By blocks. Tetris can also be pretty addictive. It appealsto our natural desire to organize things, complete tasks and achieve goals. It playson the â€œZeigarnik Effect,â€� the brain's tendency to remember incomplete tasks betterthan complete ones. Wait wait wait, how did you get in hereé I'vegot something I want to say.
Ahh, here's Jamin from Game Show. Oh, hey! I'm gonna talk about Tetris. Tetrisis a continuous stream of incomplete tasks. If you're always presented with more linesof blocks â€“ or tetrominos â€“ with no break between levels, matching those blocks to emptyspaces becomes addictive. It gives you a constant sense of achievement. And the solution is presented at the sametime as the unfinished task, making your action rotating the blocks with keys or buttons fasterthan your spatial judgement. You think WITH the game instead of about it â€“ it's calledEpistemic Action. Few games allow for that
immediate connection between problem and solution. It's been reported that some people becomeso hooked on Tetris they experience â€œThe Tetris Effect,â€� where thoughts of Tetrisconsume your nongaming hours. You may dream about completing more lines and mentally fittingeveryday objects together as I sometimes do. Or try to arrange your furniture in a moretidy pattern. But it's difficult to say why some gamesare helpful for some people, and harmful to others. For starters, there are individual differencesin why we become addicted. Research suggests
that longer gaming time and reduced socialcompetence increases the likelihood of gaming addiction. And these benefits of Tetris haveonly been observed in a lab. Perhaps we found benefits because we were looking for them. The question of Tetris being good or bad iskind of like a bigâ€¦ puzzle. For now, you can just keep on playing. Inmoderation. If you want to know more about the designof Tetris, check out Jamin's episode. I got a whole episode about the design behindit, you should absolutely check it out. Over on GameShow! here.