Crushing on Candy Crush

By Fouad Alaa

EVER SINCE the evolution of gaming in the 1980s, it is obvious that some games are just so much more addictive than others. It is not just about the graphics or even the levels of difficulty or engagement, it is all about the simple endless games that might make you miss all the important appointments and earn you another procrastination badge.




Pac-Man is considered one of the most famous classic games ever created, even to the point of being an icon of 80s pop culture and a timeless social phenomenon. ‘Eat’ all the dots in the blue maze without getting caught by the 4 enemies (Did you know their names were Blinky, Inky, Pinky and Clyde?) to advance to the next level. It doesn’t get simpler than that.


A huge number of people were addicted to Pac-Man (it was estimated that it had 30 million active players in 1982) and you could have just as easily earned a living by opening a tiny shop with a few Pac-Man machines thrown around.


As classic as Pac-Man was or is, there are a few reasons why people got addicted to it and it is not because it is the most fun game of all time; it had every characteristic of an addictive game.




Fast-forward to 2012 when yet another global phenomenon was born: Candy Crush.

Fast-forward to 2012 when yet another global phenomenon was born: Candy Crush.


There is virtually nothing that should make Candy Crush more addictive than any other match-three games (such as Bejeweled). Swipe two adjacent candies vertically or horizontally to create a set of 3 candies with the same color.


However as far as popularity goes, Candy Crush had 61 million likes on Facebook as of February 2014, made an appearance in PSY’s music video ‘Gentleman’, has been installed 500 million times across IOS, Facebook and Android devices – and earns a daily revenue of around USD600,000.


Why would anyone still be addicted to Candy Crush when the world is full of breathtaking fun console games? Because Candy Crush keeps you in the ‘ZONE’. From Pac-man and Tetris to Farmville and Candy Crush, the rules of ‘THE ZONE’ still apply.


Difficulty level


Have you ever been on a date where you are not really sure if it is going well or not so you kind of go with the flow until either is confirmed?


Well that pretty much sums up the level of difficulty an addictive game has. The level’s objectives are hard enough to be able to keep you engaged and get your attention, yet simple enough that you won’t view the game as demanding and time-consuming (until it is a bit too late, of course). Even though the levels in Candy Crush can gradually get frustrating and difficult, it never seems too demanding because the task is still pretty simple.




Imagine yourself having a freelance job that pays you 1 dollar every time you send an email with the right format, even if you don’t need the money, you would still send a couple per day… forever!


One of the characteristics of addictive games is the fact that they just don’t end. Even worse, they give you tiny rewards over short periods of time, enough to satisfy your addiction but not enough to make you quit. For a brief period of time, or not so brief, the game is your owner keeping your inner junkie strung along!


Even if you reach level 500, the ‘end’ of the game, you can count on the game-makers to always add an additional 30 levels to the game. And her…we… go!


Aggressive peer-to-peer expansion


Yet another classic sign of a mass addictive game is its popularity. In every social group there would always be the trend-finder and the trend-followers. Once the game is released and the trend finder gets hooked, there is no stopping the spread. Soon enough after the game infiltrates the group, it divides and conquers, spreading onto everyone’s smartphone or laptop, turning it into a competition of who will claim the term “addict”.


Just like a baby


There is something about Candy Crush that just makes you 12 years old again without even realising it. Encouraging words such as “Sweet!” and “Delicious!” being said in a magically soothing tone, leads to my subconscious teaming up with my inner child for a play date!


With signs of achievements and cute candies, Candy Crush takes positive reinforcement to a very indirect level. Regardless of gender, age or occupation, the Candy Crush addiction reached airborne levels where no one is safe or immune.


So far the only way to avoid the Candy Crush mania from negatively affecting any aspect of your life is to quit cold turkey, or know when to press pause. Playing games can be tons of fun. They can serve as distractions or even as tiny boosts to cognitive functions turning them into a positive activity instead of a negative influence.


Work it


According to research published in the open access journal BMC Research Notes by Dr. Richard Haier, half an hour daily of playing Tetris for 3 months can result in more efficient brain activity in processes like critical thinking, reasoning, processing and language.


Candy Crush is not much different from Tetris and has even a few more positive additions such as improvement of color coordination and recognition.


SO … Candy Crush, friend or foe? The answer of course depends on YOU.


The games’ addictive zone sure is tempting, but then again we are surrounded by temptations all the time. If Candy Crush or any similar game is your choice of casual fun yet it is causing a bit of a problem, moderation is key.


Nothing is more rewarding than taking a challenge of a game and finishing it to the very last level, however with games like Candy Crush you’d be surprised that even if finishing it to the end is possible, pride is not one of the feelings you’d experience… it’s the feeling of wanting to relive it all again!


How many of you have completed the game and started all over again?


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