Songs for the Struggling Artist

Candy Crush and Life in The Arts
May 6, 2014, 12:50 am
Filed under: art, business, dreams, theatre | Tags: , , ,

On the You Are Not So Smart Podcast, host David McRaney interviewed Jamie Madigan about the psychology of video games. There was much discussion about Candy Crush Saga, which I, at the time of listening, had no experience with, aside from seeing people play it on the subway.

Apparently, one of the qualities that the game capitalizes on is our almost compulsive need to complete a task or a quest or a goal. Madigan pointed out that this is one of the reasons games can be so addictive. We cannot let that thing we started go unfinished. We strain against an unsolved puzzle and will keep returning to something unfulfilled until we are satisfied that it is complete. This is the reason that we can allow a game to encroach on other things that are much more important to us in the big picture. We will forgo sleep, food and bathroom trips just to complete the goal.

Despite all the warnings of the addictive qualities of Candy Crush Saga, I went ahead and started playing it. I have, like, many others, lost time I didn’t really have to its oddly simple charms. I am currently stuck at level 254 with no real hope of getting past it. This is the sort of point wherein many people will pay a dollar to get a booster which will help them to get past the seemingly impossible level. I don’t happen to have a lot of spare dollars but even if I did, I’m not sure I would use one to proceed. I will, instead, keep trying, for days and weeks on end. My years in the Arts have given me an odd sort of perseverance. I have developed a peculiar ability to just keep going even without any real hope.

The other thing is that thing about the goal, the quest – the way at the end of each game it tells you “You did not reach the goal.” These words are not an accident. The game architects understand the psychological effect of seeing “You did not reach the goal” over and over. It will keep you playing.

And that’s partly why Candy Crush is like my life.
I feel like part of the reason I’m still fighting through The Chocolate Mountains of the Arts is that I have not yet reached the goal. I make bits of progress, I get past a tricky level and then find myself stuck somewhere that seemingly only money will get me out of. I can’t give up. And I sacrifice all kinds of things because some part of my brain can never be satisfied until we have solved that puzzle, until we reach that goal.



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