When Candy Crushes YOU

I have deleted Candy Crush Saga & Bubblewitch Saga 2 from the iPad, but not Pet Rescue Saga. Also I think the folks over at King Games believe that in English, the word “saga” is used like a period.

BUT WHY YOU BITCH I NEED YOU TO UNLOCK LEVELS & GIVE ME LIVES you scream in your head, or maybe into the void or at a rather confused cat. I deleted them because they were quite literally destroying my brain.

I shall, of course, explain. Young persons working on their Advanced Stats for Psychology or Experimental Psychology 2 projects may want to take particular note.

I realized about two weeks ago that Candy Crush & Bubblewitch were both having terrible effects on my mood. I advanced fairly quickly in both games, so it had nothing to do with pacing or losses. It was how my brain was working during each game, & where my mind kept turning.

It would help to know that I fight PTSD & depression daily, as well as fibromyalgia & celiac disease. I have to be super careful what I ingest, do with my body (hey now), & think in order to lead a productive if not particularly happy life. The days I squeeze happiness out are bonuses! I strive for those but I’ve learned to accept “ok”. Ok is better than “Please God, kill me now.”

That’s why my repetitive, intrusive thoughts during Candy Crush & Bubblewitch gave me pause.

During Candy Crush, no matter how I was doing, I would find myself ruminating on thoughtless things people had said or left undone. This is not my normal state of being. I tend to let stuff go pretty quickly (to my own detriment, some say), but while playing Candy Crush my mind would immediately go to some slight or inconsiderate behaviour I hadn’t given weight in ages. Or ever. It also seemed to heighten my social anxiety; whenever I’d match 4, I’d find myself afraid of what people would think of me at church, specifically, which is very odd as I feel wonderfully comfortable there.

Where Candy Crush stimulated anxiety & resentment, Bubblewitch seemed to have a big fat meaty finger pressing down squarely on my depression button. I would do a level or two & around the 3rd board, I’d start singing little suicidal chants to the music. At first I thought this was funny; later I realized it was a bit more serious. I turned off the music & the depression seemed to worsen. I found when I played Bubblewitch, I would feel hopeless & numb afterward no matter how well I did.

I’m not going to post my suicide lyrics to the 3 songs in Bubblewitch lest they get stuck in your head. I promise you they were hilarious, kind of like how Morrissey is darkly hilarious but you also want to keep him away from box cutters.

I tried to do some research on this, but there’s nothing about the games affecting, well, affect (aka mood, for you civilians).

Conversely, Pet Rescue makes me happy. Happy. HAPPY. Whether the music is on or not, playing makes me cheerful, even if I can’t rescue the pets in the little cage & they make that sad, dejected face. Every time I play, I am happier. I shrug off pain. I have weaker cravings for dumb foods. I sometimes even exercise between rounds.

Is King conducting some kind of experiment? Is my brain super weird? Do my neurons respond with chemical reactions to a series of pixels mathematically arranged to produce slot-machine-esque reward responses in normal brains?

Do any of you experience mood changes with these or any other games? I have zero cognitive or mood changes with Kingdoms of MiddleEarth or Simpsons Tapped Out.

Oh, I also deleted Words With Friends, but that was because it was actually giving me repetitive stress pain in two digits.

Wow, when I talk about this it makes me sound like I’m 97, with dementia. Which, you know, fine, would be a fair assessment. BUT INCORRECT.

Anyhow my lives on Pet Rescue have respawned, so…