ELI5: What is it about human psychology that causes us to find games like Candy Crush, Tetris, etc so satisfying?

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They are specifically crafted to be as addictive as possible. They figure out how to trigger dopamine release, and then train you to be on a cycle. That is why Candy Crush has limited tries per day. So you don’t OD on the dopamine cycle and it loses its appeal.


It’s called variable ratio reinforcement. Most people are familiar with continuous reinforcement through mentioning Paslov’s dog. In variable ratio the reinforcement is more random, but it isn’t actually random. For example when you first sit down at a slot machine you are very likely to be rewarded in the first few pulls, which teaches you reward. This learning schedule is the most effective for creating addiction like behavior because this ‘randomness’ leads our brains to release a larger dose of dopamine when you win. I would say candy crush would fall into this, but Tetris doesn’t really fit next to it. Tetris relies on an intrinsic motivation of skill acquisition for spatial reasoning, but I have tried the Tetris online for Switch (I think it’s called tetris99) and it’s much more random and closer to candy crush.


I wouldn’t put Teris and its derivatives into the same category with Candy Crush, though. Tetris has a very good combination of dynamic, tactic and strategic components in a very simple yet very structured game universe. IMO that is what makes it addictive and such a long time survivor. Candy Crush and the likes – just a truckload of dopamine.


Other than what others have said about the reward dopamine rush, I would almost swear that the sounds in Candy Crush are nothing short of ASMR too. The way everything sounds as the candies pop, then fall into place, or match to makes bonus… Gawd it’s just amazing.


With Tetris specifically, we (our minds) like the fact that the objects within the game are just 4 squares joined together by 1 or more of its edges (there is a specific name for this but I forgot it) because of how simplistic it is. I’m 15 (so please ignore sloppy terminology) and read something that follows along the lines of that above a couple of weeks ago and thought it would fit here!