As 20somethings, we occasionally have cravings for things that provide instant gratification. This can come in many forms – a few shots of jack, Shake Shack, sex, drugs, sleep, social media or even reading. But it turns out that playing a video game for a few minutes can actually stave off these cravings.
Video games feed our cravings for gratification, while fulfilling the quest for the next power up, badge of honor, or some elusive accomplishment. Rarely do we know when enough is enough, and even after we’ve conquered any particular game, our sense of accomplishment is almost immediately replaced with a sense of ‘what do I do now” emptiness.
There are a few classic games, outside of flappy bird, which inevitably end in defeat. One of these is the classic tile matching game, Tetris (play here). As many of us know, by the time you get to the higher levels of tetris, the warp speed at which the tiles appear make it near impossible to play. However, if you can make your game last just three minutes, there may be benefits to your physical and emotional health.
Psychologists in Australia conducted a study on 20somethings aged 18-27 to determine if playing a game, like Tetris, could positively affect cravings. They were basically told to play Tetris several times a day, while reporting their cravings outside of the game play. Less than half of these students were required to play Tetris for three minutes after reporting their cravings.
Playing Tetris decreased craving strength for drugs, food, and activities from 70 to 56 percent.
This is the first demonstration that cognitive interference can be used outside the lab to reduce cravings for substances and activities other than eating. Let’s say I magically decreased your student loan debt by 70-56 percent. Yup, it’s that effective! According to the study, playing a game like Tetris doesn’t leave room for the visualization of your cravings.
Luckily Tetris is available in most app stores as a free download, so if you feel like you’re one Patron shot away from a regrettable walk of shame, or you’re about to dive head first into a Netflix binge, pull out the unbeatable game with the colored tiles. Chances are (70-56 percent of the time) that you won’t be able to focus on much else, and your fleeting urge will disappear!