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The Tetris Effect

Arrow Image A quick overview on a psychological condition known as "The Tetris Effect."

The Tetris Effect

As I have let on in previous posts, I am very very very interested in psychology, and as I was browsing different psychology material I came across something intersting.

There is an actual psychological condition known as \"The Tetris Effect.\" It is a condition where prolonged repetition of advanced brainwork causes you to repeat the behavior in real life. This first showed up when the popular game Tetris was released. Tetris required you fit falling blocks of different shapes into each other as they fall to create a line, which then disappears. This requires a large amount of spacial thinking and forces the player to think ahead to what will happen next. People soon became mentally addicted (different from physical addiction) to the game, and kept playing for extended periods of time repetitively. But after such prolonged mental activity, people wouldn\'t stop at just the game. People would walk down the street and see a bunch of boxes and line them up in there head, and try to stack trees so they fit each other.

Similar cases that have nothing to do with Tetris have appeared ever since. After intense continuous play of Dance Dance Revolution, it has been reported that people see arrows flying downward when they close there eyes, and they move in only the four direction allowed in DDR. People have reported reaching for a non-existent button in their car to fire a missile at a person in front of them. Panic attacks have surfaced when FPS people notice that there isn\'t a crosshair in the middle of their vision and they are unarmed.

Video games aren\'t nessicarily the cause, people have reported that they frequently reach for Ctrl+Z when they do something wrong, or Ctrl+S when they do something right and want to save it. Ever since people were looking for happenings like this, they seemed to just pop up in everyday life. One person involuntarily moves to click the rewind button on an imaginary remote, another slinks along corners to avoid being shot at by an imaginary assassin, while yet another avoids video cameras at banks after a Splinter Cell binge.

While it isn\'t nessicarily a \'problem\' common among people as a whole, it has gripped many people whether they are aware of it or not.

Visual, kinesthetic, and mental repetition are not the only forms that this shows up. A similar ailment are subjects of dreams. Have you ever stopped coding after a 4 hour coding spree, then go to bed exhausted and dream of code? Even common harmless things such as having a song stuck in your head are caused by the same process. This process is most likely linked to \"Procedural Memory\" which is what you use when you react without thinking, as if you were trained to do what ever it was after the memory receives conformation on the stimuli, this is the root of muscle memory.

Further reading:
Replaying the game: Hypnagogic images in normals and amnesics By: Stickgold, R., Malia, A., Maguire, D., Roddenberry, D., & O\'Connor, M

And that pretty much sums it up,


Mr_Cheeseon July 07 2006 - 00:40:01
intersting read. very true too... as in the mental repatition... not the video game section.
regiton July 07 2006 - 01:36:30
Good artical, it was a nice read.
Frozen Flameon July 07 2006 - 02:30:55
I dodge cameras in banks too. not because of splinter cell tho..
Dark Dragonon July 07 2006 - 05:00:10
nice article, enlightened me to some of my own habitual actions such as typing stuff on an imaginary keyboard at school during classes, and sometimes moving my thumbs when i walk or move around...
thousandtooneon July 07 2006 - 05:17:31
Thanks for quoting your sources. Good summation.
netfishon July 07 2006 - 08:44:21
my life is kinda like Tetris... everything has to be in order: my closet, my room, my file structure (i panick when a file is in a folder it's not supposed to be in!), etc... I love the article!!!
godon July 07 2006 - 11:03:24
great article! the Ctrl+Z thing happens with me sometimes! Shock i just think of it for a split second but my body doesnt react to the thought Pfft
tancurromon July 07 2006 - 13:40:09
Don't over react, but dud you copy the way i put TC at the end of all my PM's ?? Nice aricle! So annoying when you can't crtl + z it!!!!!
-The_Flash-on July 07 2006 - 14:11:22
Haha I recently remolished my room to repaint soon as I put the new colour on, I wished it was only on photoshop. Or even if I could click the back button.... Schweeeet articlette dude
Neo_Chalchuson July 07 2006 - 16:52:05
Glad you guys liked it, I was wondering how it would go cause it was kinda an obscure topic, but I am very glad it went over well. No tancurrom, I was doing NC at the end of my posts for a while cause I don't wanna type Neo_chalchus all the time, also there are two ways I spell it and I don't wanna get the two mixed up.
darkwizzardon July 08 2006 - 20:18:42
Yeah nice article.Sometimes when I can't find something in real life it like passes through my mind that it would be good to use the Find function Smile .To bad we dont have one in real life. Wink
Neo_Chalchuson July 09 2006 - 00:50:02
The time is different for everyone...its your body, and mind (and your seritonin.) But I believe you really have to get into it...I mean like playing 8 hours a day for a few weeks, and actually be liking it, not just like "god, I hope this works, only 6 more hours to go."
occularsinisteron July 09 2006 - 01:46:38
i have definately tried to blow people up in traffic and then realized that I was not master chief and that i had traded my rocket launcher for a gear shifter Saddamn ty for the info O.S.
occularsinisteron July 09 2006 - 01:50:54
<add on> wish life had integrated find function like firefox that highlighted the thing u wanna find</add on>
black-atelieron July 09 2006 - 10:38:43
REALLY interesting read, and of course, very true to. And you're right, it's an obscure topic, but that's jsut a bigger reason to talk about it. Very nice article, I'm rating it as awesome! Grin
shabouwcawon July 11 2006 - 12:52:26
does it go away after time? i remember after one VERY lond CS binge i attacked someone coz i heard them behind me. and then after i had them on the ground i heard "counter-terrorists win" in my head... lol
Neo_Chalchuson July 11 2006 - 15:30:15
I would assume it goes is just temprary reflex memory.
knutraineron July 13 2006 - 00:15:43
I used to play guitar hero really hard core and when I would close my eyes I would see the frets rolling down that I would need to hit. I stopped playing the game for a few days and it went away. SAme happened to me when I was 12 and played the pokemon games. The music would get stuck in my head.
BluMooseon July 14 2006 - 15:10:38
Lol i found myself imaginin to press arrow keys when sitting in passenger seat of car, after I'd spent all day playing gta... felt really nerdy. great article ^_^
xizkon July 15 2006 - 08:30:40
wow, This is VERY true! Although it is not a big deal I sometimes want to change the volume on my speaker(located to my left) and I find myself trying to turn it with the mouse pointer! My girlfriend has pointed this out to me a few times...and I feel awkward. I get so mad when the pointer doesn't come of my screen...lmaoGrin
dontspitonmeon September 25 2006 - 02:27:38
i find myself wishing life was javascript so i could void it Pfft and it would be great if life had a search feature
adlezon September 27 2006 - 19:32:32
I goto sleep, I dream of php. I close my eyes, I see php.
goofyon October 05 2006 - 20:54:43
Nice read. Some time when writing something down on a paper and I mess up I want to do cntr+z. :angry:
ziggythebearon November 29 2006 - 20:49:45
nice read the tetris effecct i believe full heartedly, however when it comes to people trying to firemissles at cars or only moving a certain way, it seems jsut as though they're trying to get some money at of the big corperations
CrazyCaity123on January 06 2007 - 18:55:07
I play tetris AND DDR in my head while trying to sleep Frown also, your article reminds me of these:
ghostking17on January 27 2007 - 07:36:05
nice article, interesting stuff. i find myself trying to use stuff like right click copy Smile
K3174N 420on March 05 2009 - 21:24:56
People have reported reaching for a non-existent button in their car to fire a missile at a person in front of them. Panic attacks have surfaced when FPS people notice that there isn't a crosshair in the middle of their vision and they are unarmed.
ROFL! once, when i was playing gta lots, i had the urge to steal a parked porsche... I stopped myself ^^
sandsphinxon April 10 2009 - 16:56:07
Very interesting read, it's really scary to think that long hours on a game could damage you physically and mentally. Well, i wouldn't give up playing a game just in case i started to stack cats on the street, but it's really something worth telling my friends. i'll be sure to link this on my website and to my mates.
pt00on May 07 2009 - 21:54:33
After I play COD4 for several hours and go to the shop, I check windows for snipers.
stealth-on June 27 2009 - 10:34:45
I find myself thinking alot of how a particular sentence or word would be typed on a phone if I was texting. Good to know im not the only insane one out there.
Tak11on July 06 2009 - 05:28:24
i played fable for 24 stright hours, got asked to take out the trash and said to my mom "what kinds of stupid quest is that, i better get a shitload of expirence" <= perspective reality ftw XD
MjWasHereon December 14 2009 - 17:41:06
nice read ! Thanks for sharing Smile i DO experience some related things ....
ctrl_on May 12 2010 - 20:14:24
There is a ongoing study regarding Tetris used as a stress release, I'll see if I can find the article.
omega_tekon March 02 2015 - 12:36:43
That 'ctrl+Z' thing has happened to me .But not any more!
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