I am addicted to Candy Crush. And Candy Crush Soda and now Candy Crush Jelly. Why do I spend hours playing this simple game of matching three candies and getting excited about striped candies and candy bombs? It is not a game of skill or strategy and it doesn’t require a lot of thought. It’s the randomness of it, the “variable interval schedule of reinforcement,” that according to B.F Skinner, is what keeps me hooked. You try and try to meet the goal for each level even though it seems impossible to beat. Time and time again, you miss. You use up your five lives then have to wait a few hours until your lives are replenished.
And then there’s a time when the candies all land in a magical place and you make your goal and advance to the next level. It’s enough to keep you going, this brief moment of triumph.
So you keep trying and use up your five lives again.
Candy Crush is just like living with brain injury. You coax, you maintain, you persevere, you have setbacks. And then there is the random payoff: a smile from your husband, a phrase of recognition, an uttered, “You are beautiful.”
A moment of triumph. You advance to the next level.