You’re looking at the tiles in your bathroom, a building under construction, a brick wall, a patterned rug, or even a sweater. You can’t just glance away and ignore the pattern like you usually do. You find yourself picking out pieces and fitting them together in your mind. You might even see blocks falling when you close your eyes. It’s called the “Tetris Effect,” and it happens to people that play the game for an extended period of time. That doesn’t mean it only happens with ‘Tetris,’ though. I’ve gotten wrapped up in plenty of games in the past to the point of similar hallucinatory episodes, and I’m sure that I’m not the only one.
This was much more prevalent before I got out of school and started working for a living, and I’d assume it’s the same for most folks. When you’ve got a real job, you can’t just blow ten hours of your day on a game. In high school, that’s not only something that can be done, it’s something to aspire to. That’s right, kids out there in Bonus View land, stay glued to that Xbox.
The first time I noticed this outside of ‘Tetris’ was during an old space sim called ‘Wing Commander.’ It’s still one of my favorites to this day. Back when I was in the 5th or 6th grade, I played it like crazy. I played it so much, in fact, that when I closed my eyes at night, all I saw was the scrolling stars of deep space and the approaching Kilrathi horde.
That was just a warm up for the big one, though – the game that would absolutely consume me. No, it’s not ‘World of Warcraft’ or even ‘Everquest,’ but a lesser known game called ‘Daggerfall.’ It’s the second in the ‘Elder Scrolls’ series that spawned ‘Morrowind’ and ‘Oblivion.’ Despite some rather serious flaws, it was the perfect game for a 14-year-old Dick Ward.
I played ‘Daggerfall’ with the same appetite as the people who get absorbed into MMOs. I ate at the computer, played until I was too tired to stay awake, and even read about the game when I wasn’t able to play. I took a massive guide to school every day, just in case I had time to study up.
My character was impressive to say the least. His speed and strength were as high as possible, and his climbing and jumping skills were maxed. Traveling through a town was as simple as moving forward. Dreven, as he was called, would automatically scale the buildings in no time flat, and I could jump from roof to roof with more skill and style than Altair could dream of.
On one particularly grueling night involving a dungeon, a few Daedra and a really frustrating crash that made me lose an hour of play, I ended up with just two hours of sleep. I woke up, or was woken up, ate breakfast and slogged my way through school.
I began the walk home in a sort of a trance. For whatever reason, my brain decided that I was still playing ‘Daggerfall.’ I walked away from the school, up a hill and straight into the wall of the library. Face. Brick. Smack.
So, have you felt the wrath of the Tetris Effect? Got a story worth sharing? Hit up the comments below!