Last week I got a Facebook message from my dad inviting me to play a game called Pet Rescue Sega. I took the bait. What could be harmful about a request from dad to play a game involving adorable little digital pets?
For those of you addicted to playing Candy Crush Sega, a game by King, the same app developers as of Pet Rescue Sega you know where this is going.
It was a raining Saturday afternoon dedicated to rest. I downloaded the game and began to play. I cleared the first three rounds earning two stars. On round four, the concept of rescuing the adorable little pets enters the game. This apparently was strong motivation for me because I cleared that round with a three star score. All I needed was that one win in my system to quest out more wins. I played on. Some rounds were easy and that encouraged me to go to the next round. Some rounds were hard which brought out my competitive side where I refused to put the game down until I cleared the round. As I learned how "lives" were calculated, I watched the clock until I had another chance at clearing a round. I purchased two "lives" before understanding the concept of asking a friend for a life and probably would have played all day if I did not reach the part after level 27 where you have to ask three friends to unlock a level for you or pay to do so.
I am currently at the enlightened level of 48. I say enlightened level of 48 because like any good 12-step program, I learned some things along the way. Firstly, I had to admit to my addiction. I had a serious talk with my dad, the pusher. My sister, brother and I have formed a support group where we talk about our candy and pet crack addictions, well not really but we do make jokes as we text each other with urgent requests for lives. And so the irony begins. Asking someone "for a live" instead of sharing live with them is just sad. Sure there is humor and entertainment in the mix but if the quest to get to the top of white seal mountain is more important than spending time with friends and family there is problem. Right now I have told myself I will delete the game after I get there, so needless to say I have not quite comes to terms with my own addiction.
It is no accident that the developers of games like Pet Rescue create a pattern of easy levels then a couple of hard ones then easy levels again. This is the scientific formula for human momentum. Set a goal and then organize and leverage smaller actions along the path that are aligned to that goal. Celebrate each milestone easy and hard making sure to space out the hard ones to avoid discouragement. Discouragement murders momentum and blinds us from seeing and celebrating progress.
In my enlightened level of 48 I realize it is not the game I am addicted to as much as I am addicted to momentum. There is nothing more gratifying than connecting the dots along a challenging path when those challenges are aligned to a greater purpose. My life is full of relational and purposeful momentum which I hope to remember when I am wearing my pajamas all day in pursuit of making my way to end of the Pet Rescue Sega.