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Medicine Puzzle Games (Games) Entertainment Games

Playing Tetris Is Good For You 132

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the wow-still-causes-cancer dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Some UK researchers found out that playing Tetris is actually good for people with post-traumatic stress disorder, by interfering with memory. I wonder if playing Minesweeper is effective against boss-inflicted stress."
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Playing Tetris Is Good For You

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  • Great! (Score:2, Funny)

    by Shadow7789 (1000101)
    I knew those 14232 hours spent playing Tetris were good for something.
  • by antifoidulus (807088) on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @09:36AM (#26357305) Homepage Journal
    was brought on by being hit repeatedly by blocks of various geometric shapes each divided into 4 equal sections?
  • it is an Australian site - it's been "Conroyed"

  • So, what does playing tetris do when you're trying to store normal memories, like where you put your glasses?

  • I didn't catch it in TFA, does someone know about the time scale?

    It makes sense that Tetris competes with brain resources WHILE you are playing...it would be hard to have a flashback during a game. But did it have any long-term impact?

    As in, therapeutic value? I know COD4 helps me by competing for my brain resources against homework. Without it, I'd be like Col. Kurtz from Apocalypse Now...."the horror, the horror".

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by XPeter (1429763)

      I know COD4 helps me by competing for my brain resources against homework. Without it, I'd be like Col. Kurtz from Apocalypse Now...."the horror, the horror".

      I couldn't agree more.

      Games for a long time have been known to have positive effects towards the user, instead of just negative. The things games do well as it says in TFA, they remove stress. I find it very helpful to come home after a long day and cool down with some PC gaming. It helps me unwind my brain.

    • by JayAitch (1277640)

      Playing COD4 gives me PTSD. Especially when I'm playing on the projector sitting next to the speakers.

      • by noundi (1044080)
        Have you tried playing Tetris at the same time? From what I've heard it helps!
        • No, but I've tried playing Tetris (the version that came with Windows) while running PowerPoint presentations. That makes level 10 pretty difficult...

    • I would think it is a case that PTSD normally fades over time. Paying Tetris during the early stages when it is strongest probably helps. Then after time as it fades and becomes more manageable then you don't have to play Tetris as much. And perhaps except for getting flashbacks of War you get one where those blocks are moving to fast for you. Which is less devastating, but you still have a similar rush.

    • by Qzukk (229616)

      did it have any long-term impact?

      Some people see the blocks falling after they've stopped playing. Thinking about it in relation to PTSD, I wonder if this isn't a minor form of stress disorder as well. Perhaps "post-tetris stress disorder" crowds out the effects of PTSD.

  • No... (Score:5, Funny)

    by MikeRT (947531) on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @09:44AM (#26357415) Homepage

    I wonder if playing Minesweeper is effective against boss-inflicted stress.

    No, but Mine-layer is...

  • by Cthefuture (665326) on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @09:47AM (#26357453)

    Really, all they did was show people something disturbing then immediately distract them with Tetris afterwards. I'm positive they could have districted them with anything and it would make a difference.

    It is common knowledge that the best way to remember something is to put it in your brain then recall it over increasingly long periods of time. If you don't recall it (what they call "flashback" in the article) then the memory will naturally fade. It is at the beginning of a memory when it is weakest so it makes sense that if you distract someone and prevent them from recalling the memory then it will quickly fade.

    • I Agree: Guitar Hero (Score:5, Interesting)

      by AMSmith42 (60300) on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @10:06AM (#26357691)

      Talk about replacing memories. Now whenever I hear a song, I'm not thinking about where I was when I first heard it. I'm thinking about hitting those damn color buttons on time.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by omglolbah (731566)

        Could be worse...

        You could be seeing arrows on the bloody walls...

        (At least j-pop is still fairly rare in public places in norway :-p)

    • by martas (1439879)
      Well, there's no reason why, for example, soldiers couldn't carry portable tetrises (tetri?) with them, and play for 1 hour as soon as they are relieved of duty.
    • by MrZaius (321037)

      If nothing else, it suggests a benign, free, easily found device that can be used to distract oneself after digging up those memories. May not be particularly profound, but it was worth writing up - Not everything is particle physics. Science that is easily understood by the public at large carries an inherent value well worth pursuing.

      You just shouldn't take it to extremes. [washingtonpost.com] Sure knows how to pick 'em, eh?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by clone53421 (1310749)

      Really, all they did was show people something disturbing then immediately distract them with Tetris afterwards. I'm positive they could have districted them with anything and it would make a difference.

      Very true. The more someone thinks about what they just saw, the more firmly it's going to be set into their mind. It's not at all surprising that distracting them (and thus focusing their mental energy elsewhere) lessens the effect of the traumatic memories.

  • But MegaMan [capcom.com] is better.

  • by bigsexyjoe (581721) on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @09:49AM (#26357489)
    From what I've seen people do primarily play Tetris to decompress and reduce stress. No won says Tetris is super fun or exciting. It's just something to absorb your attention after a hard day. I don't know if the effect it has on traumatic stress is an extension of that, but I tend to think it is.
    • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @10:33AM (#26358039) Homepage Journal

      No won says Tetris is super fun or exciting.

      I do, when I win.

      Seriously though, I find tetris to be a whole lot of fun. And if you just start at level 9 every time, it can be pretty exciting, too. It doesn't quite have the clench factor of CMR3 or anything (slide slide slide CRASH - you can see how long it's been since I bought a new game though) but it can be quite engaging. Proof positive that graphics aren't everything - tetris works fine when drawn in text characters.

      • by jschen (1249578)
        How does one "win" at Tetris?
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by drinkypoo (153816)

          How does one "win" at Tetris?

          Some Tetris variants have a win condition. Notably, Game Boy tetris launches various rockets when you achieve certain scoring goals. It's not VERY exciting, but if you just think back to how exciting the Game Boy was when it had come out (especially at my age, it was pretty special for me being just at the perfect age to be awed by that little Z80-powered masterpiece - now I'm just duly impressed) then you can recapture a little of that excitement.

          I find that it's actually hard for me to truly enjoy the thr

          • by DeskLazer (699263)
            they were a grind? let's not forget about MMORPG's of today.

            at least those grinds [usually] had an end goal. how is any game not a grind? you do stuff repeatedly to either level up or get past a stage so you can continue to do it repeatedly. not to say you don't have a good point, because I agree with you in some aspects, but the idea of calling things a grind is kind of redundant, imo. to get good at something, you probably do have to do it over and over. if the conditions kept changing, it may be
        • Whoosh (assuming GP means the Tetris for Windows that shipped with MS OS's back in the day).

        • How does one "win" at Tetris?

          First you have to get so good you can almost play with your eyes shut. Then you have to beat this guy [youtube.com].

          • by Abcd1234 (188840)

            Meh, that version has a hold slot, much larger lookahead, and it appears to be fairly lax about letting you move and rotate pieces once they've landed (including rotations that would be physically impossible). Still impressive, certainly, but *much* easier than what I consider "classic" Tetris (TetrisDS has the similar properties, and hence it's also not particularly challenging, unfortunately... pity LockJaw is so klunky on the DS, as at least it let's you turn off all those "features" :).

      • I completely agree, Tetris can be both fun and exciting, and I find the fact that it is "unbeatable" relaxing in its own way. Because you know you are going to lose at some point it takes the pressure off.
    • by garcia (6573) on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @10:37AM (#26358077)

      From what I've seen people do primarily play Tetris to decompress and reduce stress.

      It doesn't reduce stress for me! Especially when some high ranked asshole comes into play me on Tetris Party for the Wii and quits after I beat him and before his ranking is affected. Fucking cocksuckers. If I ever find one of those motherfuckers I will pound them in the head with a Wiimote repeatedly until death occurs.

      Oh, is that what you meant by reducing stress? Sorry, I got distracted.

    • From what I've seen people do primarily play Tetris to decompress and reduce stress. No won says Tetris is super fun or exciting. It's just something to absorb your attention after a hard day. I don't know if the effect it has on traumatic stress is an extension of that, but I tend to think it is.

      So when my CS friends tell me the computer is some kind of stochastic state machine and that the CPU is never truly idle, it's really playing Tetris when I'm not using it?

  • by Roland Piquepaille (780675) on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @09:50AM (#26357503)

    I wonder if playing Minesweeper is effective against boss-inflicted stress.

    I don't know where the poster works, but in most workplaces, boss-inflicted stress is caused by playing Minesweeper on the job. But then I suppose getting a pink slip is one sure way of never being stressed out by the boss ever again...

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Eil (82413)

      I don't know where the poster works, but in most workplaces, boss-inflicted stress is caused by playing Minesweeper on the job.

      If you really and truly believe that, then you haven't worked for enough bosses.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by ImpShial (1045486)

      But then I suppose getting a pink slip is one sure way of never being stressed out by the boss ever again...

      I think that if I received a pink slip from my boss (both of us being men), I'd be fairly disturbed, compounding my normal level of job-related stress.

      Also, I would probably have a good case for a sexual harassment charge.

  • Once you get up past level 20 the game just starts creating traumatic stress.

    I know I still have flashbacks and nightmares about the time I passed the level 70 mark on TetrisDS. Why didn't I just use the 'T' block? Why?! Oh no...it's happening again
  • Any distraction (Score:3, Interesting)

    by steveo777 (183629) on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @09:54AM (#26357551) Homepage Journal

    can be very therapeutic. The trick is to be able to regulate just how distracted you become. It's not going to help some one if they have PTSD and then get hooked on Tetris to the point where you can't live without it. Yes, that is an extreme.

    My point is actually that Tetris is just the distraction and you can probably get similar results with any sort of simple mind stimulating puzzle like sudoku. Heck, I'm willing to bet any video game would help as long as, say, your PTSD was triggered by almost getting run down by six 18-wheelers and you sit down for a session of Big Mutha Truckers [wikipedia.org]. Course... if you don't have PTSD before playing that game you will after the fact...

    • I have to agree. As someone with PTSD (and not from going into battle; though going into battle in 8th grade, when I essentially got stuck with it, would have been interesting, I must admit...), any distraction can help. It can also make it worse by using it as a means of avoidance--and one of the sections for criteria for PTSD according to the DSM includes symptoms of avoidance that become significantly distressing.

      Personally, I do like to play the more mind challenging games, as they do distract me, and t

      • Can't say I'm the biggest fan of Tetris, but Minesweeper, Sudoku, and other ones that require more thought are always more nice for me. Except when you can do "Expert" minesweeper in 100 seconds and feel like you're just looking at the numbers and not actually thinking about them... then it kinda sucks... but that's all good.

        My best time on "Expert" is 59 seconds. I routinely hit 80.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Will accidental exposure to Tetris after treatment have similar effects to Beethoven's Ninth?

  • When I've played Tetris too much before going to bed, all I could think about, tossing and turning in the sheets, is blocks forever falling and falling, and trying to fit them all in, essentially playing the game in my head. I can easily see that business pushing out other thoughts.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Finally, a need for QuantumG's code [slashdot.org]!
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Gizzmonic (412910)

      QuantumG, you didn't have to post anonymous. We all know it was you, you self-promoting hack!

      Now...prepare to be destroyed!

      • Sadly, I have to admit that I have also written Tetris in Javascript. (And in BASIC – twice, and once in 80x86 assembly – which I managed to lose the source code for, blast it!)

        • by Gizzmonic (412910)

          Nothing to be ashamed of...it's been so long since I wrote a substantial program, I can barely scrape together "Hello World" these days...

  • When will it end? (Score:1, Redundant)

    by jezreel (261337)

    I wish all those doing-nerdy-stuff-is-good-for-your-brain-somehow stories would cease to be made up by "some researcher" or editors!

    not having RTFA but assuming it to be the usual bullshit

  • I wonder if playing Minesweeper is effective against boss-inflicted stress

    Dunno, I find that game to be a stress-inducing process in and of itself. I wouldn't be lining up to recommend it to PTSD patients either for obvious reasons (even though in Vista you can optionally swap them out for flowers [shellrevealed.com].

  • I did not have a stress disorder, but in 1995 I was home sick from work once when I felt lousy laying down and lousy sitting up. I chose to sit up and play Tetris (and maybe Chips Challenge which was also on the Microsoft Best of Entertainment pack) and after a while I felt better.

    Last year I was in an airport waiting for a delayed flight during a kidney stone attack. I bought Internet access at through Boingo for the day and it helped me get through the attack.

    Maybe just getting your mind off things would

  • ... it always seemed to aggravate my carpal tunnel syndrome which has the effect of inducing new stresses to offset those that it supposedly alleviated. Go figure.
  • As a control, the researchers should have given another test group access to an "Internet full of Porn" (IFOP).

    If you RTFA, the researchers showed "distressing pictures" to the subjects, and then they played Tetris. Afterward, they had little memory of the "distressing pictures".

    They should do this again, but instead of playing Tetris, let them surf the IFOP.

    Afterward, they will have NO memory of the "distressing pictures".

  • Either this is a misleading title or the anonymous poster assumes we all suffer from post traumatic stress syndrome.
  • Or maybe the other way around. I've noticed that when performing an activity that requires your unconscious/autonomic part of your brain to take over, memory recall will actively interfere with your ability to carry out that activity. We usually think of it as confidence or the ability to overcome distraction but I think it really comes down to clearing your mind of conscious thought/memories and allowing your other brain to take over.

    Think about what it felt like to learn to type. At first, you had to t

  • Frozen Bubble rules.
  • Tetris Payout (Score:3, Interesting)

    by heffrey (229704) on Wednesday January 07, 2009 @11:55AM (#26359173)

    Tetris was especially good to me back in the late 1980s when I was at university at Sheffield in the UK. There were a few Tetris Payout machines around the city that could hold up to £60 of cash.

    The premise of this version was that you scored more points for lines cleared higher up the screen and you had to get as many points as possible in a fixed time limit. The payout was based on how many points you got on a sliding scale. As I recall the maximum payout was £12.

    The engineers who built the machine programmed it to get easier each time you failed to win money in a game and it got harder each time you did win. They made a mistake though because a good enough Tetris player could beat the machine on its hardest setting.

    There were about 3 or 4 students in the town that could empty these machines. Amazingly at the Student Union bar they came around once a week and filled the machine with cash. Those of us that could empty the machine would race to get to the machine first in order to empty it!

    I kept records of what I made and it was over £1000 which is not a lot of money now but it bought a lot of beer for me when I was 19 years old and skint! And I still managed to find enough time to get a degree!

    Eventually these machines disappeared no doubt because the people in charge realised that the only people making money were the people playing them!

  • Cinderella could have told you that. In her traumatic state, she sorted the ashes and embers in the fireplace. It's a therapeutic practice; it's getting down to the details, sorting, sifting, engrossing oneself in very small things. Tetris is the same. The player sorts block, putting them into their perfect place, not leaving any holes. It's more than a distraction. Changing the subject, you ever consider the existential implications of Tetris? An endless stream of blocks requiring your total concentration
  • Between Minesweeper [youtube.com] and Tetris [youtube.com], I can see why Tetris helps with Post Traumatic Stress better than Minesweeper.

  • Somebody, obviously, plays a lot of tetris.
  • If you actually RTFA

    We are not saying that people with PTSD should play Tetris

    Now how did that get turned around to "Playing Tetris is good for you"?

    Only on /.

  • I think it's the same cure as the eye movement desensitization and reprocessing:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eye_Movement_Desensitization_and_Reprocessing [wikipedia.org]

    It's meant to resolve the development of trauma-related disorders as resulting from exposure to a traumatic or distressing event.

    Tetris seems to require constantly moving your eyes.
    Games requiring concentrating your vision on one point should not be as much efficient.

  • Weak correlation (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Suisho (1423259)
    I'm currently getting My Master's in Social Work...

    According to the DSM-IV PTSD isn't even diagnosable for 3 MONTHS after the event. Obviously, asking people after a week how many times they remembered a movie isn't really related to PTSD. Traumatic Memories are laid down differently, more sensory in nature- than a mere 'thought'. (No source on that, sorry. There are debates about changes in brain structure and things with PTSD)
    They loosely define flashbacks. In PTSD, flashbacks can include feeling inj
    • by Suisho (1423259)

      But, making the correlation straight to PTSD, is off base.

      OMG, I apologize for the myriad of commas in that sentence.

  • ...when your machine can play it for you?

    In today's modern lifestyle, it's hard to find the time to do everything. But now with SweeperBot [sweeperbot.org], there's no need to give up minesweeper!

    SweeperBot plays mineseeper for you! It's free, it's efficient, and it's open source! [cpan.org] Simply download and double-click, and then spend your time doing more productive things... like playing freecell.

  • by louzer (1006689)
    I used to play a lot tetris while recovering after I saw my bones in an accident. This might have helped...
  • by qreeves (1363277)

    Getting a little tired of the non-informative posts on Slashdot. I expected to actually learn something, not see someone's random musings on a subject.

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