How an Android game trained my gratitude muscle

For a serious spell in 2014, I was hooked by this game:

Smash Hit by Mediocre Games

Smash Hit, a game that could be considered downright therapeutic if you feel the need to break things.

Fun as it may be, I never imagined it would, in a sense, program me to be more thankful in real life.

Basically the object of the game is to coast a series of rooms, tapping the screen to lob metal spheres at glass barriers. Hit a barrier without breaking it, lose ten balls. Run out of spheres, game over.

Along the way, there are these pyramid thingys:

Thingys. Technical term.

Hit them, gain three balls. Hitting the pyramids is a major priority. Building a hefty arsenal of balls will keep you going for as long possible during the final stage (which, well, never ends until you’re out of balls).

Each level of Smash Hit is comprised of a sequence of rooms. The rooms themselves are pre-programmed, each with its own specific pattern of barriers and pyramids. The sequence of the rooms, however, is randomly generated. Different each time.

Once in a while, you’ll get the short end of the stick, and get stuck with a room sequence with hardly any pyramids. Other times, pyramids galore.

Bizarrest thing, but I think I figured out how to influence the way the patterns are generated.

With my mind. I’m totally not shitting you.

I started noticing that in the instances of getting the most pyramids, I was playing ultra-consciously. Not like a zombie. My emotions were involved. I’d feel happy when I’d get a lot of pyramids, then there’d be even more. I felt appreciation for my “good luck.”

Because I am a dork of grandiose proportions, sometimes I’d even say, “thank you,” in my mind when I’d pass through a chamber of optimal profit. Much to my glee, that particular chamber would repeat itself several times over.

Each time it did, my inner thank yous would get more excited, more wild.

Oooooooooh yeaaaaaah, thank you!

Because it was all so amusing, I kept experimenting.

I’d go through like a fuddy duddy and resist gratitude with all my might. And my game was like a barren wasteland.

I could probably turn this into an actual research study. Maybe I’d even prove myself wrong. Perhaps it’s all just coincidence.

Nah.

But even if it were, today I said “thank you” in my mind, as I engaged in conversation with someone who means a lot to me. Walking home from the bus stop, my mind said “thank you” to the overheard clouds, which looked like a celestial sandbar. “Thank you,” to a mechanic working on someone’s car. Glad there are people like him around.

And with each “thank you” my heart got just a little softer and more receptive to the world around me. Which makes my life better. Which makes other people’s lives better. And so on, until lots of lives are better.

All because I geeked out entirely too much on a videogame.

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