The Tetris Effect

My friend Todd is a photographer in Brisbane. He has a photoblog. It’s cool. It features mostly weddings but his regular “Fridays on Foot” posts are crackers.

Here’s one that has had a little bit of clever post production done.

The coolest thing about his post was the link to the Tetris Effect on Wikipedia.

People who play Tetris for a prolonged amount of time may then find themselves thinking about ways different shapes in the real world can fit together, such as the boxes on a supermarket shelf or the buildings on a street.[1] In this sense, the Tetris effect is a form of habit. They might also see images of falling Tetris shapes at the edges of their visual fields or when they close their eyes. In this sense, the Tetris effect is a form of hallucination. They might also dream about falling Tetris shapes when drifting off to sleep. In this sense, the Tetris effect is a form of hypnagogic imagery.

Izaac and I have discussed our Tetris effect problem. I had no idea it was widespread enough to earn its own article.

Stickgold et al. (2000) have proposed that Tetris imagery is a separate form of memory, likely related to procedural memory. This is from their research in which they showed that people with anterograde amnesia, unable to form new declarative memories, reported dreaming of falling shapes after playing Tetris during the day, despite not being able to remember playing the game at all.[2] A recent Oxford study (2009) suggests Tetris-like video games may help prevent the development of traumatic memories. If the video game treatment is played soon after the traumatic event, the preoccupation with Tetris shapes is enough to prevent the mental recitation of traumatic images, thereby decreasing the accuracy, intensity, and frequency of traumatic reminders. “We suggest it specifically interferes with the way sensory memories are laid down in the period after trauma and thus reduces the number of flashbacks that are experienced afterwards.”, summarizes Dr. Emily Holmes, who led the study.

I had read about (and posted) that study about Tetris and trauma. But this has opened up a whole new world of normalness to me.

Do you suffer from the Tetris Effect?

I also used to suffer from the GoldenEye effect – I’d be popping bad guys in my dreams after extended sessions on the Nintendo64.


Luke Bird says:

I've suffered from it too! Had dreams where I had to get the blocks to all fit together and it would stress me out. I knew then it was time to stop playing. Sad, its such a great game. One of the few I like.

Aaran says:

This could be used to prevent post traumatic stress disorder in the defence force or emergency services. After a hard day they could wind down to a game of tetris. "Good fighting boys, now complete level 5 before you can knock off"

Izaac says:

"In the end, my options were to give up sleeping and prayer, or tetris. I went with the latter."

[…] we’re on the subject of talented people I know – Todd the photographer used to be in a band with Phil the guitar player from Brisbane’s preeminent comedy band […]