If you’ve found yourself crushing candy in your dreams or felt the urge to fling a Poké Ball at a whining air conditioner, you may have fallen victim to Tetris Syndrome. After a marathon session battling it out in front of a screen, your mind begins to project a game’s strategy onto the real world, warping the way you interact with objects and people. The phenomenon was first described in a 1994 Wired article, in which the author noticed some strange side effects to his non-stop Tetris playing: “At night, geometric shapes fell in the darkness as I lay on loaned tatami floor space… During rare jaunts from the house, I visually fit cars and trees and people together.”
Old-school gamers also describe the effect: Sodoku players start to see streets as vertical or horizontal numerical puzzles, and speedcubers mentally twist their surroundings like a Rubik’s Cube. Scientists hypothesize that the way we play is linked to our procedural memory, and the sensation felt after a game bender taps into our innate desire to organize and create. And while it may just be a harmless hallucination, if you start seeing the world scroll after hours of shredding on Guitar Hero, your mind might be telling you it’s time to take a break.
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